Years ago, when I was in the throes of hands-on parenting, my nightstand was piled high with parenting books.
One of those books was GOOD FAMILIES DON'T JUST HAPPEN.
As I recall, the author was the mother of TEN SONS (and no daughters) and her book described the intentionality with which she and her husband approached child-rearing and what made their family work.
Putting aside the astonishing amount of testosterone in that household, the central point of the book is a good one (an aside for writers: note how perfectly the title communicates the point of the book!).
Good families don't just happen. They require intentionality, commitment, consistency, support, and a plan—and the ability to pivot when the plan isn't working.
Those 80%+ of Americans who say they want to write a book "some day"—most of them, I reckon, would like that book writing to come easy, to just happen.
But things we care about don't just happen.
As I've been putting the finishing touches on GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES, my coming-out later-in-life memoir, and preparing to send it off to my publisher, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it took to get me from the moment five years ago when I knew I had to write this story to the moment I find myself in this day: reading aloud the entire manuscript for last minute typos and inconsistencies.
I had a big writing goal for 2022: to have a publishing contract in hand for GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES by the end of the year.
Within my control:
I could block out time to:
I could hire a book coach to help me with the above & set a timetable for pitching and a timeline for deciding whether to move from pitching agents and smaller presses to hybrid presses.
Outside of my control:
When or whether agents or smaller presses would respond to my queries, let alone say yes.
Real talk: It is SOOOO easy to let the things that are out of your control in your publishing journey derail you. Like silence or form rejections from agents.
I had to make choices to reach my goal. Planning, writing, revising (many times!), and pitching my memoir required me to say no to many things to make space for writing.
I blocked out Monday and Saturday mornings for writing time and squeezed in some writing sessions on other days when I could. My book coach and I set deadlines for my pages—and I kept to those deadlines (most of the time!).
I paid my book coach to:
I made a publication plan: I decided that if I hadn’t gotten any traction with agents or smaller presses by early June, that I would pivot and begin pitching hybrid presses. Since I knew of several hybrids I would have been happy to work with, I felt confident that I’d achieve my goal and have a contract in hand by the end of 2022.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait until June to get traction. The University of Wisconsin Press responded positively to my query in March and seven months later, on Coming Out Day (!), I signed a contract with them to publish GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES in Fall 2023.
A big f**ing goal I am proud to have accomplished!
To launch and market the hell out of my book. To get my story into the hands of LGBTQ+ and midlife readers who need to believe there is hope and light on the other side of a big and scary life change.
And maybe I’ll even start my next book. The idea is already brewing inside me, another story that needs to be told.
What are your writing goals for 2023?
What will investing in your story—and yourself—look like for you in 2023?
If you’re a queer writer, check out WRITE YOURSELF OUT, the community I’m launching in 2023 for LGBTQ+ writers. I’d love to help you set and accomplish your 2023 writing goals!