Tag Archives: writing career

Five Years of Writer’s Block

First admit you have a problem

Of all of the stories I’ve written, my favorite thus far is “Gemma Barrows Comes to Cooperstown.” The story was published as the lead story in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show in May 2015. I finished writing the final draft of the story on Friday, March 13, 2015, and submitted to the magazine’s editor, Edmund Schubert, that same day. Just under two weeks later, Ed emailed to let me know he was taking the story. I’ve never been a superstitious person. I never noted (until now) that I finished the story on Friday the 13th. And besides, what did it matter? I sold the story, and it ended up getting the cover of the magazine, and some nice reviews as well.

I haven’t finished writing a story since. 

“Gemma Barrows” was baseball fiction, and baseball fans love their stats. Friday, March 13, 2015 was 2,137 days ago (according to Alexa, who hadn’t yet been born at that time).

I’ve attempted to write stories during that time. But I’ve never finished one. I’ve never really gotten close to finishing one.

At the time I sold “Gemma” I was coming off of what, for me, was a hot streak. I was selling most of what I was writing at the time, fiction and nonfiction. I was also drifting away from what first got me writing: science fiction. More and more my stories were “science fiction” for the purpose of having convenient markets to sell them to. But the stories were less and less science fictional. For some reason, after “Gemma Barrows” my lifelong interest in science fiction waned dramatically. I mostly stopped reading science fiction. And the stories I attempted to write, while containing a fantastic element here or there, were not stories I’d consider to be science fiction.

Whatever the reason, after March 13, 2015, I found that I had problem: I could no longer finish writing a story.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat

That is not to say that I could no longer write. I had, and still have, no problem writing nonfiction pieces, including the pieces I write here on the blog, and elsewhere. I also had plenty of story ideas. My writers block is not for lack of ideas, it seems. And it is not to say that I stopped writing stories. I just couldn’t finish what I started.

In fact, in the nearly six years since that day in 2015, I have often felt like Phil Conners waking up morning after morning to find that it is still February 2. This began with a story that I started to write (so far as I can tell from my notes) way back in December 2013, but that I started on in earnest in 2014, even before I wrote “Gemma Barrows.” This was another baseball story, and was more or less straight fiction, with one small fantastical twist. I wrote and I wrote, and then I stopped. I didn’t like the pace of the story. I knew where it was going, as I do with most of my stories, but I felt wrong to me.

To get myself back on track, I created a new document, and retyped the opening paragraph, which I liked, and which I felt had a great hook. I then tried rewriting the story from there. But it still didn’t work. I tried this again, and again, always keeping the same opening but writing beyond it without looking at what I had done before. I made three attempts, six, twelve. Looking at that folder just now I see a total of 61 drafts between 2014, and my latest attempt on December 13, 2020.

I’d long since given up on the opening I was so committed to. I’d changed just about every aspect of the story, writing and rewriting, trying different things. But never getting past a certain point. I told myself that I just wasn’t experienced enough to tell this story, and I should wait, maybe write about something else.

I started another story, one that had been floating around in my head for a few years. I conceived it as a 3-part novella, and I wrote the first part quickly, and in style and voice different from what I normally write. I reallyliked it. I submitted the first part to my writers’ group—the first submission I’d made in a long time—and got positive feedback from them on the story. I setup a lot in the 4,400-word first part, and there would have to be a big payoff. But for some reason, I could never move on to the second part.

I’d sit down after days or weeks and tell myself that in order to get that voice back in my head, I’d need to rewrite the first part. Re-type it, really. I’d open the draft in one window, open a blank document beside it, and retype what I had written. All 4,400 words. I did this more times than I can recall. I switched word processors and did it again. I wrote out the 4,400 words long hand in a Leuchtturm notebook. This dragged on over several years. In moments of desperation, I’d wonder to myself if the first part wasn’t the entire story. Did I really need anything more?

Growing even more desperate, I decided to return to the draft of the one and only novel I’d ever written from back in 2013. Maybe it was finally time for me to turn that first draft into a second draft. I started reading the first draft, but no new writing ever came from it. Instead, I turned my attention to a fantasy story I’d written but never sold. Maybe I could rewrite it as a play. (A play? Seriously? I’d never written a play in my life, nor had I ever had the desire to write one. What was I thinking?) Or, if not a play, maybe I could expand it into an epic novel, a la Brandon Sanderson? Nothing came of that either, thank goodness.

I couldn’t move forward. That seemed to be the crux of the problem. I couldn’t finish what I started, and when I finally did decide to move onto something else, it was not onto something brand new, but something old that I felt I could make better. Six years of this cycle: Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Distraction

I still thought of myself as a writer. After all, I’d sold about a dozen stories, and three times as many nonfiction pieces, right? I filled the time I should have spent writing with writing-related tasks. I told myself the problem was that I didn’t have a good environment for writing. I should do everything in plain text with a simple text editor. When that didn’t change things, I told myself I needed more structure, and went back to Scrivener. When that didn’t help, I started using a Freewrite I’d gotten, thinking that writing on a device like that, completely offline and distraction-free would be the ticket. None of it worked, of course.

I distracted myself with other writerly tasks. I decided I would archive all of my previous writing as far back as I could manage to go (another journey into the past, instead of the future). I had Word files from 1992 including the very first story I’d written when I decided I wanted to try selling stories. I would get all of these files archived, and at least be able to look back over the hundreds of files and demonstrate to myself that I hadbeen able to write.

I distracted myself by writing a set of scripts that would look at the git commits I made of my writing each day to generate word counts, so that I could track my progress. The scripts worked surprisingly well, but scripts like these are really only useful when there are, you know, words to count.

I told myself that the enormous amount of reading I was doing was all laying the foundation that would make me a better writer.

The fiction we tell ourselves

When I was young, my grandfather would often quote Hamlet, saying, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” As I got older, he found what I always took to be an amusing and ironic corollary. He’d say to me, “There are only two people I never lie to: myself, and my doctor.”

I might not be able to finish writing a story, but I could still tell myself stories. Could I ever! Tall tales! Fish stories! I’d tell myself that I was a better nonfiction writer than a fiction writer, anyway, so don’t sweat the fiction. Focus on the nonfiction.

I’d tell myself that I had the perfect outlet for my nonfiction right here on the blog. I’d write posts about writing even while struggling with my own fiction writing. What I’d do, I’d tell myself, is not worry about the fiction and focus on the blog, make it into one of the premier blogs on the Internet.

I remind myself of all the times I’d read about other authors struggling with their own writing. I’d tell myself that quality meant much more to me than quantity. I’d always been a slow writer when it came to fiction. I could finish these stories if I wanted to. Heck, I’d been finishing stories since that first one in 1992. But I didn’t just want to finish, I wanted to write the best possible story I could write. I wanted to take it to the next level. I wasn’t writing stories for the science fiction magazines anymore, I told myself, I was writing for Harper’s—that was my new goal. I justified this by reminding myself that when I started out, I wanted my name on the byline of a story in Analog just like Isaac Asimov wanted to see his name on a byline in Analog’s earlier incarnation, Astounding. I wanted my name in Harper’s just like E. B. White had his name there. Even here I was fooling myself. The stories I was reading in the science fiction magazines, before I have it up were at least as good as the fiction I’ve read in Harper’s.

I kept (and still keep) my membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America active, telling myself it is yet another sign that I am a writer, proof-positive for anyone who needs evidence–namely me!

I’ve told myself all kinds of stories over the last six years. None of them were true. There’s the old adage that a fiction writer is a paid liar. By that definition, I’m up there with the best of them. Except, instead of lying to my audience, I’ve been lying to myself.

The next page

The truth is, I’ve been struggling with my writing for the last six years. I can’t finish a story. I can’t even move past one. I hesitate to admit this publicly because I fear it comes across as just another excuse, just another distraction, just another gimmick to fool myself into thinking that I am writing.

The first step is admitting you have a problem. But what if the problem has no solution? If I am being completely honest (this above all else), part of me hopes that by writing this post, my problem will go away, and I’ll find that I can write again.  I doubt that will be the case. Writing fiction is hard for me. That’s the way it should be. Why do it if it is easy?

I suspect that writer’s block is different for every writer who experiences it. No one piece of advice will get me over the wall, except, perhaps, stubborn persistence. Writing fiction isn’t about word counts, or word processors, or document formats or union memberships, or contracts. It’s about facing that blank page in whatever form it may take and turning it into a story that you are proud of. Right now, that blank page seems daunting to me in a way that it never has before. Right now, I feel intimidated by all the good writers that are out there who manage to fill that blank page, whatever their other day-to-day challenges might be. It is easy to say to myself, “just sit down and write a story.” It is even easy to begin to fill that blank page.

The hard part, for me, is filling the next page. And the one after that.

Two rejections before noon

I received two story rejections before noon today, and in some ways, they were oddly juxtaposed.  The first one was from a professional market to which I have never submitted before.  The rejection told me that the story made it past the first cut and went on to detail many of the good points of the story, but that in the end, they simply couldn’t put their finger on what was wrong with it.  In any event, it wasn’t quite right.  It was nice to get such detailed feedback from a pro market, and even though it wasn’t a sale, it was a confidence builder–especially since that story was written back in January.  It shows I am still improving.

Of course, some of that confidence was wiped away with the second rejection I received today.  It was from another professional market, one to which I have already sold a story, and in which my fiction has already appeared.  It was a form letter rejection slip.  In the past, I have received quite a bit of editorial feedback on stories I’ve submitted to this market, and so a form letter rejection felt like a step backward for me.

At the same time, it makes me want to try even harder to sell there again.  Rejections are always disappointing, but over time, you learn that you can’t dwell on them too much; you learn what you can from them and move on.  In that light, I’ve already submitted one of the rejected stories to another market.  For the other, I am making a few minor changes, based on what the editors pointed out as possible problems, before I sent it off tomorrow.

Writing update

With the first two months of 2010 in the record books, here is a brief update of my progress so far this year:

  Jan Feb YTD
Days worked  11  9  21
Words written  12,212  8,479  20,691
Stories completed  1  1  2
Stories submitted  2  1  3

Despite writing only 10 days in February, they were 9 consecutive days, the last 9 days of the month.  Then, too, when you look at overall hours spent on writing, or writing-related activities it breaks down to 16 hours in January (just shy of 1.5 hours for each day worked) and 17 hours in February (1.8 hours for each day worked).  As of this morning I have written for each of the last ten mornings, spending a total of about 2 hours each morning either writing or revising.

I’ve gotten myself back into a good schedule.  During the week, I get up at 5am and write until 7am, when Kelly and the baby are still asleep.  On the weekends, I write from 7-9 am.

I have completed 2 stories this year, one very short, the other, a good sized novelette.  This morning, I started my third story of the year, which I hope won’t exceed 6,000 words, and with luck, will be turned into a completed first draft by Saturday.  I didn’t write as much this morning, as I have been, because I am taking this story a bit more slowly, writing a little more deliberately, and not planning things out as well as I normally do.  I want to see where this one takes me.

At present, I’ve got two stories "out" at various markets, and a new one being reviewed by trusted critiquers and fellow-writers before sending it out.  My goal was 20 new stories this year.  I’m 10% of the way there with 16% of the year gone by.  With some shorter stories in the spring, I should be able to pick up the pace a bit.

Recent writing

For the last three days, I have been getting up early and writing, much like I did back in November for NaNoWriMo.  It has been working well for me.  I have averaged about 1,800 words each day, I spend a total of about 2 hours at the keyboard, and then I’m done for the day.  For me, this seems to be the best possible way to find the time to write and leave the rest of the day for work and the evenings for family time.  It is far better than how I was doing for most of February, where I wrote almost nothing.

The new story that I’m working on (no title yet) currently stands at about 8,600 words (nearly 6,000 of which have been written since Saturday) and I think I have around 3,000 words to go, putting the story at around 11,000 words.  I’m hoping to finish the first draft around Wednesday.  It’s a science fiction adventure story with what I hope is an increasingly rapid pace, a race against a critical deadline with life-altering consequences.  How’s that for vague?

This morning, after writing one scene, I skipped ahead toward the end and wrote a pivotal scene:  one that I’ve been wanting to write for a very long time (this story has been on my list for a few years), and it was a lot of fun to get to do that.  It is a very moving scene in my opinion, and one that can be difficult to write, but those challenging scenes are often the most rewarding.  It’s not perfect and needs work, but I’ve been very happy with what I have been producing the last 3 days.

Writers woes

I haven’t written at all this week.  It’s not because I lack the ideas.  I think there are 3 reasons for it:

  1. I am mentally reworking the story that I was writing.  This comes from some of the workshopping I did two summers ago.  I could see problems with the story as it was going, and I’m trying to redirect it in situ.  Actually, I think this is a good thing: a sign that I am recognizing these problems sooner.  But there is one plot point I can’t seem to make work and so I keep putting off writing, hoping it will come to me.  That, of course, is bad.
  2. I’m pretty tired in the evenings when I get home from work.  I also feel guilty that some of my writing time eats away at time with Zach and Kelly.  Clearly the solution to this is to go back to early morning writing, which worked so well in November.
  3. I’ve been doing a lot more reading.  I finished the massive and fascinating Kornbluth bio, and I’m more than halfway though and equally fascinating (for different reasons) Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson.  In addition I’ve been trying to stay on top of NEW SCIENTIST and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.

Bottom line is that I keep putting it off in favor of other things.  I just have to sit down and do it.  I’ve been averaging something like 3000-4000 words a week when I could easily double that by writing every day.  Weekends end up being the worst.

Well, it’s late now.  I’m going to read for 20 minutes before heading off to bed.

Originally published at Jamie’s Blog. Please leave any comments there.

Book signing

Yesterday, I wandered over to a friend’s house–we’ll call him "Todd"–to borrow shovel.  While there, he told me he’d received his copy of DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS, the anthology of short fiction containing my story, "Hindsight, In Neon".  He asked me to sign it.  I think it was a fair trade, considering he was loaning me his shovel.  (I managed to break our shovel in the last snow storm.)

It marked the first time I was asked to sign something in which a story of mine appeared.

Weekly writing progress report for 2010, week #4

Here’s the status of the progress I’ve made toward my writing goals for 2010 for week #3:

  Week YTD
Total words written 3,159 12,212
# stories completed 0 1
# stories submitted 0 2
# stories sold 0 0
Summary:  Not as good as I hoped this week.  Busy with work and family stuff, but I am happy with what I have done thus far on the story and I think I will make a lot more progress on story #2 in the coming week.

Weekly writing progress report for 2010, week #3

Here’s the status of the progress I’ve made toward my writing goals for 2010 for week #3:

  Week YTD
Total words written 4,202 9,053
# stories completed 1 1
# stories submitted 2 2
# stories sold 0 0
Summary: Well, the best week so far, out of the first three weeks of the year.  I completed my first story of the year.  After struggling with the story, mostly in how to tell it, I opted to try for a short approach rather than the longer approach that I was heading for.  The final draft was about 950 words and I sent the story off to Flash Fiction Online.  It wasn’t the first piece of flash fiction I’d ever written, but it was certainly the first conscious piece.  This week I’m getting started on the next story, of which I’m hoping to have a completed draft by February 4.  This is a story I’ve been wanted to write for a long time, but which I haven’t been sure how to do it right.  I think I’ve got that figured out now and I’ve been plotting it out in my head.  I should get the first words down this evening.

Weekly writing progress report for 2010, week #2

Here’s the status of the progress I’ve made toward my writing goals for 2010 for week #1:

  Week YTD
Total words written 1,652 4,851
# stories completed 0 0
# stories submitted 0 0
# stories sold 0 0

Summary: Ugh.  Another terrible week for writing.  Part of it has been distraction.  But for the story I’m working on, I suddenly feel as if I’ve forgotten how to tell a story.  I have two completely different approaches to the story and have been bouncing back and forth between both of them.  I can’t seem to settle on one or the other.  On Thursday or Friday, I finally sat down and reviewed my notes from the James Gunn workshop I did a few summers ago.  I think I’ve finally opted on the approach.  Now I just have to get back into the discipline I had back in November and get back to writing every day.  (This week I managed to write only one day!)

Weekly writing progress report for 2010 week #1

Here’s the status of the progress I’ve made toward my writing goals for 2010 for week #1:

  Week YTD
Total words written 3,199 3,199
# stories completed 0 0
# stories submitted 0 0
# stories sold 0 0

Summary: Not a very auspicious beginning to what is an aggressive set of goals for the year, but at least I managed to get some writing done in the first full week of 2010.  I wrote on 4 days this past week, all in the evening, which is different from what I’d done during NaNoWriMo back in November.  I’d really like to get back to the early morning writing, but it’s been hard to get myself up at 5 am.  I’ve also written less each session.  During NaNoWriMo, I was writing about 2,200 words per day.  This week I managed to average 800 words per day, with my best day reaching just over 1,000 words.  I’m hoping this too improves with time.  I plan on finishing the first story of the year this week, going through the second draft, sending it out for some comments, and hopefully getting it into the mail not later than Wednesday of next week.

Writing goals for 2010

So far, my writing career has seen me sell and publish 2 stories to professional markets, with one of those stories also appearing in an anthology.  When I started writing seriously, way back in January of 1993, publishing even one story was a dream that thrilled me in ways that are difficult to describe.  It took 14 years to make that first sale, and another year and a half before I made the second sale.  Looking back on those early stories, I can see improvements.  Heck, I can see improvements in my writing even on more recent stories.  The online workshop I participated in last year run by James Gunn was a big help in this respect.  I love science fiction.  I love reading science fiction and I love writing science fiction.  I love being part of the camaraderie that is science fiction fandom.  I want more of it.

It seems to me that as much as I want to be a science fiction writer, I have never really set goals for myself to work toward.  I did this successfully for NaNoWriMo this year and was pleased with the results.  I do so now for my writing career in 2010.  (The year I make contract.)  I work best with aggressive goals, and I am posting them openly so that you can keep my honest.  I have four basic goals, each of which has one or more objectives through which I hope to achieve them.

1. Make 5 short fiction sales (at least 3 of which should be to professional markets) and become an Active SFWA member.

I currently have 2 professional credits and need one more to become an active SFWA member.  As an associate member, I can do almost everything an active member can do, except vote for Nebula awards and one or two other things.  It would be nice to vote for the Nebulas, but moreover, becoming an active member shows me at least that the first two sales were not flukes.  Here is how I plan on making 5 short fiction sales:

  • Write 20 new stories in 2010.  From my experience with NaNoWriMo this year, I learned that given the time, I have no problem writing nearly 60,000 words in a month.  For NaNo, I would do my writing between 5-7 am during the week and 7-9 am on the weekends to minimize the impact on family time.  It worked out well.  I don’t have a dearth of story ideas; that has never been a problem for me.  It’s been sitting down and writing them.  Assuming the average short story is 6,000 words (some are much longer, but some are much shorter), we’re talking about 120,000 words over the course of a year.  Put another way, it’s about one complete story every 2-1/2 weeks.  This seems reasonable to me.  I have never written more than 2 or 3 stories in a year, but NaNo showed me how to be more consistent in my writing and I am depending on this discipline to help keep me on track.
  • Aim for 100 submissions.  That sounds like a lot, and certainly, some of this is out of my control.  But look at it this way.  Suppose I just submitted to 5 markets, the Big Three (Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF, as well as the two professional markets to which I have already sold stories, Intergalactic Medicine Show and Apex Magazine), that means sending each story I write to 5 different markets.  For 20 stories that’s 100 submissions, assuming no sales.  For a few of the markets, I can skip the slush pile, being a prior contributor.  For a few of the others, I have received direct editorial feedback on stories and I get the idea that I have at least some name recognition.  The responses have seemed faster, anyway.  100 submissions might be aggressive, but then again, I am really not limited to just 5 markets and that could make some of it easier.  After all, it is possible that at some point toward the end of the year, I could have 20 stories "out" at the same time.
  • Learn from the feedback I receive.  One thing I’ve noticed is that I get more direct, personal feedback on rejection slips than I used to.  This has been especially true for stories I send to IGMS and Analog.  Learning from this feedback and improving upon it in each subsequent story will be invaluable.  Furthermore, I have built up a small network of fellow writers (all of whom have published fiction) whose opinions I trust.  Listening to their feedback and learning from it is also invaluable.

2. Submit my novel through an agent to one or more publishers for consideration

In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the second time, and this time, I came out a winner.  I have a novel that is, at this point, about 65% complete, that tells a compelling stories with a cast of what I think are very interesting characters.  I’ve never written a novel before and I’ve always thought of myself as a short fiction writer (it’s the form I love the most).  But what I’m striving to be is a science fiction writer; I’m looking at a career and new challenges and one new challenge for me is a novel.  Here is how I plan on submitting my novel in 2010:

  • Finish the novel.  I’ve got about 60,000 words of what I estimate to be a total of 90,000 words complete in first draft.  I found that I needed a break for a while to allow things to become fresh and exciting in my head again.  So I’m pausing on the effort for a time while I return to some short fiction.  But I plan on getting back to the novel in the not to distant future and completing the first draft by around my birthday at the end of March.  Then I’ll set it aside for 4-6 weeks and write some more short fiction before returning to the novel for the second draft.  Once the second draft is completed, I’ll look for some feedback on it.  My objective is to have a final draft that I feel comfortable sending out by the end of the summer.
  • Find an agent.  Isaac Asimov, my literary hero, managed most of his career himself without an agent except in rare instances.  It is natural that I would want to ascribe to this philosophy as well.  But I am not Isaac Asimov and times change.  It seems to me that my best chance for submitting my novel in the most efficient fashion, and getting appropriate considering is through the use of a literary agent.  I am under no illusions about how difficult this is, but I think I have a few advantages: (1) a completed novel (by the time I start my search); (2) at least 2 professional sales, demonstrating some amount of writing ability–enough at least to get into the professional short fiction markets; (3) the possibility of a few more sales before my search, which bolsters #2; finally (4) an outline for 2 more novels in the same "series", showing that I have more to offer the agent than just what’s in the envelop.  I will try to work through some of the contacts that I have to get the names of agents who are reputable, but would also be willing to give my novel a genuine glance.  My objective to be to have a targeted list of agents to whom I could send the novel, each of whom would be fairly likely to at least read the first 3 chapters and provide feedback by the end of the summer.  In a perfect world, this would lead to an offer of representation before the end of the year.
  • Submit the novel to one or more publishers preferably through an agent representing me.  However, if I don’t have any representation by December 31, 2010, I will query a few editors that I have met at conventions and send the novel off myself if there is interest.

3. Write another novel.

During NaNoWriMo this year, I came up with the idea for a short, mainstream novel that I think would be a lot of fun to write.  The thing came into my head almost fully formed, which is unusual for me.  Despite being mainstream, my plan is to write that novel during NaNoWriMo 2010 if for nothing else than the experience of novel writing, of which I have done very little compared to short fiction.  The exception to this would be the unlikely even that my current novel sells and there is definite interest in a sequel.  In that case, I would obviously be working on the sequel.

4. Expand my network

The first science fiction convention I ever attended was RavenCon in 2007.  Since then, I’ve probably been to 10 cons or so.  I’ve been treated as a "real" writer by the likes of Michael A. Burstein, Robert J. Sawyer, and Barry N. Malzberg.  I enjoy these conventions enormously.  However, up until now, I have been somewhat star struck every time I go to these things.  I realize that science fiction is a relatively small world.  But still, walking around a parking lot with Barry Malzberg, chatting with Scott Edelman, having dinner with Rob Sawyer, and being introduced to people as a writer by good folks like Michael Burstein and Edmund Schubert is a dizzying experience for me.  I think I need to start thinking of myself as a real writing and being a little less shy about introducing myself to others at these conventions.  Here’s how I plan on expanding my network in 2010:

  • Attend more cons.  I was reviewing my 2010 calender last night trying to identify the key conventions that I want to attend in 2010.  It has become harder to do this with an infant, but Zach will turn 1 in the middle of the year and I just may be able to get to a few more conventions.  Most of them are local, of course, but there are two I’d really would like to attend out of the local area: (1) Nebula Awards Weekend in May in Florida, and Readercon in July in Boston.  I am already reserving these dates and planning other things around them to ensure that I can attend both.  I’ve never been to a Nebula weekend, and that just sounds like fun.  I attended Readercon 2 years ago and it was perhaps the single best convention I’d ever been to.  In addition to those cons, I’d like to spend at least a day each at RavenCon (April), Balticon (May), although this may conflict with the Nebula Weekend, and Capclave (October).
  • Participate more.  Michael Burstein suggested to me nearly 2 years ago that I should try and get on some panels.  At the time, I was terrified by the idea, being a new writer, but now it seems like a good idea to me.  I have a pretty good knowledge of science fiction literature, and if nothing else, I bring the experiences of a recently new (and hopefully up and coming) writer.  The only problem is that I have no idea how one goes about getting themselves onto panels.  If anyone out there has suggestions, particular for any of the cons I mentioned above, please let me know.
  • Participate more online.  My regular blog is returning, and while I imagine I’ll be writing about stuff that almost no one is interested in from time to time, my objective here is to focus on my developing career as a writer.  I also plan to be more active in discussion forums that are frequented by the key players in the genre.  Hopefully I have something to contribute there as well.
  • More SFWA volunteering.  I have been doing on-and-off volunteer work for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since the middle of 2009 and I hope to continue that in 2010.  It’s my way of giving back to those who have taken the time to help me as a new writer, and it has the added benefit of putting me in touch with people who I might not otherwise have had a context for introducing myself.

This is a lot. I know it is.  It is an aggressive plan for 2010,  but the payoff, if it works, is to help jump-start my career as a science fiction writer.  I am a software developer by trade, and I’ve probably gone as far as I’m going to get with that.  But at 10 years old, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was likely to tell you that I wanted to be a science fiction writer.  And if you asked me that same question today, I’d likely give you the same answer.

So here is to hoping that my last blog entry for 2010 will review the extraordinary changes that have taken place in my writing career over the past 365 days, several more sales, active SFWA membership, more networking, and maybe even representation.

Happy New Year, everyone!