Thursday, March 8, 2012

Goals

First off, another big thank you to Stefan at Far Beyond Reality for hosting an omnibus give away! I have the winner's book right here beside my chair, all wrapped up and ready to go. Congratulations again, and don't forget you can still enter Fantasy Book Critic's omnibus giveaway if you haven't won one yet!

Back when I was in high school, my guidance councilor had us do one of those exercises where you write down all your goals for the future and when you want to achieve them. It was supposed to encourage us to make something of ourselves, but most people just goofed off (I recall a great deal of my senior class wanting to be doom lords and world conquerors). But I took the exercise seriously and wrote out this huge and ridiculously detailed road map for the rest of my life, which for some reason ended at 30 (hey, I was 17 at the time, I don't think I believed there was life after 30).

I still have this list. I'm not quite sure why I kept it, it was just one of those things that gets put in a box over and over, and every time you clean you think about throwing it away, but you never do, and then suddenly enough years have passed where it's become this relic from your childhood, so you take really good care of it, etc. etc. Looking back over the list now, I was a pretty ambitious kid. I mean, 2 PhDs by 25? I didn't even write down what they were PhDs for, just PhDs.

So yeah, the ambitions of youth. But the big thing? My huge, end of life goal for the immeasurably distant future of 30? Make a living as a professional fantasy author.

Done.

Today is my 30th birthday. Really, I made my goal three years ago, but it's as true now as it was then, though it still doesn't quite feel real. Even three years on, I get the violent urge to giggle in disbelief every time I realize "Holy shit, I am paying my mortgage with sword fights." But I do. I made it. Life goal, crossed off!

Now, as I enter the uncharted, "Here Be Monsters" part of my life, my biggest concern isn't knowing where I'm going, but what my new goal is. I sold my book, I've published one series and sold another, and I make a living as an author full time. That's pretty much everything on the list. So, now what? What comes after you "make it?"

Oh sure, there are plenty of big, shiny goals after your book hits the shelves: making a national list, becoming a #1 NYT Bestseller, seeing one of my books get made into a movie, winning a Nebula or a Hugo, but all of these are determined by other people. If all it took was hard work and a great idea to become a huge bestseller, then we'd have a lot more of them. I don't want to tie my big new goal to things I can't control, where success or failure has as much to do with luck as effort and talent. So, instead, I've picked something I can control, a milestone no less lofty but completely my own, and it goes like this:

Write 150 books by the time I turn 60.

That's 5 books a year for 30 years. Of course, I get to subtract 8 from that for the books I've already written, but still, 150 books! That's multiple bookshelves of my own work (assuming they're still putting books on shelves in 2042). Is it a ridiculous goal? Of course! But no less crazy or unlikely than getting a book published in the first place. Less, because this goal depends entirely on me. It'll be a lot of work, but I think I can make it. I'm already on track to write six books this year, maybe 7 if I don't get hung up. And if I make it to 60, I'll reevaluate. Maybe I'll set another goal, 300 books by 90!

I've spent most of my thinking life running toward the goal of being an author. I might have made it, but the race isn't over. It can never be over. We always have to have something to run toward, or we stop running. I for one mean to run this thing as hard, as fast, and as well as I can. And that, I think, is a very worthy goal indeed. 

7 comments:

Mihir said...

Wish you a very happy birthday Ms. Rachel & also a happy Women's day. Hope you meet all the goals you have planned for :)

Marie Andreas said...

Happy Birthday! Ummm- can I make my goal to be you when I grow up? (Ignoring the fact that I'm older? ;))

I agree with the importance of goals being in our control. I have the power to keep writing as best I can, I can't control if an agent or editor likes my books. So I'll just keep writing more until one of them scream Uncle!

Thanks for a great post and have a great birthday!

Amalie said...

Happy Birthday!

You know, you can kind of influence that book --> movie thing, maybe, if you took the leap and wrote a script :) Very similar skills and talents needed for both, good storytelling is good storytelling.

Congratulations and best wishes for more!

unsocialized homeschooler said...

Happy late Birthday! :)
I love the goal of writing 150 books! I think I'm going to try to write 150 books in...uh... however long it takes, I guess...
I love your posts and am waiting to get your books from the library! :D

Tirzah Duncan said...

Thank you for your inspiration-- this is a goal I've had since I was 17, actually! ...The "full-time author" one, not the "150 books" one. Maybe I'll consider that one when I'm 30. :)

I set the goal over a year ago now, and I have a very small start-- a long short story to be published in an indie anthology, a novel nearly polished to querying readiness, a blog with an itsy-bitsy following.

It's encouraging to remember that, with time and writing, I can truly get from this practically inconsequential Here to glorious There.

And that There is as giggly and giddy a place as I'd always suspected. X)

Happy Birthday, and write on!

Casey L. Conley said...

Happy birthday! That is a great goal!:) I look forward to reading, hopefully there will be a non-fiction about your writing style it the mix! I love reading your logs about tips and tricks!!

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