On Monday I wrote about my tools to battle back the world pressing in and battling the demons of doubt and despair. Part of the reason I'm so tough on myself right now is I have set the bar very high this year. And another large part of the reason I am driving myself so hard is I've redirected the focus of my writing energy.
This is the first year I have taken a sabbatical from entering contests. I love contests. They give me deadlines. They validate me as a writer. They provide useful feedback. Last year I was a Triple Finalist and winner of the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. I've experience lots of high moments with other contests as well. I love contests so much I decided to help my Southern Magic Romance Writers out by coordinating the Linda Howard Award of Excellence this year.
So why have I sworn off contests? Easy answer: they focus my energy only on the first three chapters of the book and, in some cases, the synopsis. And I have a different goal this year. I want to polish and hone three full manuscripts to the best of my abilities at this point.
I want to take what I've learned during the last two years and implement that knowledge. I want to revise my full manuscripts with my new writing eyes. Eyes that see things differently. Eyes that understand what is expected of the manuscript's promise. And eyes that are HONEST about the quality of the writing.
I also want to take two monthlong online courses that will require me to expend my energy in learning more about the business side of the publication industry and more about the craft of writing a complex novel.
My critique partner says I'm harder on myself than anyone else. She's right. I wouldn't be where I am as a writer and as a person if I didn't push myself to succeed. But I also strive to have a balanced life. A life that includes hanging out with people who aren't writers, spending time with the Physicist on the Veranda, and building my relationship with the College Kid as she transitions from home to the world.
So if I want that balance and I want to achieve all of my goals, I must say no to something that isn't necessary to my life as a writer. And as much as I crave the validation of a contest final, I know in my heart that my time is better spent shaping my novels into amazing stories and generating new stories and building strong bonds with my family.
Have your personal and professional goals changed? Why?