I’m making slow but steady progress on the three manuscripts I’m currently juggling as we finish up the first month of 2021 (and as I officially enter my 34th year — my birthday was yesterday, February 2). The Tide and the Stars, Return to Nalgordia, and Runner’s Warning are all tapping into different parts of my creative brain. Honestly, I’m loving the process.
I finished my first draft of The Tide and the Stars way back at the end of 2019. Although I had a goal of revising it throughout 2020, my progress was a lot slower than it should have been. The state of the world had me distracted. I just didn’t feel as motivated when I was dealing with so many other emotions brought on by a pandemic and all the other horrors 2020 delivered to us.
But the truth is that writing…well, helps me escape reality. And when I was able to get myself lost in the process of working on a manuscript, it brought me greatly needed relief.
Around early summer, I started kicking around the idea for a sequel to my debut novel, The Purple Bird, which came out back in 2019 and was overdue for a follow-up of some sort. People had been asking me ever since it was released, “Are you going to write a sequel?”
Of course, my answer was always no. I had no plans to write a sequel — Archit’s story was complete, and I wanted The Purple Bird to be a standalone novel.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how unlikely it was that Archit and the Shannassy kids would never again find themselves caught up in an adventure. And I started thinking, “Well, what would happen after the happy ending? What disruption would come into their post-adventure lives?”
Thus, the idea for Return to Nalgordia was born, and I spent the latter half of 2020 trying to figure out where I wanted the story to go. I’ve started writing the first few chapters — it feels really good to be visiting these characters and this world again.
Finally, there’s Runner’s Warning. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what a profound influence running has had on my life, particularly in the past couple of years when I’ve been depending on it to really get me through some pretty severe depression and anxiety.
I started collecting some of the essays and reflections I’ve written with the hopes of creating a sort of nonfiction/memoir piece about what it means to train to overcome life’s obstacles. I’m proud to say I officially finished my first draft tonight. Now comes the heavy job of revising and trying to turn it into something presentable.
Now that I’m officially 34, I want to take the opportunity to start thinking a little bit more about my goals as a writer. Where do I want to be a year from now? Obviously, I’d love to see all three of these manuscripts finished and at some phase of the publishing process (if not already released).
Then five years from now, by the time I’m 39…what will my writing career look like then?
Finally, 10 years from now, when I’m 44, where do I want to be?
They’re all good questions. And in the week ahead of me, I want to start setting some better goals for myself. There are aspects of my writing career that are completely out of my control. For example, it’s really not up to me whether I make the New York Times Bestseller List. However, I can absolutely control whether I put out a book a year or a book every other year, whether I branch out to different genres (I mean, writing YA fantasy and nonfiction essays about running are about as polar opposite as you can get, right?), and where I manage to go with my journalism work.
How about you, fellow writers? What goals are you setting for yourself, and what do you hope to accomplish in 2021? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.