The second half of 2017 has flown by.
Why? Because I’ve actually being doing something with myself.
Actually, that’s a lie. In the first seven months of 2017 I was working, at a snail’s pace, on my novel, and hoping that maybe one day it would be done and maybe it would be good enough to approach agents with. But I wasn’t taking it all that seriously; it was just a bit of fun.
The doubts hung around at the back of my mind and laughed at me condescendingly every time I thought of the novel being published, but the maybes hung on and carried me through to mid-August. That’s when – and cue Mick Jagger wailing something about nervous breakdowns – I had probably my seventh quarter-life crisis in the past two years.
I’m a freelance copywriter. I’m lucky; I get to write all day for a living in the comfort of my spare bedroom-cum-office. I love the flexibility and freedom it offers me, and I get to play around with words all day every day. But it’s just not fulfilling in the same way that writing fiction is.
I want my writing to entertain and enthral, to make people laugh and even eke out a few tears. I want to earn a living not just from writing, but from telling stories. Even if that living was only enough to support my book junkie habits, I’d be a happy chappy to know that I’m earning my keep doing something I love.
When all is said and done, I want to be an author. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was a wee little thing, but which has always seemed like an unachievable pipe dream. Over and over I’ve questioned my career in copywriting and marketing and wondered if I’ll forever be stuck doing something that only pays the bills without giving me pleasure. I’ve shed tears about it, I’ve raged about it, I’ve considered going back into education to retrain in something new, and I’ve dedicated hours to brainstorming my perfect career. Writing fiction is always the dream job I come back to. So, in August 2017, after one career crisis too many, enough was enough.
I was wasting time wishing my career was different when I could have been spending time trying to make it different.
The last 5 months of this year have flown by in a flurry of short story-writing, novel-writing, Twittering (why didn’t I join the writing community on Twitter sooner? Everyone is so lovely and funny and inspirational), reading, researching the publishing industry and yet more writing. I’ve started to look at all this activity as work, even if it is currently unpaid, and I plan to continue doing the same long into 2018 and beyond.
Here’s what I’ve ticked off in 2017:
I took my novel from 15,000 words of nonsense to 80,000+ words of pretty good stuff and am in the process of tidying up and perfecting it.
I’ve compiled a list of Really Awesome Agents that I’d love to work with and have already started drafting some query cover letters.
I’ve also told friends and family about my writing aspirations, which feels like a big deal because it means I’ve finally decided in my mind that I’m going to try my best to make it happen.
And what does 2018 have in store?
I want to start querying my novel within the first quarter. If I have no luck in finding a literary agent, I’ll self-publish by the end of the year because I want my book to be out there in the world in one way or another.
I’m going to continue my twice-weekly short stories here, and quite fancy foraying into flash fiction as an exercise in becoming less verbose and getting straight to the point (which is absolutely necessary judging by the length of this sentence).
I want to challenge myself to another post-a-day short story series, although perhaps the stories will be a little shorter and easier to manage than those in my Night Before Christmas series.
I also hope to start submitting short stories to magazines, e-zines, anthologies and competitions in hopes of building up a more varied portfolio and getting my work out to a wider audience.
I’m also getting married next August and have a wedding dress to buy, a shit tonne (that’s a technical term) of bunting to make and an awful lot of vital details to organise. It looks like 2018 is set to be a very busy year indeed.
I’m excited. And that’s a big deal. I rarely get excited for each new year. I usually find myself wallowing in self-pity, thinking about time I’ve wasted doing nothing despite dreaming of doing so much. I tend to berate myself over how little I’ve achieved and how I’ll never achieve anything of worth in the coming months. But this time, things are very different. I feel hopeful for the future. This year, I want to make things happen.
Fellow writers, what are your plans for 2018?