Looking forward to 2011… and beyond

I’m probably not the only person who has been reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next one. As I’ve thought about and planned my writing goals for the next year, I’ve been trying to put them in a more big-picture context of a writing career.

My first goal is to finish Doubting River. I should have finished it this year, but I completely overwhelmed myself in the latter half of the year. I backburnered it for a while, and then had trouble getting back on track.


I know I’m busy, so I’m going to be realistic. Desired word count per day: 500 words. Absolute minimum, must-accomplish-or-else: 250 words. If I do more than 500 words, that’s gravy.

Second goal is to update this blog twice a week. Sunday and Thursday, I think. I’ve been thinking about how to focus the blog in a way that will satisfy my current readership and, hopefully, increase it. The feedback I’ve gotten is that people seem to like the writing-related posts, which is good, because there aren’t enough dog- or farm-related events to warrant regular updates.

My plan, then, is to continue to blog about my novel and the industry, but to focus the bulk of the posts on “A Plotter’s Guide to Novel Writing.” I am a plotter to the extreme, and because I first wrote screenplays, I’m passionate about structure. Those “Just write and see where it takes you!” pantser types will no doubt feel ill at the thought of putting so much planning into your first draft. Keep an open mind though. You might find something helpful for your editing rounds!

Those of you who want to read more about River, Pax, Pflouff, and the rest of the critters, don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve needed more photos and videos on the site. So I think I’ll make a goal of including a dog pic (or video) with each post, plus a short anecdote or update. If you think about it, you’re probably going to get more content than if I targeted the blog around the dogs!

My remaining writing-related goals are dependent upon the completion of goal number one:

Goal #3: Get an agent. I want to attend at least one conference this year — preferably two — and I want to get another partial critique from an agent during Brenda Novak’s charity auction in May. I did that last year, and the agent has requested the full. I will definitely send it to her as soon as it’s complete.

And finally…

Goal #4: Start a new book! I already have the premise. I’ve been anxious to write it for a long time, but I refuse to do so until Doubting River is out on submission.

I’m really looking forward to 2011! What about you? What are your goals?

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8 Responses to Looking forward to 2011… and beyond

  1. Crystal says:

    My goal for the dog is to learn a new trick each month.

    I am going to take a yoga class in the new year, with promises that I will stretch more often.

    And finally, I want to spend less time on the internet and more time with books.

  2. robin sallie says:

    I read everything you write no matter the topic so I am happy how ever it all shakes out.

  3. vicky says:

    Hi Melissa:

    I just have one dumb question. You said “Goal #3: Get an agent. …. I did that last year, and the agent has requested the full…”

    So doesn’t this mean that you have an agent? Or at least someone really interested in this piece of work??

    • Melissa says:

      That is confusing, isn’t it? I do not have an agent. Last summer, through a charity auction, I got a critique from an agent of the first three chapters of my work-in-progress, and she has requested the full when the novel is finished. That’s awesome, but it’s not an offer of representation.

      • vicky says:

        I see. I kind of thought it was ‘sort of’ an ‘I might want to represent you’ thing. I knew it wasn’t official. I wouldn’t think they’d say that just to be polite. From the little I have read, I would think you will be able to find an agent once it’s done, if you have to wait til it is complete, but maybe you don’t need to wait that long.

        • Melissa says:

          Sadly, I have to wait until the manuscript is completely finished before querying. I wish it weren’t so — Having someone to impose external deadlines would keep me on task.

          Thanks for the compliment though!

          • vicky says:

            Tks, Melissa

            Keep going!! and good luck!!

            By the way (unless you’re getting sick of talking to me) is self publishing worth it?

  4. Melissa says:

    Is self-publishing worth it? If your goal is to get a few copies in print for your friends and family, sure! If you have bigger goals, it depends.

    * For fiction, almost never (in my opinion). Exception is someone who has successfully published several novels through traditional publishers and built a loyal following.

    * For nonfiction, yes, *if* you have an established audience — such as a speaker who can sell the book at his speaking engagements or someone who has a strong Internet-based following.

    There are exceptions — people who didn’t have a following who succeeded — but they are truly exceptions. Most self-published books sell only a handful of copies, and once a manuscript has been self published, most traditional publishers won’t even consider it.

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