About a year ago, I announced a goal for my fiction — revise seven stories I’d drafted over the years, and submit them to literary journals by the end of 2019. I didn’t reach that goal, but I did make more progress than I ever had with my fiction. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been so ambitious.
Now that my work schedule has finally moderated, I’m ready to bring my creative writing forward to the main burners. And since having a goal last year worked out pretty well, I’m giving it another shot in 2020.
Going with a couple refinements this year. The first is to create separate goals for each of the three primary stages in my development process:
- Drafting: the quickest and most spontaneous stage. Get an idea in my head, sketch a rough outline, then write the story that’s within me. Don’t bother over theme, genre, or execution; if a character name changes half-way through, don’t go back and update; if the dialogue doesn’t seem quite right, move on and correct it later. The purpose in this stage is to create something that’s complete, no matter how rough it is.
- Revising: the slowest and most deliberate stage. Take the lumpy ball of clay that’s the draft, and make it presentable. Use all the techniques learned from years of reading, classes, and writer’s workshops. If the theme or genre hasn’t come yet, it best show up now. Get the character names right, and iron out the wrinkled dialogue. When it’s revised, share it in a writer’s workshop, and see what responses it generates. The purpose of this stage is create something that’s polished.
- Submitting: Use the responses from the writer’s workshop to make final changes. Proofread and format the document. Proofread again. Identify target publications, pay the reading fees, and send the tale on its way. Read the rejections then immediately delete them, knowing that it only takes one yes to make all the no’s seem insignificant. The purpose of this stage is to get something published.
The second refinement is creating goal levels, a minimum that should be reached no matter what else I get into this year, a mid-range that will require some dedication, and a stretch that would be difficult but not impossible to achieve.
Now that the exposition is out of the way, here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2020. I coulda sworn you used to be able to create tables in WordPress, but I don’t see tools for it now and I’m too lazy to figure it out. This is gonna look sloppy, but it’s the content that matters, right?
Drafting — 6 stories minimum, 9 mid-range, 12 stretch
Revising — 3 stories minimum, 6 mid-range, 9 stretch
Submitting — 3 stories minimum, 6 mid-range, 9 stretch
In a little more than nine months from now, while I’m enjoying another blissful period of bare feet, it’ll be interesting to look back on this post, and see how