Ok. I’ve been thinking over the last few weeks about what I need to do in order to meet the goals that I have in life. I know. Deep stuff for the guy that usually has a brain with a pattern of, "SHINY! Badger! Bewbs! DICE DICE DICE!" But, a geek’s got to do what a geek’s got to do.
What made me get started on this train of thought? Well, frankly, "Ugly Betty". Yeah. You know. The sitcom that makes fun of soap operas with a publishing twist. Yep. The one with America Ferrera wearing the braces. Coleen and I watched the last season over the last few weeks, and I saw someone step into the position I’d like to be in. It was fiction, sure. It was a completely unrealistic path, certainly. But it made me think. Have I really thought about what I need to do to get where I want to go? First, I had to ask: Where DO I want to go? Being the admin for the contracting director for a government agency isn’t what I want. Nor is being the contracts specialist he’s promised to help me become. Especially when that promise has the backdrop of budget freezes and other such gobbledy-gook that comes with the current state of the economy. So, I put my thinker to work. Not the toilet – my actual brain. Usually, I’d say it only hurt a little, but when I realized how little focus I’ve had, it hurt a lot.
So here it is. My professional goals. Bullets and all…
1 – Be Published
2 – Become an Editor
3 – Help someone become published for the first time.
4 – Retire from publishing, and open a small, quiet book/game store.
5 – Die happy.
The first step in any of this, is to write. I haven’t written anything and submitted it for publishing in probably over a decade. To illustrate how ludicrous this is, let’s look at a few things. I have wanted to be a writer since I first read "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" in 3rd grade. As a teen, I wrote regularly, and often sent my writings to authors for comment or review. In my first attempt at college, I focused on English courses to such an extent that I managed to take four English classes in one school year. From the time I was about 16, until shortly after I got out of the military, I regularly wrote things for my own pleasure, and would submit the items I felt best about for consideration to be published. I even wrote several successful appeals for soldiers facing Article 15 disciplinary actions while I was in the Army. Over the last ten years, I’ve written tons of material for role-playing games I intended to run, fantasy worlds of my own design, thoughts on issues I thought were important, and more recently began writing papers for my second go at college.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here are the problems. I never thought to let my teachers and professors give me comments/input on those items I wrote when I was younger. I overloaded myself on English courses that first try through college, and didn’t talk to my department counselor enough. Over time, I’ve written less and less for pleasure. I let those rejection letters (or often, a lack of response) get to me, and I just stopped sending things in. Further, I surround myself with people who are like bonfires of creativity, yet until this last week, I never shared anything with any of them. Rather than finding a job in publishing, I’m in a job far removed from the publishing industry.
There it is. A brief, yet somewhat comprehensive, synopsis of the situation. I may not like it, but I see now how I can use it and learn from it. I’m going to take some steps in the right direction. Steps that I’ll be happy with. Steps that will send me down the road to a (hopefully very) eventual fifth bullet. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think I’ve got a good foundation.
To put a more positive spin on it, here are my assets. I have written a lot. Maybe not as much as some of my inspirations, but still quite a bit. I have two computers to write at home or on the go. I’m back in college and there are a LOT of things that I’m coming across that I had forgotten that I enjoyed thinking/talking/writing about. I’ve got access to English professors and tutors now. I’ve got more English courses to take for my degree, which will help me refine my form, boost my grammar back up to where it used to be, and help me release some creativity. I’ve found research tools and materials to help me develop better bases for my writing. I have friends that are filled with creativity who inspire me. I have a wife who is supportive, a good writer, and a comforting presence when I feel low.
What am I going to do with those assets? I’m going to write. I’m going to ask those I know to read that writing and give me honest feedback. Not nice feedback. Honest and genuine feedback. I’m going to send items in to publishers for consideration! I’m going to work hard in my English courses to ensure that I develop the skills I need to get what I want. I’m going to talk to an admissions counselor at a four year University to start planning my education a bit more than what I’ve done at this community college. I’m currently about half-way through my associates program with an overall goal of an MBA with an emphasis in English or Journalism. I’m going to start tweaking every work assignment I can into something for the future. I’m going to start seriously looking for a new job in the field that I want to work in. I have a blog that I’m going to use regularly to keep myself on track. I will not be a complacent acceptor any more.
Quick note of appreciation. Piers Anthony is a GREAT supporter of new writers. Every time I have written to him, not only did I receive a reply, but I received a reply that had some thought put into it. Margaret Weiss has been similarly supportive.