Monday, January 7, 2013

To New Adventures

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne



Happy New Year from all of us at TKZ

2013 has already ushered in a new adventure for me and my family with us moving to Denver. My twin boys start at their new school today and so there is a palpable sense of nervous tension, excitement, fear and uncertainty in the air - all signals that we are embarking on an adventure indeed. In honor of this, I have also started reading The Hobbit aloud to them - but I have assured them that, as far as I know, they won't be encountering any trolls, goblins or dragons here in Colorado.

This year I have decided to focus my new year's resolutions on some of the aspects of my career that I fear were sidelined during my time in Australia. Being so far away from the principal market for my books as well as my agent meant was not necessarily a good thing as I missed out on valuable face-time at conferences and book related events. It was hard to justify the expense of flying over just to meet with my agent or to attend a writing conference and so I focused solely on my writing - which was not a bad thing - but I fear I did so at the expense of 'driving' that writing forward into the marketplace. 

It means that I face 2013 feeling like I don't have very much to show for all my efforts - even though I know it is more a question of timing and patience than it is anything else. But it truly is time that I stopped being reactive and became the driver of my own career. In concentrating on my writing (and completing three manuscripts could hardly be considered slacking off!) I didn't keep up the other aspects critical to keeping my career on track - I made bugger all changes to my website, did little or no marketing or publicity, and apart from  TKZ blog I didn't keep up with guest posts or my own Edwardian-era focused blog. Mea Culpa indeed.

My goals for 2013 are pretty intimidating - not in terms of time or commitment but in terms of changing my mindset to make sure I regain a better sense of control over my career and come out of my hermit hole to promote myself rather than focusing solely on my writing to the detriment of everything else. In this ever changing marketplace I cannot afford to remain at shut-off from everything but the manuscript in front of me (and now, I don't have the literal 'tyranny of distance' as an excuse, either). 

But here's the thing - I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to achieve this change of mindset or  how to overcome the self-doubt that a few years of what feels like self-imposed exile has brought. So I'm seeking advice from you all. What goals have you set yourself and your writing career this year? I'm hoping I'm not alone in wrestling with all the challenges a new year and a new adventure can bring. So how are you going to overcome obstacles and achieve all that you want to accomplish this year?

15 comments:

  1. You surely have a lot to balance in life right now but sounds like your priorities are spot-on. I always remember a bit of advice I read one time: there are good things in life to choose, better things, and then there are the best things. Choose the best.

    Welcome to Colorado. We live in a gorgeous state.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Julie - we have certainly loved Denver so far (despite the cold). Christmas was magical for the boys as they had never had a white Christmas before!

      Delete
  2. Welcome back, Clare, to the blog and to the states. Denver's a great city. You're just in time for Broncos fever, too. No more cricket, rugby or Marngrook for you!

    It's good for every writer to "re-engineer" from time to time. I did this about three years ago. I looked ahead 10 years and decided to make them the most productive of my life. First thing I did was set a new yearly writing quota, up from what I was doing, and broke that down into a weekly average. I agree with Robert B. Parker that the most important thing a writer does is produce. So I made that number one, and have hit it for the last three years.

    This idea may not be your number one. But that should be your start, to figure out that one thing (why do I keep thinking of Jack Palance in City Slickers?)

    When you've decided the top objective, then you can plan around that--figure out how to get it done, and set up a system to do it (the "two boys and husband" factor is a wild card that you must anticipate being played frequently).

    I just keep thinking of the word "steady." The waters may churn and the kayak may overturn from time to time, but you right yourself and write, yourself. Steady progress.

    Can't wait to hear about your writing and new American adventures throughout the coming year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great advice Jim - steady as she goes!

      Delete
  3. Welcome back, Clare. You picked a beautiful area of the country in which to live. Enjoy. After reading your post, I must say, I’m jealous. What you might see as falling behind in other aspects of your career, I see as a huge advantage. To be able to focus almost exclusively on your writing without the distractions of marketing, promoting and platform building would be a blessing. It’s easy to lose sight of goal # 1: writing the best story possible. The other aspects of a writer’s life will come to you as you get settled in and move forward. But the story comes first. You’ve enjoyed a period of concentration that I and I know others, envy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Joe - that is very reassuring and I did make a conscious decision that given the distances I should focus on the writing - which has been great but now it's time to take it up a notch and add all the other things into the mix - without ever losing sight of writing the best story possible! Happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Clare,
    My goal is just to renew my focus on the writing in general. That means keeping up with the gaming articles better (in an effort to build a small following there), keeping up with my own blog more consistently (it's a disaster with a two-year hiatus in tow).
    And of course, I just need to write and submit until I get that first yes. My way of doing so is to devote a minimum of 1 hour (with headphones) on either an article, research, or my blog, and at least 1 hour on a writing project. If I can fit that in with grading for school, I should be able to get there eventually. I've got my wife on board, so now I just have to do it.

    No idea if that will help, but good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck Jake - it's such a challenge fitting it all in isn't it! I just got final line edits back from my agent so at least I have a short term goal to get these done and then I can start on my new project and get everything else back on board as well!

      Delete
  6. Clare, I share your concerns about regaining momentum. One thing that helps me refocus is to pretend I've never been published before, and go back to absolute basics--concentrating on getting a small amount of new writing done each day. I figure I can address the other aspects of writing--networking, outreach, etc., at the appropriate time for a particular project. My main challenge these days is keeping up the momentum of the writing itself. Like you, I've had a tumultuous past year (for example, we spent most of November and December on the road traveling), and any momentum I'd built up before that went straight to hell. I'm especially grateful in 2013 to have my Kill Zone "tribe" to connect with on a regular basis, for inspiration and support.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too am grateful for everyone's support! Here's to regaining momentum:)

      Delete
  7. I'd suggest joining some local writing groups to regain your sense of enthusiasm. Denver has some good groups and conferences. Going to a meeting can recharge your batteries. Plus no one understands you better than another writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy, I definitely plan on doing this. One thing I failed to do in Australia was reach out and join the writing community. Won't make that same mistake again!

      Delete
  8. Wow, so many changes for Clare. Life sure is a whirlwind sometimes. But to get that second wind and jump back in the race can really get things moving in a positive direction.

    My challenge this year is to finish my next book, and meet a goal of recording 20 audiobooks this year. It is doable, but will require focus and focus is sometimes my weak area as I often get easily distra ... oooh ... shiny thing!

    One thing I am not doing this year is making a movie with a bunch of kids. As fun as that was last year, that was a whole lot more work than I anticipated.

    If you'd like to see the product of last year's goals check it out here with my 42 minute remake of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" packed full of special effects and kid actors that actually did a fairly decent job. Might be fun to watch with your kids.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Life certainly is a whirlwind at the moment but I think my task is so much easier than my kids who have just started at a brand new school half way through the school year and in the grade above where they were in Australia. Needless to say they are exhausted! I feel humbled by how positive and resilient they have been.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If you are interested in writing groups in Denver, here are a few I'd recommend:

    Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (www.rmfw.org/) They hold events throughout the year and an annual conference.

    Lighthouse Writers (www.lighthousewriters.org/) They are mainly geared toward teaching writers, but they do hold events periodically.

    Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (http://www.rmmwa.org/) I'm not a member yet (I don't qualify :-( ) Their events are geared toward practical aspects of writing mysteries, such as firearms, forensics, etc.

    ReplyDelete