When I was younger I made resolutions. They were always sort of silly, though I didn’t think so at the time. Mostly stuff anyone ought to do as a matter of course. Lose twenty pounds, stop fighting with my little brother, be nicer to my friends. Like that. I’ve come to believe as I grow older that perhaps we ought to set some goals for ourselves each new year and consider them fulfilled if we managed to attain one or two. And forget those resolutions we’re only going to break before January is gone.
I’m a list maker and a bit obsessive compulsive about my life. I want to know what I’ll do each day, hate it when someone calls and asks me to do something that isn’t in my plans for the day or week. So with that in mind, my goals for the new year will go on a list. It’s a given that the more we expect of ourselves, the more we’ll accomplish. And even if we don’t check them all off at the end of the year, perhaps we’ll fulfill more of our wishes than if we just trailed along doing whatever comes up.
Obviously, we’re not all alike, so this method will not suit everyone. First organize each day of the week. Then make room for extra tasks. As writers we know we must first and foremost WRITE every day. I do take Sunday off to loaf, watch movies or visit with family or play in the yard. Whatever suits my fancy.
As anyone of you who keeps up with my blog, you see that this is my first entry since Dec. 8, more than 20 days ago, so obviously I found something else to do on those Monday’s when my calendar says Promo; Blogs; Etc. Written there the past few weeks in red was prepare for the holidays. On Tuesday the calendar tells me to write my column and once a month an additional column. Then the remainder of the work week is for WIP. For those of you who haven’t been in this business very long, that means Work In Progress.
Beginning January 1, I’ll be back on that schedule. Since Christmas I’ve been recovering from the holiday. Spouse and I don’t do much for New Year’s anymore, just fall asleep in front of the TV waiting for the ball to drop on Times Square, then trail off to bed murmuring Happy New Year to one another.
Thankfully, the coming year should prove to be exciting, for I’m working on two books that are contracted. There’ll be much research, much local traveling and interviewing, picture taking and the gathering of information in general, as well as putting the books together. I’m grateful to have this opportunity with the book business in such disarray. A third contract looks to be in the offing for a book not due for a while. All of these with small publishers.
I can’t urge you enough to pitch your ideas to these people who aim their books at specific audiences, especially while the New York fiction markets are floundering about.
I live in the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks. For 20 years I’ve interviewed and written about people whose families have lived here for generations. Their history is unique and heart warming, and their stories extremely poignant, humorous and filled with adventure. To my delight, things that happen in the Ozarks are extremely popular. One publisher told me, “Put Ozarks in the title and it’ll sell.” Who knows what causes these shifts in popularity.
The two books I’m currently writing have Ozarks in the title. One is about the lost communities of the area, how the people lived, loved, played and worshiped; the other is a book of recipes from the Boston Mountains, some stories, the history of the food culture, and pictures. They’re a perfect match for each other, in that I can probably gather information and write them at the same time.
If you have an expertise there are probably some small publishers out there just waiting for your pitch. Oh, yes, I know. Fiction is so much fun to write. I agree, and I have a lot of fiction floating around out there, looking for a home. But nonfiction is where the sales are at, so you might as well get in on it. What do you do? How do you do it? Wouldn’t someone like to know the answer to those questions? Check it out. Make some goals, lists, or whatever it takes to make this new year one of your best yet. And if you don’t do anything else in the coming year, Network. That’s where you’ll learn what’s hot and what’s not.
Happy New Year to you and yours.