Focusing on What I Can Control

Every year, at this time of the year, I sit down and examine my journey into the publishing industry. I look at the little goals that I had set for myself and how I progressed towards those goal. When I do this, it’s about reminding myself of what I have achieved, and not focusing on what I haven’t achieved.

It’s about celebrating the little wins, and sometimes, it’s about reminding myself of the things that are out of my control.

There are external factors involved at every step along my personal publication journey. I’m getting better at identifying what those external factors are and shaping my goals, so that when I do these annual reviews, I’m able to be proud of my accomplishments.

Last year, I had set six objectives. One, in particular, was fully out of my control, 100% reliant on others. The other five... Well, I need to learn to get a little bit more specific in my goal setting

Elements Out of My Control

In my year-in-review post from late 2018, I had set the goal to have at least one short story published by the end of 2019. Sad to say, this did not happen.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, of that I can assure you. I repeatedly submitted my short stories to multiple locations, but every rejection was tarnished with this your-story-doesn’t-have-the-happy-ending-that-we-want brush. And when the rejections get an added line that state that the editors loved the world and the story, but they can’t publish it... (One rejection stated that they would love to read a full novel based on the world in the short story—never mind that they don’t publish novels.)

What is a girl to do?

It is frustrating, because I write the stories that come to me as they come to me. I’m not bitter about it, but I am despondent. There is nothing that I can do to make another person like my story enough that they want to publish it. The only thing I can do is keep writing and keep trying.

This was the message that came through loud and clear when I was at the 2019 RWNZ conference. There is so much about this business that is out of our hands. The only thing we can truly control is the writing. It’s up to us to write more and keep writing.

So that’s what I’m doing.

This year, I’m shifting my annual goals to focus on what I can control. For the objectives that are heavily reliant on external factors, I’m concentrating on the components that I can influence.

My Achievements from 2019

In 2019, I pushed myself and my craft to the next level.

I finished my crime thriller novel Pen Name. The comments from the beta readers has me grinning from ear to ear, and my personal developmental editor (yes, I worked with a developmental editor to help me polish my own story even though I’m a developmental editor myself) says that it's one of the few manuscripts that he's seen that has had him sitting on the edge of his seat the whole way through.

I pitched to an agent in person. I had gotten a request for a full, but nothing came of it—and I'm okay with that. The fact that I was able to pitch in person is a big deal for me. (It's not something that a New Zealander can do all that often.)

I also experimented a little with my writing. After a conversation that I was having with a few writing buddies about point of view and narrative voice, I decided to give second person a go. I wanted to know if I could do it. Would it even work? So, I wrote a short story using the second-person narrative voice, and I was blown away. Not only was it so easy to work with that voice, but the story took twists and turns that I never expected. And the story actually worked.

No, I’m not posting the story on this blog... not yet anyway. The short story is currently on submission to various literary magazines, the same with my other short stories. I will post them here in due course, but it might not be for a few years yet.

And my latest achievement, I learned more about my personal writing process. I need the barf draft that is literally barf on paper—ideas and plot points on paper, the odd scene written in full here and there, but it is nowhere near a state to share with others. It's my plotting phase, and I need to embrace it.


And during November 2019, during NaNoWriMo, I successfully completed another barf draft for a brand new crime novel. Now to go and write the full first draft.

My Goals for 2020

By the end of 2020, I aim to have another manuscript written and edited, and in the hands of beta readers or similar. I do need to emphasize that it’s for a full-length, fiction novel. I have written and edited short stories in a matter of a few weeks, and I wrote and edited (and published) Hidden Traps in six months. However, I have yet to write and edit a 90k-word fiction novel in less than a year from start to finish.

Since I started a new manuscript (barf draft) for November, I am giving myself until the end of October to write and edit this new novel, allowing me to start another new novel come next November. I can do this. (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.)

From the editing business side, during 2020, I intend to refine a few of the tools that I use for editing and share the concepts (and templates) with the greater writing community. This will include updating handouts and downloadable materials that already exist on Black Wolf Editorial Services. The trick with this will be to put a time limit on how long I give myself to update the materials. My perfectionist nature could easily suck away the precious time that I could be using for client editing and working on my stories.

I want to run some workshops within my local community and online, but I need to investigate my options. It’s time to look into ways in which I can share my working knowledge with other writers in a cost-affordable way. Keep an eye on the feeds for Black Wolf Editorial Services for progress on this front.

When it comes to internet security and social media, it is still on the cards to revamp Hidden Traps to reflect recent changes in various platforms, and to create platform-specific books for the core social media sites. It is has become a personal life mission to help others stay safe on the internet, including young teenagers who are just discovering this new world. As someone recently pointed out to me, I might be an expert in the field, but like everyone else, I’m just as susceptible to the Hidden Traps of the internet world. However, when I find the dangers, I spread the word, so others don’t fall prey.

There are a number of external factors that influence the development of the Hidden Traps series, including the ever-changing platforms for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress. It will happen, I just don’t know when.

Saying that, I will continue to write posts for the "We Let Them In" blog series on this blog, putting on my bad-guy hat and highlighting some of the dangers associated with the internet and social media that stem from our personal interactions and habits. I will also continue to write posts for the "Hidden Traps" blog series on the Black Wolf Editor’s Blog, alerting writers and other online personalities to internet platform issues that can work against us.

Meanwhile, I will continue to submit my personal writing to agents and publishers. I will continue to work with editorial clients to polish their own manuscripts, so they too can achieve their personal goals. And I will continue to learn about my craft and about the internet world around us.

It’s a long road ahead, but I do believe that I’m now on a five-year plan, where the goals are likely to repeat themselves from year to year, but the projects will evolve.

So, what were some of your achievements for 2019? And what are your goals for 2020?

Copyright © 2019 Judy L Mohr. All rights reserved.

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