Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Mountain Range

         Well, the new year finds me at the precipice of a whole new phase in my writing.  In 2011, I published my first story and completed the second draft of “the YA novel I think is going to make it.”  But as I wrapped my holiday gifts, visited with family, and indulged in gingerbread, my sense of accomplishment morphed into a an unsettling realization.
From the top of the mountain on which I now stand, I can see the undulating topography of an entire mountain range before me.  I’ve never gotten so far with my writing before, but it is dawning on me there is a whole other level of climbing and journeying.  My manuscript is good, but is it Sara Zarr-good, Laurie Halse Anderson-good?  John Green-good?  How to get there?
         At an SCBWI conference, I once heard Sheldon Fogelman, leveling the side of his hand against his other open palm, say “In order to proceed, you have to have a plan!”  It’s always worked for me before, kept me from wandering aimlessly, and kept me growing as a writer.
         So here is my, albeit flexible, plan so far:

January & February
         Finalize pitch.   
              How does revised pitch inform revision goals?
         Draft Query Letter
         Crystalize business card design
         Study amazing Sara Zarr novel, How to Save a Life for
                  evolution of characters’ thought arcs across story
                  not overwriting
         Write two short stories
         Continue compiling a list of fifty agents 
              & research to hone list
         Look for the right workshop for manuscript
March – BIG MEETING with writing group: feedback on manuscript
         Organize feedback into Draft 3 & 4 goals
         Write 1, 2, and 5 page synopses
         Write Chapter Outline

April & May
         Draft 3

June & July
         Draft 4

         Start sending queries to agents!

         What do you think?  Any advice for the writer who doesn’t just want to be published, but wants to be GOOD?  Have you ever gotten to a new phase in your writing where you think, What am I going to do now?  It seems like an easy place to give up.  How did you go forward?  What are your writing goals for 2012?

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