At the end of 2017, before I published Kingdom Come, I made a list detailing how I would promote my first novel. The most exciting entry was a promise I would make to the reading community. I would offer new content each month to anyone who would visit my blog. I always knew the content would mostly consist of short stories, various prequels I had written while revising my novel, but I also planned to display some original artwork from Daniel, the artist of Kingdom Come. Naive dude that I am, I had this vision that people would come back each month as I posted the new story or illustration and would wait in anticipation for my next entry.
It didn’t happen quite that way.
After I uploaded my December offering, I looked back and realized that, while the throngs of people eagerly holding their breath didn’t happen, I gained something else equally important. I started the year with six stories and plans for three illustrations. I ended the year with eight stories (one in two parts) and three illustrations. In other words, I didn’t have enough content to cover the year when I started and I was worried I would fail to dream up new stories, or (worse) publish substandard submissions. I’m proud of the stories I wrote this year which were The Dwarf’s Report, Do Not Save the Princess, and The Witch, the Flower, and The Golden Goose. Their ideas, their quality, and how they contribute to Kingdom are as important as the rest of the stories.
The second hurdle was finishing a short story each month. I also decided to finish a huge project at the same time, and I was determined to complete it in 2018. In my priority list, I ranked that second than my monthly short stories because of my public promise though I knew no one was holding me to it. I struggled because my heart belonged to my big project, but my brain knew I had made this promise. I was overcommitted. I managed to make monthly goals and get in the stories while I worked on the project at the same time. As it turns out, the big project hit a significant milestone at Thanksgiving, so I was more relaxed working on the last month’s story.
While patting myself on the back here, the other lesson I learned was the best goals are those we achieve together. This wasn’t only my effort. Daniel Johnson provided illustrations of my novel, allowing me a much-needed break at various points. And Lauren Nalepa and Dan both illustrated front covers for the stories, giving the tales the needed zing required to entice readers. My goal wasn’t achieved strictly through my own toil, I had help, and I cannot express my appreciation enough to my two artists.
I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in 2018 with this blog and these stories. When I recently met with my friend Dan, he pointed out that my short stories, when combined, are the length of a novel. Essentially, I wrote and revised an unplanned novel in 2018. How cool!
I’ve always worried about what would happen if an agent or publisher did reach out and set a deadline for me to give them my work. Would I be able to handle it? This 2018 promise has given me the confidence I can make deadlines. If the due date is reasonable and I prioritize my time correctly, I can set small goals (i.e. one story per month) to reach major milestones (i.e. an entire novel).
I certainly didn’t achieve all my writing goals in 2018. I wanted to make significant progress on another novel in 2018. Yeah, I didn’t come close to that one. But I learned from that goal as well. I made progress toward it which is important, and I’m not discouraged. It becomes a 2019 goal. Do not let your lack of progress discourage you. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. Journey on, and when you reach your goal, you’ll see the work, not the accomplishment itself, is as important as reaching the end.
If you are reading this and have read any of my stories, thank you for making the effort. Know that, without a reader, an author’s work goes unnoticed. My goal is always to entertain and make it worth your time to read my work. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as well.
And maybe the stories won’t stop…