I can’t believe it’s already December. The Little Guy’s already almost six months old (SIX MONTHS, WHAAAAAT?!), and I’m finally starting to feel like I’ve got a hang of this whole “mom” business… Well, at least a *little* bit. Everyday is a little different from the last, which is definitely teaching me to be flexible. That said, these 2-3 goals a week are really working out for me. Not only do they help me orchestrate what little free-time I have during the week, they are also concrete proof that I’ve gotten something worthwhile done.
The most successful goal I’ve had so far (which began in October, actually) is to submit one new story a month. Like any of my Wile E. Coyote plans for success, it’s got a couple of rules: 1) I need to either write or edit a new* story to submit for the first time by the end of any month, and 2) If I choose to edit a story instead of drafting it from scratch, I can do so, but I need to produce a rough draft story also (though that doesn’t have to be submittable at the end of the month).
#2 is really just a caveat to make sure that I produce new work rather than just fall back on older drafts that need polishing. I’ve come to realize that editing is where I need to get more practice, so I AM allowing myself to pick up older pieces (some MUCH older) and whip them into shape. In fact, the one I just got in for last month’s goal is a story I wrote almost three years ago, but only recently realized was actually pretty decent.
I apparently have a really long half-life on rough drafts, and that’s something I’ve struggled with from the very start. I rarely like what I’ve written when I finish it, and trying to edit a fresh-off-the-presses short story into something worth submitting usually ends up frustrating the hell out of me and producing a piece that isn’t much better (and sometimes worse) than the rough draft.** On a few occasions, I’ve been able to whip out a new, polished story in a month’s time, so that’s kind of what I’m hoping to do with this goal of a new story every month: get into the habit of writing and polishing a new story every month, or–at minimum–polishing a draft I wrote earlier to get that editing practice.
At some point, I’d love to reinstate the Chekhov plan, and for every week I have free in a month after I’ve submitted a new story, I’d write a rough draft, but we’ll see. The Little Guy’s still a bit too unpredictable for that right now, but maybe in several months? Could be a sustainable practice for producing a lot of editable drafts, while still honoring my natural tendency to let those drafts cool for weeks or months without hindering my ability to submit work regularly. We’ll see!
*”New” is somewhat debatable. See below for why.
***It’s only been recently that I’ve accepted the long lag-time between composing a story and editing it to a polish might be part of my natural process. It’s kind of like the rough drafts I write are seeds I’m planting in what I hope is rich soil. With time, some of those seeds begin to grow and sprout. Some don’t, and either lay dormant for years or are duds with no promise. The ones that grow after 3-12 months (or the dormant ones after 12-36 months or more), are the ones I can’t forget. I keep thinking about them, and eventually reach a point of being excited and refreshed enough to fix them.