On Bad Moods and Writing Goals

When it comes to some things, I’m predictable. I have found, over the years, that I tend to be a seasonal creature. Right after Thanksgiving (which was brilliant, by the way) I dropped into a terrifyingly bad mood that became the smoke-colored goggles for everything else I was doing.

Me, being a rational and somewhat sane person, immediately realized I was in an awful mood, which made it worse. Because then I got pissed at myself for being in a bad mood, because how dare I? The underlying reason for said emotion wasn’t caused by anything negative going on in my own life. Guilt? Getting pissed off at other people’s injustices and the entirely crappy attitude toward people we don’t agree with? Anyway, it quickly went downhill from there. Especially when I got paranoid about affecting other people by a lingering black cloud.

What is important here? No, not the bad mood, of which I’m happily recovering from. It’s the reason why.

You see, every year I look back on what I’ve done and I chastise myself for not hitting my big picture goals. Every. Damn. Year. This year, I was upset because I didn’t hit my novel submission goals and, to put it bluntly, I dealt with a lot of b.s. due to freelancing and the fact that many people consider writing to be a competition. Quite frankly, there are a few people I’d like to say “Piss off!” to, but instead I’ll smile and nod, play nice, and keep writing.

When the primary source of your income is through your words, you make decisions based on what pays, what doesn’t, and how easy the assignment or task is. Spec work falls to the bottom of the pile in favor of what will keep food on your table and pay your bills. And so does the b.s. because really? Who’s got time for that?

To achieve my goals, I’ve made choices to support them. I don’t watch TV or follow lifestyles of the rich and famous. I have no idea what the trends are, unless I need to research them for work. I’m backstage creating rather than consuming. My new-ish day jobs allow me to cheer John Kovalic and Steve Jackson Games on the front end, but when it comes to writing? I’m the wizard behind the curtain. Or rather, I’m supposed to be when I’m creating. Now it seems, I’m expected to put on my top hat and present my own version of Oz while I’m at the controls and after the show, too.

Combine all of those concerns with the time necessary to write, revise, and polish a novel, and this is why I did not get my novels done this year. I did, however, manage to eke out a living, figure out a great day job combination that allows me to write and feel really damn good about everything I’m doing, too. I did write, revise, and polish a ~35K novella that will debut next year — and that’s not even a fraction of what I accomplished.

But I still got pissed at myself for putting the spec work and empty promises to the bottom of the pile and punished myself for it, too.

The thing is, I feel there are only so many excuses a writer can make before it turns into this: “Since I’m talking more about writing rather than putting my butt in the chair to write, I really can’t call myself a writer.”

That statement takes on a different meaning when you earn a living off your words: technical or otherwise. Then, when you don’t write? You lose money. By not focusing on spec, I’m not losing any money right now, but I’m affecting my long term goals and invisible money. See-through, because I don’t know what I don’t know. I don’t know how much a novel will make because I haven’t published one. I can guesstimate averages, but still? No data, which equals fear.

Every author, I guess, deals with being afraid. In my case, it’s not fear so much as not doing. This year, I didn’t do what I set out to do because I made a conscious decision to spend my efforts on other projects. I got pissed about that, but I’m using it to put together my 2012 goals.

So now I’m eating many Christmas cookies, celebrating all the good things, and moving forward. After all, getting angry is counterproductive, especially if I don’t do anything about said emotion. I’m not the type of person who will sit and stew forever. Life is too short to be miserable.

For some words of encouragement, read author Sean Ferrell’s post about feeling small.

    Mood: Determined
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Two premium beverages with peppermint mocha.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I did finger push-ups. Does that count?
    Word Count Logged Yesterday (not including day job): None, took the day off.
    In My Ears: Pure, blissful silence
    Game Last Played: Picross 3D for the Nintendo DS
    Movie Last Viewed: Harry Potter on Blu-Ray
    Book Last Read: Dark Faith anthology
    Latest Artistic Project: Byzantium chainmail bracelet with pink/iris green/black rings
    Upcoming Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

Want an interview? If you’d like to interview me or request a guest blog post, please connect with me via the contact page, too. Due to time constraints and other communicative concerns, I typically don’t follow up on requests via social media.

Keen on sending fan mail? I am also happy to engage with readers and fans. Please note that I am unable to reply satisfactorily to certain types of queries related to the companies I work for due to the agreements I typically sign. If you have a question about a TV show or a line of books, the best way to get your answer is to contact the studio or publisher directly.

Back to Top