New Year. New Stories. New Ideas.

By Darlene Cah


When I started thinking about this annual goal-setting post, my first thoughts went to the short story (possible novella) I want to finish, the short story I’m working on whenever I get a chance, the few other stories that have potential if I could just get around to revising them, and all the usual “this will be the year I ____(fill in the blank)____

  1. Become more disciplined about writing (Very doable, if I don’t get distracted by facebook!)
  2. Write every day (Yeah, that’s realistic!)
  3. Write more flash fiction (Okay…)
  4. Submit to more journals and contests (Gotta write to do that!)
  5. Receive an acceptance from my favorite foo-foo lit journal, complete with an artsy-fartsy picture and interview (Hello? Are you writing?)
  6. Target specific publications with a detailed, strategic plan (Great idea! So? Start already!)
  7. Apply to and be accepted into a prestigious workshop, with lauded faculty who aren’t above drinking with the attendees, and where the vegans look down on the vegetarians (Just can’t resist the cynicism, but sign this Greek yogurt-packin’ vegetarian up!)
  8. Win a Pushcart, a Pulitzer, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, the Powerball Lottery! (Okay, I’ve wandered into fantasy land!)

Then I read Ron Hayes’ post, 2016: A Crossroads Year, Jennie Jarvis’ comment on it, and her post, 2016 is the Year of Positive Energy, and I felt like somebody smacked me upside the head. A reality check I desperately needed.

Like Ron, I’m at a pivotal point in my writing life. At my job, I write all day, and I enjoy what I do. I like the company and the people I work with. In the coming year, I’ll have a few opportunities that would require an increased commitment from me, in time and energy. I’ve never been one to play corporate politics, and at my age, I’m not about to start now. I’m never going to be a CEO, nor do I want to be. These are projects I want to take on. They interest me on a creative level, and in terms of personal growth and the growth of my colleagues. The downside, of course, is it would leave precious little time to pursue my own writing, and I’m not that prolific or disciplined to begin with! But if I’m going to continue to write fiction, discipline, organization, and time management are skills I need to adopt and hone—and take very seriously.

Like Jennie, I have to be realistic and adapt my goals to where my life is now. I think it all boils down to acceptance. Take a good look at yourself, your situation, what you have to do, what you want to do, and assess realistically what you can do. Accept that, and be true to your authentic self.

So this year, I’m going to chill. I’m going to make as much time to write as I can. I’m going to submit when I have a story I feel is ready to go out into the world. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to stop dreaming, thinking and planning. The difference is I’m choosing to be happy with where I am. Sometimes that’s what it takes to go places you never thought you would go.

So where will your writing take you this year? Have you defined concrete goals? Share what you expect your writing life to look like in 2016.

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