Guiding Lights


I’m pretty sure I’ve talked here before about having a game plan beyond “sell a book”. (If I haven’t, I should.) I was just chatting with a friend and fellow writer, Tamara Siler Jones, about some of the goals I’ve had as a writer. Things that I have *wanted* as a writer for nearly as long as I can remember: my guiding lights, as it were.

One of the things I’ve wanted to do since–oh, the late 80s, anyway: a good solid 20 years, at this point–is write for DAW Books. Why? Because I noticed when I was a teenager that DAW published a great deal of big fat fantasy and science fiction by women writers. I want to be a part of that legacy, and I want to write for them because it is my perception that they have given something of importance to me and to the industry, and I want to give something back to them. It’s a goal. It’s a really specifically shaped goal, and whether I’ll achieve it or not remains to be seen, but it’s something that’s defined what I want to do as a writer for more than half my life.

Another thing I’ve wanted is to work with editor Betsy Mitchell. I remember the first time I was actively *told* by another writer that she was a brilliant editor, and that was in 1998, years after I’d first heard of her through acknowledgments pages in books by authors I loved. As it happens, through incredibly fortuitous circumstances, I *am* working with Betsy, and have been for (mind-blowingly) most of my career. This is something that I would have considered a huge triumph if I’d managed it ten years from now: working with her from this early on is a gift beyond imagination.

*Lots* of writers have award-based goals. In our industry, that tends to mean the Nebulas and the Hugos, ranging out of field into some romance-based awards and the occasional, say, Edgar Award. I have one award that I want more than I want my eye teeth, and although a number of people know what it is, I actually want it so badly I don’t like telling people what it is. I’m afraid I’ll jinx it, or something. (Writers, as my mother says, are weird.)

I’m sure there are other things I’m not coming up with right now, but off the top of my head, those are some of my guiding lights, as a writer looking down the career path. What are some of yours?


6 comments to Guiding Lights

  • Catie, I started out pretty modestly (well, after the *get published* stage I went through for what seemed like forever.) I wanted that first hardback, that first international sale, that first bestseller, that first big book. And I got all that (bestseller in the UK, under one of my AKAs).

    But I learned that getting it all dosen’t mean keeping it. This is a difficult business and staying at the head of the pack is often not in our hands but in the hands of current events, world finances, war, etc. But I’ve been blessed beyond words and look forward to the next two decades of my carreer. And meeting my new goals.
    Kudos on a thoughful post.

  • Yeah, I want an award, too. (I was fortunate enough to receive the Crawford, but that’s a pretty minor one). I won’t name it either, but I have a feeling Catie and I are after the same prize. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I would love to have a bestseller someday, but I’m not holding my breath on that either. I’ve found, actually, that my goals are more modest now than they were when I started out. Maybe I’m more realistic now. Or maybe I’ve come to see what matters. My biggest goal now is simply to have a writing career for as long as I want one. If I’m ever to give up writing I want it to be my choice, and not the decision of some bean-counter in an office somewhere. This is a good life, and I have many, many more stories to tell. Let me tell them, let me see them in print, let me make a living off of them, and I’ll be happy.

  • I’ve never really thought much about awards, although I wouldn’t turn one down. Being recognized by the reading community in such a way would be beyond thrilling, but I seem to never quite see that as something I’ll qualify for. It’s a self-esteem thing.

    But the glittering star I was always reaching for, my greatest desire as a writer, was to be published by Tor. In all the years prior to writing my own book, I noticed that my favorite authors seemed to come from Tor, and I just knew that joining those ranks would be the ultimate success.

    And here I am! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Catie said, “I actually want it so badly I donโ€™t like telling people what it is. Iโ€™m afraid Iโ€™ll jinx it, or something. (Writers, as my mother says, are weird.)”

    Oh my goodness, this is SO me! Unless I know something is set in stone, I won’t talk about it for fear of ruining it. Maybe we’re weird, but at least we’re all being weird together.

  • One of these days I plan on cataloging my book collection in a database. I have a suspicion DAW may win out as most books published by once I tally them up.

    If I do become a published author someday, DAW is certainly one of my dream Publishers.

    At the moment, I’m shooting for 2011 as the year I’m ready to shop around my manuscript for an Agent and Editor/Publisher. If it’s ready sooner all the better, but from a personal assessment of where I believe I am, I think the next 24 months should see me with a publishable manuscript.

    From there it will be persistence and luck.

    I’ve got writing projects set for this whole year. They’re designed to add a flood of world building still needed and to continue to improve my writing and story crafting.

    My long term writing career goals are humble ones. While I’d love the whole bestseller and Hugo & Nebula award winner, auctioned off to Hollywood thing, I’d be quite happy selling my books to a core audience and staying published for quite a while. I have about 50 plus stories already in my head set in a specific second-universe creation of my own that range from Epic Fantasy to what I call Epic Science Fantasy. I’d like to write and publish those.

    Either way, I’ll write them.

  • Seeing how I am still a babe in the writing world, my Guiding Lights are fairly modest. I would like to be published in a traditional publishing house (doesn’t even HAVE to be a major one), to have at least one person buy my book and enjoy the story, and a million dollars (had to through that one in there).

    Heck, I live for someone telling me that they enjoy my short stories or segments from my WIP. I am pretty starved for affection and will lap up whatever comes my way. *hehe*

  • *stagewhispers, “David would like to thank the Academy…?” at David* ๐Ÿ™‚