In addition to all the plans and goals I shared last week, there was one other goal I wanted to mention. When I bought my planner, it came with one large pull-out sheet in the back, which included one line for each day of each month. I looked at it for a while before I decided what I wanted to do with it. But since I got that planner months ago, I decided to wait until the new year to use it so I wouldn’t have any wasted space.
See, it’s perfect for tracking word counts. I typically write down the amount I’ve written on my calendar pages, but that can make it difficult to find room to write in other things, such as dentist appointments. Using one sheet to track my writing all year sounded great. But it also spurred me to create another goal, which is to write something every day for a year.
I don’t know how realistic that is, given everything that’s going on right now, but I figured it would be a great way to motivate me to keep working. Even if I only write a sentence, it’s forward momentum, pushing me steadily toward the lofty goals I set for this year. And that way, I can easily check in every week and share my word counts. But since I track my weeks as Monday to Sunday, and the year started on a Tuesday, my first week’s counts ran from the 1st to the 6th. You can see my progress in the photo there: 4,643 words added to the first draft of Spectrum Blade. Considering everything else that’s happening, that’s not too bad. It’s generally right where I need to be to keep up my goal of 500-700 words per day.
Right now, we’re finishing work on our house to put it on the market. It’s been a whirlwind of scrubbing and cleaning and packing and this is actually one of the first times I’ve had to sit down and rest. I’ll be doing a little writing as soon as I finish writing this post, then I’ll be dismantling kitchen cabinets for refinishing. Fun times. Big job. It hasn’t left me any room to start editing just yet, so I’m glad I gave myself a whole six weeks to revise Serpent’s Tears.
After each writing session, I’ve been trying to spill some thoughts into a journal, too. I’ll likely clean up a lot of them to share here as I go through this process, because I think writing about my progress on my blog each week will be good for me, even if it isn’t exactly riveting content. The older I get, the more I find I appreciate just seeing into other people’s thought processes and what they’re going through. Yesterday, I saw some of my own thoughts mirrored in a blog post written by an author I greatly admire, and I found it incredibly reassuring to know that someone so far above me on the ladder still battles the same feelings.
It’s kind of funny–I’ve always wanted to be an author, ever since I was a small child. But as I get older and I accomplish more, I find myself moving the goal post farther and farther away. Once the goal was to write a book. Now I’ve written 14, and writing a book isn’t enough. After that, the goal was to be a published author. After several books were out, I found the desire became the want to work with a publisher. After I gained experience on the internal workings of a small press, I found my eyes went higher–The Big Five publishing houses and a desire to be recognized by them.
No matter what I’ve achieved, it hasn’t been enough. 14 books. 8 published. Opportunities to work with a small press. It was never enough.
Part of that is because as we advance, we need new goals to keep us motivated and moving forward. We want that onward and upward climb, but at some point, we also have to stop and consider: what do we gain from continuing? How do we know there’s a bigger, better something beyond what we have now? How do we know there’s a next level? We don’t–and we often delude ourselves with the idea that without continually striving toward the next level, we are nothing.
So as I move into this new year, that’s something I want to be more mindful of: the knowledge that I am–what I’ve already done is–already enough. It’s okay to want to achieve more. It’s okay to have greater goals. I have some. I want to publish the fantasy books that have lived in my heart and head for close to two thirds of my life. I want those stories to inspire and entertain people. I want them to spark passion in readers. I also want to be paid for my work, because publishing is a grueling and expensive endeavor and if there is no money coming in, I cannot afford to keep producing books. And somewhere down the line, I’d like that writing to help pay some bills now and then. But I also need to work on taking pride in what I’ve already achieved and remind myself that not everyone can do the things I’ve done. I’m answering my life’s calling. Now I need to accept that the answers I’ve given are satisfactory.
But I’ll stop there, as this is starting to get long. That was just a bit of the thought process I captured on the first page of my journal, and I’ve written a page of thoughts each day since the first of January. I’ll save the rest for next week. I could probably type for hours, but right now, I have work I need to do.