From the “What readers want to know” files, someone asked me about how I set my goals and how far in advance I set them. I can’t, for the life of me, remember who asked me the question and when. The past few days have been a jaunt into the land of hallucinogens. Felled by sinus troubles and sparkly antelopes. Anyway, the question resurfaced from layers of muck and I thought it was such a good one that I wanted to address it here. So, if you did ask that question, I owe you a book. (Seriously.)
What I do for a living affects what I write in the sense that certain projects are written on spec and others are for companies or individuals. The “others” part of the equation can pay lots or a little; can be an open invite or a closed call.
However, having a steady stream of income dramatically affects my writing goals based on a) what I want to write and b) when it pays. Lesson learned: I do *not* base any budget on what I can earn on creative freelance projects.
It may not seem like I write intentionally, but trust me — I do. Very much so, in fact. The new story I wrote for the Don’t Read This Book anthology titled “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” allowed me to explore grief. Almost every story I have out there was written with an experiment in mind, but in a way that is still enjoyable for you to read. But that’s the small scale.
The large scale, of course, are the novels. There are full-time authors I would kidnap/murder/teleport/beg to get a novel out of, but they can’t afford it. Literally, they cannot afford to write a novel because that removes their ability to pen screenplays, game material, scripts, etc. that they are paid handsomely for. I was one of them.
Now, that may sound like an excuse, especially to those of you who make time to write novels. The thing I’ve learned is, that if you want to write novels, you write novels. If you want to pen short stories, write those. Scripts? Etc. Etc. Etc. Mind you, there’s a reason why I’m writing short stories while other more sinister plots are hatched on my laptop, but money is a reality and a motivator for people to write in the first place.
Having a steady source of income allows me to achieve what I want to creatively because I have more flexibility to make decisions. If I’m scrambling (e.g. broke or uncertain) then I have to make tough choices that’ll cut into other goals. And I have, because I want to deliver and deliver well regardless of what I’m working on.
Money isn’t the only cause to make goals longer-term, though. For me, it’s about process and mastery of a particular form. I love to write. Love it. This is the Work. This is Art. This is Life to me. Marketing, which is part and parcel to being an author now-a-days, was my distraction. A huge one. Oh, I got suckered into the fray and wanted to do the things everybody else was doing because I, like many in this industry, enjoy and want to belong to the community. ****ERROR****MISTAKE****ERROR****BALETED****. Mind you, I do the marketing thing for The Day JobTM. Some marketing occurs based on perception rather than science so you get a bunch of people doing “X” because everyone else is. Wheeeee! Isn’t this fun!?!?!
No, not really. Not if it distracts you from the Work. And, in reality, it’s not always valuable to market. Sometimes, there is great value in shutting the hell up. Especially if it cuts into the thing you hold most dear and causes you to doubt your efficacy based on silly notions. There is what happens, there are the common perceptions of what really occurs, and there are the things that develop based on those illusions.
This notion is what led me to write “Planting the Decision Tree” for the newly-launched Book Life. In the article, I talk about the sides of the equation to weigh when making a decision. Learned, painfully, through trial-and-error. Who is the master of your destiny? You. Not anyone else. You. Well, and (more to the point and the reason why I’m writing this post) me.
Anyhoo, back to the original topic which, as usual, I meandered away from. Yes, my goals are long-term. Very. They are not fixed and immutable, however, because if they were I would be (to put it mildly) screwed. This is why I have more than one set of them, because I cannot survive if I bank everything on IT. If I concentrate only on IT, then I have blinders on to get to IT and miss out on opportunities when other things fall apart. (And that, my readers, is something I have a lot of experience with. Things falling apart. Not to be confused with the book Things Fall Apart which, of course, is a fantastic tome.)
I do plan well in advance but all the mad plots in the world are mere puffs of smoke. What they’re based on, however, is the Work. What am I penning? Well, if you stick with me, you’ll certainly find out. 🙂
Mood: Con Crud by Proxy
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Less than I would like but not half as much as I deserve.
Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I moved from couch to chair.
In My Ears: Kingdom Hearts
Game Last Played: Um… Double um…
Movie Last Viewed: Can’t remember. Darn it!
Latest Artistic Project: Cross-stitch
Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG