No plan survives first contact

Otherwise known as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, or variations of that cliche. No matter what we plan, or intend, quite often things don’t work out that way. Life twists and turns in mysterious ways and nothing ever turns out as expected. I think I might have said that in a recent post, about how a year ago I would never guess I’d be sitting here. I think 2017 could be termed “the year of the unexpected” because basically since this time last year, nothing has been the same.

This time last year I was in a self-loathing pit because I’d had my first ever review on my published book. Admittedly it was pretty mean and dramatically written but reviews like that are par for the course. I thought I was prepared to deal with it and I wasn’t. So I couldn’t face continuing with Book Three, it knocked me for six, and I decided to work on something else until I stopped feeling like an abject failure.

My ‘plan‘ was to pick up Book Three in December, and I was still aiming to publish March/April at the latest. Well some life stuff happened, I could go into details but I don’t really like to do that on the internet (even though this is password protected) and besides it feels a little like I’m making excuses. Basically in many ways I checked out of life and didn’t really get my footing back until the summer, when I suddenly got the idea to change my life completely and go back to university.

Anyway, this post isn’t about what did happen – it’s about what didn’t happen.

I had plans and they didn’t work out, and a big chunk of me is still despairing at that because I feel like a failure, the rest of me is determined to try and do better now. I can’t change what happened, I can’t get back the previous year and all that lost time, all I can do is try and be better moving forward. In other words it’s time for a new plan.

This applies not just to the novels which mean so much to me but also to my art plans, which I know I’ve been suspiciously silent about, and my other plans for some long-term freelance projects. I feel like I’m vibrating in place, like time is slipping through my fingers like water and I should have done so much more than I have. Then I try and remind myself it’s barely halfway through the first semester and it’s a huge change and I’m doing my best.

That doesn’t really help because the little voice in my head says “halfway through a semester and you only have eight of them” and in those terms it feels like I’ll be graduating tomorrow and I’m not ready! I know that’s ridiculous but it’s this kind of fear and anxiety which I live with everyday. That I’m not doing enough. Anyway, I’m rambling now and I should be talking about my plans and not my fears.

This is in the NaNoWriMo category!

Yes, this post is supposed to be about next month, or rather next week as November 1st is only a week away. What am I writing? What are my goals?

Book Three! Hence why I went on about it and about where it started and where I stand now. I have about 1/3rd of it already written. My goal is to finish it during November, then I can revise it and have it ready to go to an editor by the end of January. The plan is to publish it in March, or April at the latest, which might sound familiar? Yup, it’s a year late.

I have nearly 26k written and my first drafts tend to come out short so I might not make the 50k with it. Typing ‘the end’ is far more important but I have other projects which can make up the difference. I mean if I’m honest in the back of my head I’d like to attempt 100k again. Life derailed me last year, giving me an 86k total (my highest yet), and I really want to crack triple figures. Truthfully I’m so out of practice with the writing I don’t know if I’ll manage 50k so we’ll see. Maybe the magic of the season will kick in, who knows.

So what about long-term plans?

I have covers for Book Four, Five and Six. I also have covers for Books One-Three of a different series, so I have a lot of things on the slate, and more than enough ideas to replace them three times over. I would like to publish 3x a year, so I want to write and publish Books Four and Five next year as well. See if I can redeem myself after this year out and get back on track.

Chris Fox with his ‘lifelong writing habit’ did a section on Target Identity. In four years I’ll graduate and I know where I want to be then. It’s just up to me now to make it happen.

So it’s not just all about the novels, it is also about the drawing. I have been silent on that because I haven’t done any. However, I have joined the comic book society and I will be contributing a comic. So I have to draw something, and it will be published for the whole world to see. That’s happening.

That’s why I like NaNo because without deadlines, ‘one day’ never comes around. I said I wanted to do more drawing, and I even put it on the calendar, but without a specific project I made excuses about being tired or sick. Now I have something I have to do – no more excuses.

I screwed up this year and now I need to fix it. I’m looking forward to finishing book three because I can then draw a line and have a new starting point. I don’t intend to screw up again, but as we’ve already established – no plan survives first contact.