2019 is proving to be an interesting year, if the first four weeks are any indication. I did a lot that was new to me, and learned more than a few things about my writing, and balancing the demands of my life and my full-time work. I made a lot of amazing connections; tracked my habits; and set out some tentative goals for the rest of the year. Let’s recap:
Instagram Writer’s Community
I decided to make an “author persona” Instagram profile in October 2018. The idea kind of grew out of the fact that my Instagram was mostly just pictures of my dogs…not an unusual conceit but I thought I might be able to connect to the online community of authors through Instagram, and mutually following 2-dozen “corgi love” IG accounts wasn’t really my thing.
What I found on authors Instagram and “bookstagram” was a really supportive community. What I enjoyed most were the DMs and writing advice; joining off-IG writing communities and chats; commiseration over editing and enthusiasm for people’s successes. There’s a whole aspect to growing a social media platform that I knew nothing about when I started (analytics, insights, impressions, reach–and the dreaded promos); I found I spent a lot of my time checking and orchestrating my posts and interacting with other people’s posts. It ate into my time in a way that I didn’t expect, and I gave myself the month to observe the time I spent on it and what I was getting out of it.
I think for me, my writing is more of a priority at this point and while I plan to continue interacting on Instagram, I’m going to limit any more energy that I find isn’t conducive to my writing productivity.
Writing Short Stories
I did a lot more writing this month than I expected. For some reason when I set up my goals for January, 4 weeks seemed endless. I figured I’d have plenty of time to get 4 stories written, but between Instagram, volunteer editing, reviewing my manuscript and writing content on the side, it was a bit of a struggle.
Going forward I think I have to absolve myself of the guilt I felt over writing short stories while I “could have been” working on my manuscript. Those two things seem counterproductive, when you look at them from the outside, but what I found was:
- short stories area brilliant way for me to loosen up my
- “writing muscles”
- they give me a small (but needed) sense of accomplishment when I’m not making as much headway as I would like on my main project
- they’re fun to write
- they’re a low-level commitment to ask people to read
Final takeaway: steady on, Ray. I’ll see if I can make it to 52 this year yet.
Reading a bit less
Last year I read 120 books while working full time and trying to write. Why, you may ask? Well a good writer needs to read, dahling. Still, it was insanity toward the end of the year and I made it a point to scale back a bit this year.
Seventy-five books seems a lot more manageable, especially since I’m already a book ahead. Ah, the sweet taste of downtime between books.
I set out to get 100 rejections this year and I’m not sure I’m going about it the right way.
I see the value of it, especially when it comes to querying agents. Unfortunately my manuscript is not at the point where I feel like I have something to shop around. What I’ve been doing instead is submitting to short story contests. It’s not all bad; I’m sending my stuff out to be read, at least. I’m not hearing anything back which isn’t exactly helpful, but I understand the volume of submissions can make that impossible. The only thing is that the costs of submitting to these contests can be really prohibitive after a while, especially when I have other expenses…you know, like a mortgage, for example. I’ve been trying to convince myself that every entry fee I pay to get rejected is a philanthropic donation to the Arts, but the pseudo-altruism is wearing a bit thin. There must be a better way!
Edits Vs. Rewrites
I dove back into one of my Nanowrimo manuscripts in an attempt to see if I could get it into querying state by the mid-point of this year. Unfortunately, it’s pretty rough. I’m looking at a serious rewrite with almost no salvageable parts.
If I didn’t like the core story so much, I’d be tempted to abandon it. But the characters and the themes are there, and there’s a lot of material to work with…it just needs to be recast and molded into something better than the current sum of its parts. Looking like a lot of work to be done!