I’m off work for a week. I try to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s whenever I have the vacation time left over because it’s typically dead in our industry and it’s a good time for management to not be in the office. My sales people don’t have customers to call, because they’re all on vacation, so if I’ve got the plan for next year in place (kinda) it’s a good time to take off and leave the mice to play for a few days.
With that, my head immediately turned future-wise once I finished with Christmas dinner yesterday. Money was tight all around my family this year, which made for a less consumer-centric holiday and more introspection, which was nice and a little more relaxed. I did pick up a nice new pair of slippers, though, with better soles than my old pair so I can spend more weekend time without wearing real shoes. I’m not a fan of real shoes.
So I started thinking about my goals for 2014. 2013 was a little bit of a slack year for me, as far as writing productivity goes. I say this and then start to measure my published output, and it sounds kinda dumb. I put out one novel, co-edited one anthology, published one Bubba collection, three Bubba self-published short stories, and had stories appear in two anthologies, one of them my own antho. I also had a third story accepted into another anthology, but it hasn’t come out yet. That’s not a bad output, really, but it’s not enough for my long-range career plans. Part of my financial success hinges on churning out a bunch of new short stories and getting them out into the world as ebooks to continue to discover new fans. I have a pretty good backlist of short stories now, so each new reader I hook feeds into that backlist.
So here are the goals for 2014. I don’t do resolutions, because once you break those you can quit on them with impunity. I’m going for goals, which I can work towards all year without considering myself a failure.
1) Write more. Specifically to average 1,000 words each day, excepting weekends. That totals up to roughly 365-(52×2) = 261,000 words over the course of a year. I’m going to let myself have a few holidays off and say that my word count goal for 2014 is 250,000 words. That’s a pretty good three novels, or it’s a bunch of 10,000 word shorts and a couple of novels. I don’t count blog posts in my word count, or interviews, just fiction or if I decide to work on a non-fiction book. So the hope is to knock out a quarter million words.
That’s intimidating. The goal is 1,000 words every weekday. That feels much more reasonable. And I’m letting myself count this week’s productivity toward next year’s goals, so it should be easily reachable. It’s just going to take some of that 2010-2011 discipline that I used to have.
2) Finish Exodus. I published Genesis a couple years ago, and it wasn’t ready. I republished a year and change ago, and it’s pretty good. The premise is good, but I’ve moved to a different place in my writing style, and that book is hard to follow up right now. But I have the first third of the sequel on a hard drive, so I need to quit whining about it and write the damn book. Because there is the occasional fan that comes up and doesn’t ask about The Black Knight Chronicles, but asks about the sequel to Genesis, and they deserve the promised sequel. So this year they get it.
3) Polish the dragon book and shop it around. I finished the rough draft of the YA book with dragons. Now I need to polish it up, give it a heavy rewrite, because first drafts are crap, and then send it along to have folks take a look at it and determine its path to market. I think with enough polish it could go somewhere, but it’s another case of being done with the characters after one book, and New York loves a series, so it might be self-pubbed or small press. But we’ll see. First I have to polish it and get some opinions.
4) Publish at least six Bubba short stories, preferably eight. Bubba is a cash cow, and he’s a lot of fun to write. I have a whole story arc ready to go for the boy, I just need to crack the whip on myself to write it. If I can do six, I get rights back this year to a couple of shorts I put in anthologies featuring Beauregard, Bubba’s Great-Grandpappy the original Bubba the Monster Hunter and I can fill out collections with those. If I can get to eight, I can do two contemporary Bubba collections and one Beauregard collection, which I think I would prefer. Consistency is the key with the Bubba stories. I have to churn them out frequently. For a long time, Bubba sales paid at least my truck payment if not my mortgage every month (I have an expensive truck and a cheap house, so those numbers are closer than you’d expect), but without having new product recently, Bubba has dropped down to paying the light bill (still a good thing to pay each month and I’m not sad that I’m paying some bills through my words, but the goal is to pay all of them). So I need to get off my ass.
5) Play less Magic the Gathering but play it with more focus. I would like to get better at that silly card game, but to do that I need to play more real tournaments and less Commander. Probably less Limited, too. My Limited game is pretty darn good. My Constructed game is less than brilliant. If you’ve never played, I suggest you attend JordanCon in Atlanta in April, where you can learn from myself and Brandon Sanderson. Yes, most of that goal is written in code unless you’re a Magic geek. Sorry.
6) Get a new contract for books 7-9 of The Black Knight Chronicles. I’m turning in Book 5 early this year. Not early as in before the deadline, early as in the deadline is February so we can try to make ConCarolinas because George R. R. Friggin’ Martin is going to be there and I expect attendance to be stupid high so I’d like to have as much product on my table as possible. Once that’s done I’ll only have one book left under contract. I know where 7-9 is going to go, and like a d-lineman going into a contract year, I’d like to get the paperwork dealt with so I have all that taken care of before I start cooking on Book 6.
7) Join HWA. I recently realized I’m now eligible for membership in the Horror Writers of America, so I think I’ll join. It’s less than a hundred bucks, and then I get to nominate my stuff for Bram Stoker Awards. And since The Big Bad 2 is going to have stories from some AMAZING writers in it, it might be worth having some folks take a look at. I’m still not SFWA-eligible, so maybe someday they’ll remove their heads from wherever they are lodged and figure out how to address successful small press and self-pubbed authors. If not, I’m good with ITW and HWA.
8) Blog more on my own site. I’m only here once a week, and that’s been kind of a weak-sauce internet presence, so I’m going to try to blog more on johnhartness.com in addition to my time here at MW. That’ll be less writing-focused, might have a lot more Magic the Gathering, and will certainly be more profane, but usually entertaining.
So what are your goals? Have you even started thinking about them? I know you have!