Brave New Year

Now this is the point in the year where I should really be setting myself some writing objectives for the year ahead. I did this last year and got on quite well. I’m going to sort of do the same thing this year but these will be more like vague targets rather than hard objectives. If I don’t manage these ones then I’m not going to cry too hard. Why? Because I’m lazy. No, just kidding. Because my wife is pregnant. She has been for some time but I’ve trying to pretend it wasn’t really happening. The bump is hard to ignore now though, especially when it kicks you. In less than four months, if all goes well, I’ll be a father and there will a small, living, breathing human in this world that I’ll have to look and try not to ruin. Already our house and my head is filling with items and words I never thought I would need to know. These are strange times for me. The writing will have no choice but to take a back seat.

So now excuses have been made, I shall go ahead and list what I am hoping to achieve:

Find an agent for my novel The Mechanician’s Apprentice
The novel is nearing a point where I feel confident showing it to agents or publishers, the sort of people who might sneer at it or might (if all the planets are aligned) actually decide to do something with it. I now know what sort of book this is and how it should be marketed (it’s a two-part, young adult, steampunk adventure where understanding science is the key to survival). I’m also working on a shortlist of agents and have already invested in some professional tutoring on how to submit a query letter.

Write a novella
You know how (if you’re a writer) you have a list of ideas that you want to write and it just keeps getting longer and longer? Well I’ve got one idea that’s being sitting permanently at the top of that list for well over a year now. I’ve been holding it back to concentrate on the novel but feel the time is right to have a crack at it. It’s dark, it’s modern and is built atop one hell of a twist. It’s also based on one of the short stories you’ll have seen on this site. I’m not going to tell you which one though.

Writer another novella
Yes that’s right, it’s same objective twice. I’ve got a few other burning ideas lingering in my mind that are longer than short stories but probably not as long as novels. I’m not actually sure which one will work out yet but my current favourite is a supernatural drama set during WW2. Also, should I somehow manage to write these two novellas, I’m going to self-publish one as I did with The Thief of Sleep and the other I’ll try marketing around and seeing what sort of avenues there are for publishing that length of work.

So there we go. It’s going to be a tough year. A tough, tough year. Expect to see a lot less of me on Twitter and the blogs but know that somewhere, somehow I will still be writing. Even if it’s only my dazed and confused mind.

But wait – there’s other stuff happening this year!

I’ve signed up for an online writing course! This was one of my objectives for last year but I managed to miss the start of the few courses I liked the sound of. So this year I was hot of the marks and got myself signed for 10-week Creative Writing course organised by the University of Strathclyde. This kicks off on Monday and I’m pretty looking forward to.

I’m going to a new writer’s group! I moved house just before Christmas (more bedrooms, you can guess for yourself whether or not this was motivated by the bump). This sadly meant that I moved away from my old writing group that I had been going to for a year and loving. It does however mean that there is a brand new writing group that meets just down the road from me to try out now! They seem to be a lot more organised, have workshops and social events and even a resident Writing Fellow. Wow! So that starts next week as well on Wednesday so there is yet more writing experience coming down the pipeline for me.

So what about the rest of you? What writing objectives are you hoping to achieve and what potential hurdles stand in your way?

Title image courtesy sarchi

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 8:49 PM  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Happy new year! Sounds like it’s going to be an exciting one with the baby on the way! Best of luck with it all. Should I be looking forward to another installment of the Mechanician’s apprentice? I think you mentioned there was one more part to it.

    Also out of curiosity, are you querying UK or US agents? I’m in a weird position being from Canada, that I might try querying the UK, but I’m having trouble finding guidelines on that. I know the requirements are slightly different.

    • Thank you very much! There is a 3rd installment of The Mechanician’s Apprentice but it’s longer than the first two parts combined so I might chop it in half for you.

      I am querying UK agents initially but I am aware that the US market might actually be a bitter fit for my book. I’m not sure what you would do being Canada – does Canada not have its own publishing microverse to tap into? For selecting UK agents to approach you might find this article useful:

      • The industry is tiny here. There are only less than a handful of agencies. Most Canadians query in the US, but i know some who had success in the UK. Thanks for the link!

  2. Speaking only from my own experience… having a baby will most probably profoundly alter your writing habits, at least for the foreseeable future. My dear little B.T. is fully into his toddler-hood, now, but his demands on my time have not abated. And I find that as much as writing is a fundamental self-definitional thing for me, given the choice, I prefer spending time with the little tyke. Writing is part of who I am, but the little guy has become my raison d’etre.

    Of course, my own experience is different in that I was also attending a very rigorous evening MBA program while also working a full-time job when baby came along, so any writing at all, however little, was frankly a miracle.

    As for the Novellas: good luck! If you get them both done and manage “not to ruin” a new life in this world, you’ll have accomplished something quite extraordinary! However, I’m afraid you’ll likely find precious few traditional markets open to Novellas. I do believe they exist, but they’re few and far between. (Some trad book publishers will publish them as stand-alone book volumes and some short story markets will actually serialize longer works like this, but I’ve not found many examples of either.)

    My own goals/plans/dreams for the New Year:

    • See now Stephen, you’ve done exactly what all other parents have done when I’ve told them my news – instead of just going “congratulations, that’s great news” they hold a torch under their face and go “wooooo! you’lllll never slleeeppp againnn!” I’m poking fun of course (although it is a true point), all glimpses into the road ahead are much appreciated!

      Yeah the novellas finding a market thing, I’m certain I’ll struggle with that but it is intended as a discovery project (I’m also half-hoping the novella will magically transform itself into a short novel).

      • Well… the amount of sleep you get will depend largely on several factors that aren’t consistent or universal across all babies: your child’s temperment, feeding habits, and decisions by the parents on how to feed the baby (which obviously is a very personal decision). But some babies sleep more soundly than others. And their schedules will vary as to when they will wake expecting to be fed. Eventually, though – man I can’t even remember when the transition happened – they learn to sleep through the night. But for the first 6 months, at least… there’s a lot of waking up at night.

        There’s some books targeted at expectant fathers that help to give an idea of what to look forward to. I’d check some of those out at the library and maybe just kind of peruse it lightly just to get an idea of what’s possibly coming.

      • Cheers for the advice! I’ve got a few of those sorts of the books. The one I’m reading just now though isn’t that practical – it mostly consists of jokes that are followed by “but probably best not to say that in front of your partner”.

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