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My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Niche For the Filling

Not THOSE kind of agents!
Image description: Agents of Shield
There's a bad need in non-traditional publishing for someone who wants to learn how to help writers navigate the non-writing part. 

Before we can kick off 2018 in earnest, I have a COUPLE of more admin duties. (This does not include tabulating the quintillion nominations for The Book Was So Much Better poll that will ALSO happen this weekend.) I need to update a couple of the menus for the new year (the ones that run along the top of the web view page) and I owe my Patrons and Kickstarters an Inside Scoop from the last few months. My plan is to knock those out this weekend. There are guest blogs, mailboxes and everything coming. I'm even going to stop by Office Max and see if I can find some easy way to create something I can move from a "needed" slot of some kind into a "completed" slot. (I was actually serious when I said it was going to be like Deal-A-Meal). 

In the meantime though, talking with a guest blogger about a guest blog (soon to go up) and her frustrations with how to handle the multiple format changes and sales platform updates for a growing body of self-published works. A little investigation revealed something to me......

Several years ago, back during the first year of Writing About Writing when I had readers in the double digits and made a penny a month, I spoke of a niche in publishing. I made my instructors eyes go wide as saucers and my friends in publishing go "Hot DAMN! You're onto something!"

And at the time, I was.

Of course now that niche has been filled by several companies and is even competitive, but in 2012 it was an open market and would have been a cash cow (at least for a while). It wasn't for me because I wanted to write, and, sadly, even though a lot of people around me were telling me that I'd definitely found an empty niche, I only had readers in the double digits. So it was filled by a few small presses that eventually found it and no one whose name I could drop or anything.

Well, I have another.

It's nothing I would ever do (again, I'd rather write), but if one or some of you might feel entrepreneurial enough, there's probably money to be made. I wouldn't invest the Grantham fortune on it or quit my six figure day job, but I've got a lot of friends in the industry (the agent/publishing end) and they've pretty much never heard of this. But I also know a lot of writers, and they would totally pay for it or something like it.

I'm not sure if you would label it more like a "manager" or a "non-traditional literary agent" but the job would involve helping writers publish, format, and update in various non-traditional venues. Basically they hand you their finished word document, and you make the magic happen. Then fill out an invoice.

I'm talking about learning the formatting for various e-publication venues. For example, formatting a book for Kindle on MOBI is different than an EPUB file, which is what several other readers use. And BOTH of those are very different than the word document a writer has at the end of writing a book that they aren't sure what to do with. Someone they could just pay to handle that would be worth it to many of them. This would probably involve a lot of technical savvy and maybe some light coding.

Also keeping various sites updated like the book's Amazon product pages, Goodreads, or any other venue is time consuming, technical, certainly has a learning curve for every. single. venue. and is probably something most writers would rather farm out, even if they had to pay for it. Likely setting up some social media would (or could) also be involved for many writers or just being a whiz at how a new writer can promote their new book to get some eyeballs. Possibly the relationship could even involve finding places that would be good for guest blogs or useful self-promotion. And it's even possible that a good client/agent rapport might involve some heartfelt advice prior to publication about what changes might make something a little more marketable–much like a traditional literary agent. The writer may even pay for things like chapter deadlines and a little bit of pressure to get them moving on subsequent books.

Not that fucking kind of agent!
Who's in charge of finding pictures?
I want them sacked.
Image description: Matrix agents.
It would be a lot like being a literary agent in many ways–just very much non-traditional. I imagine at first one would have to accept a lot of clients who only want their book formatted and absolutely no input, but as time went on and a reputation grew, they could be pickier and pickier about clients and take on fewer clients who pay more for a relationship where someone is really taking care of the business end of their non-traditional writing career. Lord knows I'd pay for that. I spend too much time as it is NOT writing with all the Facebook shit.

And like most things in non-traditional publishing, one of its benefits is that you could start immediately. Today. Just create a website and a FB page, hang out a virtual shingle and start trying to find clients. You could probably have a couple of writers lined up before next week.

The only thing I'm aware of that exists that is even a little bit like this is scams. Those "Publish Yourself" packages that are WAY overpriced and CLEARLY designed to fleece an unwary writer who thinks they're a book release away from being the next George Martin. They take WAY too much money, run your book through a grammar checker, put it into ONE format, and if you pay quite a bit extra they do a social media campaign that is.....to be generous....lackluster. Then they take thousands of dollars and run; most authors using them feel properly conned.

So hey, it's not my thing, but if you end up being a Non-Traditional Literary Agent, maybe you'll remember who pointed you that direction when I'm shopping for one.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018 Update Schedule (Buckle up Broflakes and SQiD's)

Text in image: "Dear haters, I have
so much more for you to be mad at.
Just be patient."
If you're the type of fragile broflake, edgelord, or SQiD who threaten to leave Writing About Writing every time I deign to suggest that social issues A) matter, B) are affected by things like written language, C) are features, not bugs of our deep seated culture, D) a progenitor culture that might just be influenced by the arts, media, and entertainment, and E) that bigotry sucks, then this post might make you gnash–

Eh, you know what? I don't give a shit. Actually, it might give me one of those shivers of ecstasy–not quite a full-on Big O, but definitely pleasant.

The reason this update schedule change, which SHOULD be quite simple, is literally taking me weeks to accomplish is chiefly because Breath of Wind is pretty cool there aren't enough hours in the week.

While my update schedules are mostly for me, and perhaps the three or four readers drooling to know how often they can expect some various type of update to show up ("How often does he do a mailbox? Damn it, man! I need a mailbox! I must know! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, I MUST KNOW!!!!"), one of my goals for 2018 was to revamp the seat-of-my-pants flying that I'd been doing for....oh about three fucking years now. At least since cancer, and probably more like since The Contrarian popped in.

I put it to the Patrons what they wanted to see more of.

Then I tried to set up a schedule with that in it.

And basically I got an error message. "We're sorry, but you have either tried to divide by zero or think that you can get 10 updates a week into a 7 update a week schedule. Do you wish to restart from the save point before you blew up the entire universe in a gout of flame and screaming babies?"

*click "Yes"*

*start over*

So here's the problem. Seven updates a week. Somewhere around THIRTY-FIVE different segments we do (not including polls) that I'd like to rotate through on a regular basis.  And four of those segments are going weekly (and one twice-weekly) leaving exactly three slots a week open to rotate through the other thirty segments, some of which should be bi-weekly.

You see why I'm adding a 27th dimension to get the bosonic string calculus to work. I mean otherwise we'd have to fire up the T/S vortex portals and we kind of learned that was a less-than-capital idea during the first season.

The MCP is working on this when it's not playing frisbee with Tron, but the idea of an "Update Schedule" the way we've had them in the past (Monday is personal update day. Tuesdays I upload myself eating a taco....)  is basically going the way of the Dodo. I had to design something completely different from the ground up. (Let's turn that into a motivational quote!)

"I had to design something completely different from the ground up."

So what I've come up with instead is more like a few guaranteed "staple" posts each week, every other week, and the rest of the segments I will kind of handle like a two month cycle of Deal-A-Meal* posts, trying to work through all of them without repeating before starting over:

SEVEN POSTS PER WEEK

Weekly
  • Two Mailboxes a week (might be one educational and one not or one old and one new or one long and one short or one red and one blue, but it'll be two)
  • One "Educational" Post (listicle, craft, process, basics, etc...)
  • A "plot arc" post or something otherwise fun and silly
Bi-Weekly
  • Personal Update/Novel Progress
  • Reviews (Craft Books, Products, Movies, or Twizzlefizzlepop)
  • Social Justice Bard
  • Guest Posts
  • Deliberate Jazz Hands (Writing Metaphors, Linguistics & Grammar, Blogging about Blogging, The Weirdosity of Fledgling Fame, etc...)
Monthly
  • VLOG
  • Inspiration
  • Prompts
  • "Guest" Bloggers (Leela Bruce, Evil Mystery Blogger, Cannon, Guy Goodman)
  • Fiction
Freeform (Done in place of full posts on days I'm busy or sick, as needed [such as in the case of polls], or overwhelmed )
  • Polls (Calls for nominations, Polls, Reminders to Vote/Nominate, Results)
  • Potpourri
  • Pointer Sisters Links
  • Fluffy Jazz Hands (Fortune Cookies, Meta Updates, Bellwethers, Extra plot posts, etc...)

  • As a reminder I still nanny for a four year old, sometimes have more pet sitting than I can handle and teach summer school six weeks a year, and my host body occasionally succumbs to your Earth illnesses, so those times may not be 7 posts like clockwork or may involve going off the rails of my usual updates
  • This should also cut down on the thing where I'm apologizing to absolutely fucking nobody that it's Tuesday and I've yet to put a taco video up. As long as I get in all the entries that week, my readers (who have literally never said anything in six years about my update schedule) and I can give me a break.
  • Admin weekends will still be a thing–I'll just do five or six posts for that week, depending.
  • And if you want to never have fewer five or six post weeks, or even maybe get me up to eight or nine posts a week, with more obligations for fiction and "meaty posts," you are welcome to become a Patron and make sure I don't have to pet sit, teach summer school, double book, and always take shifts to make ends meet.
  • I'm totally going to double dip sometimes.

Image description:
Coffee mug with text- "If you
think writers like me should shut
up about politics and stick to writing."
Next......If you are following WAW and have (or are among the legions of who exist on WAW's FB page who definitely have) a sort of vaguely inflamed sense that you are entitled to an experience of hilarious, ineffable, absurdly-high-quality writing blog (*COUGH*) that is unsullied by all those nasty hobbit politickses, here is a heads up that this was never your prerogative and is about to be scoured like the shire. Crushed like a human skull in a Terminator movie future sequence. Shot down like an extra in a Star Wars battle. Killed like a red-shirted ensign on a planet with an unknown monster. Torn open from the inside out like the a-hole who is just in it for the money.....uh.....

Uh...

Well, you get the idea.

You see, while it is entirely possible, even likely, that as your eyes glazed over and you skimmed over the update bullet points above, you missed one teensy-weensy, but ever-so-crucial little, tiny detail. 

Image description: Back of mug above-
"A) Fuck you. B) You're wrong.
One of the things my Patrons requested more of almost across the board was more Social Justice Bard posts. 

To be honest, I'd been holding back. I'd like to be writing a lot more about these issues and it's one of the deepest wells of inspiration and almost daily topicality, and I had been second guessing myself a lot. Being a childhood abuse victim meant that the immediate social media backlash to those posts really took some getting used to.

Me: I took a macro from my page down because I think it might have perpetuated rape culture. 
SQiD: Verily, tis the greatest shame of the fascism of social justice thought when writers begin to censor themselves. Lo, this is a dark day indeed when you have succumbed to external forces to tell you what you should write.
Me: Nah, I wanted to take it down. I agreed once it was pointed out to me. But point taken. I should post more of my social justice thoughts on the blog instead of worrying about the backlash.
SQiD: *Nazgul scream*

Of course, adding a post or two a month with a particular focus won't actually matter to most people. Even folks who don't agree with everything I write often thank me for giving them something to think about. It is only those folks who out of their deep concern for my well being and analytics will advise me with what is of course the most well-intended counsel that my best move as someone who is doing [whatever they don't like] is to immediately cease and desist and go back to [the part they like.]

They're just looking out for me, you know.

For starters, it is impossible to not write somewhat politically. It simply can't be done when one considers what politics is. You're either questioning the status quo or you're supporting it, and while it might be unthinking your themes will reflect that. Unless you have a story with no conflict (which isn't a story) something political will be happening. Further, if your story (even allegorically) involves the conflict of man vs. society, you are absolutely writing politically.

"Politics" in the case of folks who want me to not "taint" my blog with them is being used as a placeholder for "social issues that don't affect me and that I don't want to think too much about." And to that I say, "QQ moar, n00b."

Even if I could somehow apolitically point out that the written word is the most powerful social force on Earth, I wouldn't want to do so in a way that keeps everyone sure there is nothing in their culture or upbringing that maybe they ought to consider contributes to the unfair world they see around them. Unfortunately, I'm not here to tuck people's cognitive dissonance into bed at night.

Sorry.


As you may have guessed, however, this guidance perhaps comes more from personal bias and an aggressive championship of the status quo than any keen insight into social media or audience interest. And much like shrugging as they suggest their genius insight into "what sells" .....which happens to match exactly with all their tastes......which happen to match exactly with the status quo, their insistence that 
SQiD: You're going to lose people like me, your once-faithful customers, if you fall down the long, dark hole into this social justice nonsense. It just ruins an otherwise good page, and we'll ALL just leave. One more ghost town tainted by social justice. It'll just be you in your little, tiny echo-chamber bubble talking to like six feminazis who already agree with you. 
Me: Actually, those posts regularly do better. I wouldn't have the audience I do without them. 
SQiD: Well that's just because...um....er....echo chamber....boilerplate....platitude.....bubble. AAAAAA*NAZGUL SCREAM*





*Look it was very big in 1987. Trust me.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When I say Write Every Day....(Personal Update)

Amy Tan and Stephen King
The Rock Bottom Remainders
Remember that writing every day can be a grueling session sweating out a few words on your work in progress, but it doesn't always have to be.

There's a part in "On Writing" (the one by Stephen King) where he talks about letting his son stop playing saxophone. Not because he didn't pull it out and practice like he should (he did), but because he didn't ever cut loose. He didn't jam. He didn't keep practicing after time was up. He didn't add a flourish to a piece of music. He just didn't seem to enjoy it.

I sympathize a lot with this actually. I stopped enjoying band when I switched from trumpet to trombone, but kept at it for two and a half years anyway. 

A lot of people want to be writers. Even if I somehow didn't know this on principle, a casual glance at my inbox would make it crystal clear. Oddly enough many don't seem to enjoy writing very much. It is more like a burden, and if they do it at all it is similar to the obligation of saxophone practice.

I'm in that moment between a lot of blog-centered admin work (like new update schedules, guest blogs, and a poll where I need to sift through a gagillion nominations) and ADD decided to make today extra punchy for me. And so today sucked. It sucked hard. And not in the good, eye-contact and perfect friction kind of way.

But...give me one didactic moment of pez dispenser shaped wisdom here. At least as an allegory.

I still wrote. A lot. Creatively. For HOURS. I put a post up about "The Name of Your Star Destroyer" and spent the day responding to people's replies with the ill fated destinies of their various ships. It was fun. It was silly. It distracted me from work at first in an annoying way that I had executive dysfunction about and kind of couldn't stop but then in a "might as well enjoy it since I'm not getting anything done thanks to you fucking brain weasels" way.

But here's the money shot, and there's no getting around it: it was writing.

It wasn't literary. It wasn't my best. It wasn't anything I would stick with a magnet on the refrigerator. (Okay maybe the one with the rainbow pineapple.) I'm not going to turn it into a short story. There will be no novelization. But I still did some writing. I flexed my creative muscles and had the athlete's equivalent of a jog around the park to stay in shape.

Writing every day is one of the most ubiquitous pieces of advice successful writers give and one of the most resisted by those who want to BE writers. And maybe it might help to know that every single day doesn't always have to be ten pages of your magnum opus. It'll be there tomorrow.

Today's post will not make "The Best of." It will disappear quietly into the night with a hundred other "personal updates" that don't involve death or disease. It is filler slapped up on a tough day. If I did a thousand more like it, I'd lose all my patrons and be eating ramen without the flavor packets. What I did do was more akin to skipping practice to ONLY do a cut-loose jam. But even today–a day I can't seem to bull-ride my brain into more than a few minutes of haphazard wordsmithing–has involved hours of writing...just for fun.

Just for the flourish.

Monday, January 8, 2018

2014-2015

[Note: The text in brackets will disappear in a few weeks. The Best of WAW is getting a bit long down the page, and I'm condensing some of the older articles into their own link.] 

The Very Best of 2015
Helping The Purple People (How Privilege Changes The Story) 
The Trope Skinny 
The Dangerous Intersection 
A Year of Diverse Authors (Cue Literary Frenzy) 
15 Things A Very Cute Toddler Taught Me About Writing (Part 1)  
Why Do I Hate NaNoWriMo? (FAQ)  
Terry Pratchett and "Real" Literature 
Controlling the Narrative: A Case Study within Baltimore 
Sister Act II and How to Know if You Should Be a Writer
The P.C. Police! (Mailbox)

2015's Greatest Hits By Month

The Very Best of 2014
Coming Out as Feminist Let's stop pretending, shall we?
20 Shritstorm Narratives and What's Wrong With Them
A Writer Goes to Burning Man A major revision of my article from 2012
On Social Media and Social Justice A strangely popular "jazz hands" post.
No Apologies: A Defense of Why Speculative Fiction Needs No Defense Revised from 2012
An Open Letter to Lynn Shepherd Remember that woman who told JK Rowling not to write?
Elliot Rodger and The MRA/PUA On Writing
Word Crimes Who exactly was Weird Al trolling with this song?
17 Rules of Writing I might have missed a few....or made up a few. Either way.
How Could You Pick E-Pub? How COULD you? (Mailbox) Hater's gonna hate.

Honorable Mention
That Feminist Crap/Social Justice Bard A menu that would have come in 3rd if it were a post.
Why is the Publishing Industry so Whitewashed? (Mailbox) Missed the top ten by 5 hits.

More of 2014's Greatest Hits by Month

The Very Best of 2017 (Top Ten)


Twenty seventeen was a tough, tough year. You can tell some of the toughness just based on a handful of my top ten articles. Not only was there the death of a beloved pet and the lingering difficulty from losing my family, but on top of that there were nuclear war tweets, literal nazis, and some unprecedented national atrocities.

This part is the easy part. I'll just add these articles to The Best of WAW. The hard part is yet to come. In a couple of days I'll go through the "best of 2017" by month and replace these ten titles as they appear in the monthly view by the fourth (and maybe fifth) best ranked for the month to get the final 2017 rundown.


The Very Best of 2017  
Don't Let Them Change the Story: The Narrative of the Mentally Ill "Lone Wolf"
The Narrative of Normalization
The Return of a "Dark" History (A Literary Review of Thor: Ragnarok)
Social Justice Bard and the Tale of the Nazi Sympathizers
Joss Whedon and the Art Artist Divide
An Old Friend is Sick
Saying Goodbye
Social Justice Bard and the Tale of the Liberals Whose Fault it Is
Social Justice Bard and The Status Quo Defenders ("SQiDs")
Peak Orangosity

Honorable Mention- I wrote several posts this year which definitely have the numbers to place in the top ten (including at #1), but they are sort of more business/admin posts and have done so well, in part, because I repost them so frequently on W.A.W.'s Facebook page.
Facebook Commenting Policy
W.A.W.'s Facebook Page FAQ
Beta Reader Introductions Guidelines Post
Facebook Page Work Sharing Guidelines

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2012-2013

[Note: The text in brackets will disappear in a few weeks. The Best of WAW is getting a bit long down the page, and I'm condensing some of the older articles into their own link.] 

The Very Best of 2013
Changing the Creepy Guy Narrative A real experience from watching someone on BART be harassed.
The Mailbox: Creepy Guy Feedback (In Four Parts): Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
The Mailbox: Why don't you become a REAL Writer Hate mail from a Creative Writing MFA.
The Mailbox: What do I want from Writing About Writing What am I doing, anyway?
A Lit Major Watches Pacific Rim Probably so popular because it was the first post after Creepy Guy.
Prompt: Significant Details Eulogy Can you write one as good as this?
The Mailbox: Strangely Inappropriate Non-Writing Questions Threesomes? Height? Sex? Oh my!
Guest Blogger Amy Puts Down the Smack A guest blogger replies to the daily writing naysayers.
25 Words of Wisdom From Fight Club to Writers Also Part 2  There's some wisdom in this movie!
5 Reasons I Hate that "What the Author Meant" Meme A viral meme that delights in its own ignorance.

Happy Birthday to Writing About Writing A little meta, but W.A.W.'s first birthday got a lot of traffic.

More of 2013's Greatest Hits by Month

The Very Best of 2012
20 Ways To Sabotage Yourself As A Writer My first semi-"viral" post on Stumbleupon
Morning Writing (The Lessons of Brande) Eliminate Writer's Block
The Floating Half Hour of Writing Brande's step two to eliminate writer's block.
15 Excuses Writers Make That Aren't Fooling Anyone Writers make lots of excuses.
NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad, And the Really Really Ugly
15 Terrifying Things That Will Make You a Better Writer 
8 Things Prometheus Can Teach You About How NOT to Write
Grammar Memes
Guest Blogger L.Avjean- Writing Survival Characters: An Undeadly Epiphany
A to Zen of a Writer's Life The ABC's of being a writer.  Literally...

More of 2012's Greatest Hits by Month 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Patrons, Patron Muses, and How This is Even Possible

Can I ever thank certain people enough? About 150 people are making sure that the the rent is paid, the lights stay on, there's food on my table, and rest of you have as much content as I can possibly churn out.

Usually right around the first of the month, I take a moment to ask folks to consider becoming a Patron of Writing About Writing (or maybe just tossing a few dollars at us as a one-time thing). However at the first of the year I'd like to take a moment to thank all of YOU. Through Patreon, through PayPal, through the occasional Venmo or even crossed palm (with folks I've met in person) you have help transform this blog from a sideline gig into a day job. Though I still pet sit to keep my car insured and to have the occasional budget for books, but I'm managing to hold my world together just from writing. And that's because of all of you.

The Patron Muses

Of course I love all my patrons. Even the person who drops a dollar in PayPal once. And in some ways it is more patrons of smaller amounts who have made me feel safe enough to quit a day job or take a chance or most recently to raise my price for double booking pet sitting gigs–all so that I can focus on writing. After all with larger patrons, a life circumstance could change and slash my income by 10% from one month to the next with no warning.

And yet.....

There are a handful of folks who have been extraordinarily generous. In a very real way–a non-trivial, literal way–I am able to do this and bring everyone else so much content because of only a dozen peeps.

I can't talk about how much these folks have meant to me without sounding like I'm spewing hyperbole.  The thing is, I'm not. There are days–and this is no exaggeration–when I'm down and out and other jobs are killing me and from the dredges of apathy and sometimes on the very edge of giving up on this whole "blog thing." (Or at least considering a good, long hiatus.) And it's these folks who make me think "Gotta get out of bed and get something written."

Whether they show up to social events with their entire family dressed in Writing About Writing t-shirts that they have designed and created, donate a non-trivial amount month after month, drop a donation on me that is so huge my mouth literally goes dry, help me by offering to copy edit posts for free, simply help my social media proliferation by liking and sharing just about every damn thing I post, or literally hop into my life and do the actual "muse" thing, they are who I think of when the writing gets hard. They are the ones who, when it gets really tough, I realize I can't let down.

Financially, mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically, the patron muses LITERALLY have made every step of this journey possible.

It isn't enough to post their names and gush once a year. It wouldn't be enough to post their names and gush once a week. But nothing I could ever say would thank them enough, so I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and try to do it ever harder (and ever better).

Thank you so much:

Julia
Margaret
Jeannie
John

Pol

Ginger
Kelly

Alisha
Amy
TM Caldwell
Anonymous x 2

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Book Was Better Poll (Last Chance for Nominations and Seconds)

What movie adaptation do you find yourself telling people the book was so much better? 

This weekend I'm going to tally the results of all the nominations. And I mean ALL the nominations. Good fucking lord.

There's still enough time to get in a nomination, but be sure and drop the comment ON THE ORIGINAL POST or it will get lost in the crossfire. That's also where you'll find the rules if you're confused about anything. There was a time when I could really go round and gather up all the breadcrumb nominations from all the various social media and posts, but things are way too busy now.

Seconds are also needed. And I stress again that this poll will not be doing endless levels of elimination rounds. We were doing that shit on the "Best Modern Fantasy" poll for six goddamn fucking murderous, horrible months.

I will find a number somewhere between 8 and 22 of the most "seconded" titles. And there will either be two quick semifinal rounds or none at all. I know that three and beyond aren't actually "seconds" but do your best to roll with the lemons and the mixed metaphors.

Remember, this isn't about ANY book better than the movie. That's true about 99% of the time. It's not even about good books or bad movies. This is about the books that are just absolutely the most better than the movie.

So drop a nomination or two and second everything you want to see on the poll.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Failing Better (2017 Wrap up/2018 Goals)

Goals are important. (Particularly GOOD goals.)

Failure is also important.

Fortunately, I'm really, REALLY good at both.

It's a really good idea for writers to inventory their goals and periodically check in on how they're going. A dream without a deadline is just a fantasy (and even though many writers would rather enjoy chimerical daydreams of fans, fame, and fortune, a fair number are frustrated at why their big dreams stay so far away year after year.) Breaking big long-range pipe dreams into bite sized chunks (say, six months or a year) can really help a writer make the incremental progress that is much more a part of a realistic career arc than waiting for one's "Stephen King Call."

We can't control everything, of course, (like how many venues choose to publish us) but there are levers we can push that can influence our overall progress and set goals accordingly (like a minimum amount of submissions).

Writers who just sort of like the idea of BEING writers can dream all they want. (It's not like they're hurting anyone...except maybe their loved ones who have to listen to them talk in florid purples about how much they love writing or significant others who weather angsty grousing about how they haven't "made it.") In their minds they are a draft away from greatness, and that's fine. But for writers who really have ambition and are spinning their wheels, I can't recommend enough setting goals and checking back in.

Here's the secret sauce with goal setting though: If you're not failing in those goals, at least some of the time, you're making them way too easy. So failure is not only an option--it's just absolutely part of the cost of doing business.

For me, 2017 was the year of Failing Better in the fullest Samuel Beckett sense of the phrase. I blew off deadlines, fucking fell on my face, ate crow (and will eat more) about my kickstarter, overdid my side job committment, and failed almost every single goal I set up for myself at the beginning of the year. I fell into political ennui, lost productivity to my social issues anxieties, fell into bed or some form of escapism whenever I had a moment, and struggled to get the most basic writing goals accomplished. My furry companion of 17 years died, a naked bigot who tweets nuclear threats was elected, actual, literal Nazis marched through my neighborhoods, and I'd be lying if I said that six months at the end of 2016 was enough to get over losing my family. The whole year was this long, hard climb out of a hole just to get back to "sea level."

And yet, in this year, 2017, I became a working writer. (As in: my hobby that made me a bit of dosh started paying the bills. I need a couple of side gigs for cell phones, car insurance, and fresh produce, but I'm basically doing it.) 2017 was the year I quit my day job to write. 2017 was the year I broke every record (including the month that could not be beat). 2017 was the year it became plausible for me to set fledgling financial goals.



And yet...YET (that's a yet TO the yet)....my successes all happened while I was failing just about as hard as I could.
  • My followers on my Facebook page exploded and took me into a whole other level of page views. Success beyond measure.
  • My follower/subscriber growth on everything but Facebook was almost non-existant. 
  • I managed to keep blogging almost every day and writing every day. That was about it.
  • I wrote almost no fiction. 
  • I got almost no menus, old posts, or tabs cleaned up.
  • I did not really kick back up the "Season 2" posts until the last couple of months.
  • I did not finish my book. (I am probably roughly 1/3-1/2 the way done.)
  • I did not write for Ace of Geeks. Not even once.
  • I spent entirely too much time on social media–despite multiple times resolving to do better.
  • I did not write more reviews of products and awesome lesser-known books.
  • I didn't set a goal to make a dollar amount because at 2016's end, writing was a nice supplement to my job. (That'll change this year.)
2018 goals for the failing:
  • My daily page views are sometimes as high as 10k or more, and sometimes as modest as 1,500. I regularly reach 250,000 in a month. In 2018, I'm going to establish that as a baseline and flex goal to 300k per month.
  • Make and stick to a whole new update schedule that rotates through 
  • Cleaning up an old post, menu, or tab at least every week. (Part of the new update schedule)
  • Resuming Season 2 with some sort of plot post at least once a week. (Part of the new update schedule.)
    Some kind of fiction once every other month. (Flex goal: monthly)
  • Hit a million followers on FB.
  • Writing for Ace of Geeks at least once every other month. (Flex goal: monthly.)
  • Facebook time is REALLY hard to measure and put hardcap limits on, but I am absolutely HEMORRHAGING time on that social media, and I really need to stop.
  • One review each month. Flex goal of one Twizzlefizzlepop book review and one product review each month.
  • I can't really control how many people become Patrons, but writing a lot (and a lot of high quality writing) can predictably catch a few donations here and there and the occasional donor.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Four Days of Contradictions

I have several things half written and a few year end posts, a whole new schedule to roll out, poll reminders, and all kinds of "technically I put something up that day" posts that I usually space out but won't this week because of the following circumstances. The next four days The Contrarian is still out of school, but his parents have had to go back to fighting crime.

So I'm on four 8+ hour days of job three and will do my best to get something up each day. This week, though, might be a little backloaded and weekend heavy.