When I began writing seriously I wanted to have a couple of stories published. I attended local writers groups where women, rightly so, considered themselves to be authors because they had one poem or story published and had done nothing since. Some were still writing but others rested on their laurels. I was delighted that they were satisfied with that achievement, but I wanted more.
The first thing I wrote was a novel. Being my first try, it had serious maybe even fatal flaws, but I loved it. I gave a halfhearted attempt to sell it, but no one bit. It took me a couple of years to realize the problems couldn’t be fixed and that the first few novels were for practice anyway.
I knew one story or poem wouldn’t do it for me. But novels didn’t seem to be it either. I started cranking out short stories.
Now I find myself on the other side of the issue. Many of my new friends have three book contracts with noted publishers of cozy mysteries. Again, I am pleased for them. I remember the excitement they shared when that contract came through but I also remember how hard they had to work to meet deadlines, struggle with characters suggested by the publisher, and meet other demands (the ubiquitous cozy cat). I read the books with joy. I don’t mind writing to a deadline but I don’t want to have to write to contract. I want to work with those guys I mentioned above, the ones I love so much.
What I actually want is to do is write what I love, and go on doing it forever. But yes, I find I do set goals for myself, though often I am surprised that I have. Right now I want to get my short story collection published and get a story or two published in the better known markets.
The other side of any goal is motivation. You can’t achieve any goal unless you are motivated to do so. I am motivated to write, no question there. I am not so motivated to submit, and I am not at all motivated to sell my work once it is out there. I have to work hard at telling people I have a wonderful piece that they might enjoy. But that is the work no one does for you. So far most of my work has been in anthologies so I have had to do my fair share of publicity, but not the whole load. If (when) my collection is published, I am going to have to push it hard.
We are all real writers, the people who are satisfied with a single publication, those who feel they have made it with a three book contract, and those of us who write for the sheer joy of it, and don’t care how far it carries them. Goals may be important but writers are defined not by the goals they set but how they see themselves.
I’d love to hear from other writers about their goals and motivations.
If you aren’t a writer, I’d like to hear what you think of all this.