It’s not often I recommend books on this site. But I’m going to recommend one now.
I picked up Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer a few weeks ago. It’s a book about being a writer, rather than a book about writing: writing I can do, but there have been any number of times over the years that being a writer has felt beyond me– too hard, too draining, I’ve not been emotionally capable of dealing with the demands, I’ve been too busy, Real Life ™ has been too much, etc etc and so forth.
It’s been a revelation. Clearly set out, quirkily individual, but steadily confronting all the issues I’ve encountered over the years and providing answers, and if not answers then at least strategies for finding my own, in simply digestible chunks, with exercises and anecdotal evidence to get you through.
They’ll be prising it out of my cold, dead fingers.
One of the first things Vandermeer advises is this: create a mission statement. Too many writers, he argues, think tactically, not strategically. Without a view of the entire battlefield, we lurch from minor victory to minor victory with no clear purpose, and no way to string these victories together to provide something meaningful over a length of time.
I am that soldier.
So, this is what I’ve done, and this is why I’ve been so silent on the bloggerywebtitude front. Because, after a year of editing magazines, and judging competitions, and associated frippery, when it comes down to it, my aim, my mission statement, is this:
I want to be a full time professional author of novels and short stories, and to continue to advance my career as a teacher of writing.
A mission statement not only defines what it is you want to achieve: it helps define those tasks that don’t fit in with your aims. It helps you learn what to turn down. If it doesn’t fit the mission statement, why are you doing it?
So: this last month?
I’ve line edited Corpse-Rat King. I’ve submitted the online writing course I’ve been developing for the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. I’ve finished a new short story.
Next month: Corpse-Rat King to Angry Robot before their open submission period ends. A new short story. Take up Father Muerte & The Divine and finish it.
I’m a man on a mission.