Sunday, 23 June 2013

The next five years of my writing

On Saturday, as part of the Worcestershire Literary Festival, I happened to visit the Authors' Fair (image shows me talking with Mark Billen on the centre right hand side of the picture, looking at one of his books; picture by Geoff Robinson). 25 authors gathered to present their works and sell copies of their books, including many of my brilliant and talented friends from the Worcester Writers' Circle and from the 42 Worcester genre fiction community, and it got me thinking about potential publication for my own works.

As regular readers of this site will know, I wrote a novel last year in November as part of NaNoWriMo. I suppose some of you may be wondering what happened with that first novel of mine? Well the novel has since been put in a drawer (an electronic folder actually, but a drawer sounds more traditional) to mature so that I can approach it afresh in due course. Certain people have been badgering me to reveal it to the world, but I don't feel it's ready. I would be embarrassed to let anyone read it in its current state. It needs heavy editing, but not yet.

But the visit to the authors' fair and other events this week got me thinking. There were so many people around me this week who are full-time writers. At the 42 event the other night, I met Adam Millard (who was also at the authors' fair), who is a full-time writer, and a great inspiration, and a great writer too!

Nearly five years ago, I set myself publicly the goal to eventually earn enough writing to give up the day job to write full-time. I did not state it publicly at the time, but my goal was to do it by 1 December 2018.

Ten years.

Tim Lebbon, my original inspiration, is ten years older than me, so ten years is a fair goal, I think. Now just as a point of clarification particularly for any of my colleagues who read this, I love my day job, and would be very sad to give it up, and actually have no desire to do so, therefore I'll modify the goal to be in a comfortable position with my writing to give up the day job to write full-time, should I so desire. But, to repeat myself and reassure my colleagues and bosses I'm not planning on leaving any time soon, I have no desire to leave my day job, because I love it so much.

I am happy with my writing right now. I am where I would have hoped to be five years ago. I didn't set out specifically any way points on my journey, but I am happy with where I've come to thus far. I've got a novel under my belt (a pile of shit awaiting a polish though it currently is), and inspired by the people around me, I am writing much more regularly. I am also getting my name and work out there, enjoying the local poetry and prose spoken word performance circuit, and have earned a couple of pounds for my writing over the last few years. I have also been a finalist in the county Poet Laureate competition, two years running.

Recently I went through some boxes of old papers and stuff, and discovered tons of old false starts of novels I had attempted to write and abandoned. Getting out my magnification equipment to read them, I find they're not actually that bad, and could be whipped up into something decent if I put my mind to it.

Now we're nearly five years on since the writing became serious again in my life, it's time to assess how that's been going. If I am going to hit my intended goal in the time limit I set myself, I need to ramp things up over the next five years if I'm going to continue to be happy with my writing goals. I need to start whipping a few books into shape and get them out there. Five years ago, I would not have thought of ebooks, Amazon Kindle, etc., but there has been an ebook revolution over the last five years, and independent publishing has become so much easier. Despite initial scepticism, I am now a firm ebook fan (partly due to my visual impairment encouraging me to make the shift from paper to ebook). I would never have discovered such great and inspirational scribes as the wonderful steampunk writer Lindsay Buroker or the amazing historical fiction author Zoe Saadia without my Kindle. They too are amazing and rôle models in whose footsteps I can only hope to follow (whilst finding my own independent path, of course).

I need to write more, and more often.

Inspired by the people I met on Saturday afternoon, I got 10147 words written on Saturday 22 June 2013, which is more words written in a day than I've ever done before (my previous record was 10026 words in one day, a personal record set on 1 January 2002). I don't know if I can keep up the pace, but we'll see.

I need to get published, and more often.

By the end of the year, I am setting myself the goal of having at least two quality books with my name on the cover available for purchase (via ebook and paper), with more to follow. Next year I plan to have a table at the authors' fair for myself. In fact, I'm going to book myself a table at the earliest opportunity, even though I have nothing to sell on it yet. That should motivate me to get something finished or edited into shape to be sales-worthy to get published, in time for the fair next year.

I also have other goals, particularly non-writing and linguistic goals. More on those in due course.

So let's reiterate my goal: by 1 December 2018, I aim to be in a comfortable position with my writing to give up the day job to write full-time, should I so desire.

It's going to be a tough challenge, but with your support, dear reader, I will get there.