I’ve seen and read various writers admit to various goals they have for their writing careers, but most of them seem to be of the win-Booker or become-New-York-Times-bestselling-author type, which I don’t think you can realistically aim for. Sure you can hope, but what can you do to make those dreams come true? Other than write the best books you can, which don’t guarantee a bloody thing.
My goals are a tad more possible. For example, I aim to publish a book in every one of these categories:
Crime (what some call mysteries)
Thriller (the John Grisham, Tom Clancy etc etc genre1)
Comedy (do you call ’em comedies if they’re books?)
Mainstream (you know, Literature: professor has affair with much younger student in the midst of mid-life crisis)
I chose the categories cause those are all the ones I’ve actually read and think I have a bit of a shot at writing and publishing. Though Thriller and Mainstream will prolly be my biggest stretch. I just don’t seem to get many ideas for books without magic or werewolves or bloodshed or fairies. It was my goal to write in all of these categories long before I ever sold a book. In fact I’ve written romantic, science fictonal, horrific and funny short stories. Very few of them published, though. (Short stories are not my thing.)
As you can see, I’ve got a wee bit of a ways to go. I’ve written an historical but until it’s published it doesn’t count. Why am I not counting the unpublished ones? Cause I’m talking about my career and unpublished manuscripts no matter how fine are not a visible part of my writing career.
Some would say that for those writing for the grown ups publishing in so many different categories is career suicide. “Build your audience! Don’t abandon them or expect them to follow you!” But I don’t write for adults so I can publish in every one of those categories and still have my books shelved in the same place in a bookshop. Ah, the many wonders of writing YA!
The other beautiful thing about my goal is that I can knock over several birds with one stone. For example, I reckon the great Australian monkey-knife fighting feminist cricket mangosteen fairy novel is a romance as well as a comic science fiction novel. Bam! Three categories crossed off for the one novel. Excellent, eh?
It’d also be fun if I managed all of these:
Third person limited
I’ve crossed off first and third limited as I used ’em both in the Magic or Madness trilogy. I guess technically I didn’t write a whole novel in either, but I’m the one who decides what counts . . .
The idea of writing a series is a little bit scary. I’d like to write one where every book is self-contained but the characters and world are shared. I suspect that the great Australian monkey-knife fighting feminist cricket mangosteen fairy novel might be the first of a series. But what if I run out of ideas after two or three books but more are wanted? Many more? Worse—what if I’d actually sold more . . .
I’ve written (but not published) two standalones so the prospect scares me not at all.
Some might have noticed that “short story collection” is not on my list. That’s because I’m more likely to win the Booker than I am to get a short story collection published. I need my goals to be realistic!
Writing across all those different genres, experimenting with person and form will not only be good for me—it’s learning and improving, innit?—it’ll also keep me from being bored out of my skull.
What are your writing or publishing goals?
- I’m using “genre” and “category” interchangably cause now that I’m no longer an academic—I can. [↩]