The business-of-writing group (Angie, Pauline, Rhea, me and occasionally Kim) meet when we can to crow about accomplishments, commit to future work, swap ideas and generally cheer and encourage each other. We do lunch. We’ve occasionally done breakfast, brunch or just coffee, but there must be chocolate.
This may sound frivolous but this group is essential for us. We have differing experience, talents, ways of thinking, levels of commitment to other things in our lives. That mix means that we each come away from every meeting refreshed and with new ideas about how to develop the business side of our work.
Yesterday’s meeting was devoted to bragging and resolutions. We’ve all made strides in the last year; started new projects, learned new things, cracked new markets. We all have things we want to do this year. Stating your goals publicly is a huge step to getting them realized. It’s harder to say, “you know, I don’t think I want to finish this novel after all” when you’ve said to a group of fellow writers that you’re going to do it.
We help keep each other realistic. I tend to overestimate the amount I can do. I’ve just taken on almost sixty hours of work and commuting a week; learning to work with that more limited time hasn’t been as quick and easy as I thought it would be. (Translation: I’m not adapting as quickly as I think I should.) When I announced as one of my goals “keeping up the non-fiction writing”, Angie called me on it.
“What do you mean?” she said. “You have a full-time job now – you can’t work on the non-fiction like you did last year. What non-fiction are you going to keep up?” She made me give a more specific non-fiction goal, one I can actually meet.
In complete contrast, we also help each other dream big. Rhea wants to take a trip to the South Seas to research her screenplay. Financially it’s beyond her means, but brainstorming with the group brought up an idea that might earn her the money to do it. Pauline, currently editing a local magazine, wants to spend half her year in Mexico, where her daughter lives. She wants writing work that she can do anywhere. Yesterday’s meeting came up with the seeds of several portable business ideas.
So here are my resolutions for 2012:
Finish The Swan Harp and start another novel
Plan a humour collection to pitch to a publisher
Apply for every grant for which I’m eligible – Canada Council, Northern Arts, Works in Progress, Writers’ Reserve
In non-fiction, maintain my writing for my repeat clients. I won’t seek out new ones, but if new ones come looking for me, I’ll consider taking them on
Get more work for the Writer’s Dominatrix
Complete the edits on Shepherd in Residence
Complete my archive
Do work for my repeat clients as necessary
That should keep me going for a while. In the meantime, time to head off to work.