2013: the year ahead

I’ll ‘fess up.

I was planning on being all bubbly and cheerful about looking forward to 2013. But the reality is that I have mixed feelings about this year.

2012 was a year of many big changes, and we’re still seeing the ramifications–both good and bad–for our family. I alternate between being thrilled about the new direction of my writing career (good reviews! sales! strangers who like my books!) and being scared stiff (meh reviews, lack of sales, strangers looking down on me for self-publishing, complete and ever-lasting ruination of my career).

And–this is very superstitious of me–I can’t feel quite comfortable with a year that has a “13” in it. I keep expecting it to go all puckish and slippery on me.

However. January is as good a time as any to work on positive changes in my habits and attitudes, no matter what else life might bring. So, without further ado, here are some things I’m keeping in mind for this year:

Do New Things

I’m a rule-follower. Always have been. And that’s not a bad thing (imagine driving out on the roads with everyone doing their own thing *shudder*), but I take it to an extreme. When I started writing seriously, I crossed all my t’s and dotted all my i’s. I read the right blogs and books. I joined a critique workshop. I parroted Show, don’t tell and Down with passive verbs! I dutifully submitted short stories to ‘zines and queried agents with my novels.

And the truth is that while this was a good path to follow–one many people successfully take to publication–I did it more because of fear that if I didn’t do everything–everything–exactly right, my hopes would be forever and truly quashed.

I let fear rule my writing far too long. This year I’m trying new things–whether it’s writing different forms and genres, exploring new ways to reach readers, or working on quirky, interesting projects. I have some ideas that I’ll be asking opinions about soon!

Recharge my creativity in different ways

These days I wear two hats–homeschooling mom and self-publishing writer. It doesn’t leave me a whole lot of time for other things, but I do need to get out of the box sometimes. So far, my non-writing, non-schooling plans may include:

  • Artist Trading Cards
  • Play piano (I miss it, I really do *sigh*)
  • Draw every day for a month, using prompts from Every Day Matters
  • Doodle class
  • Doodle Stitching
  • 30 Days of Flash Fiction (yes, this is writing, but not my usual style–I’m thinking of doing this in April, which, yanno, is a thirty day month)

Any other suggestions for fun, low-key ways to recharge creativity?

Diversify my reading

I say this every year, but… more classics! This year I’m going off NPR’s Top 100 Speculative Fiction books. I haven’t, for instance, read Dune, the Foundation trilogy, or any Heinlein.

And more non-fiction. I say this every year. One of these days it will stick. 😀


There are a few other things I want to work on, some of which are more personal and some which I should work on but don’t have a plan for as yet (like exercise, *sigh*). Oh, and this year I want to be better about tracking my writing, to see what my base-line productivity actually is.

What are your goals for 2o13? How are you going to get there?


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  1. says

    I love this bit of confession because I feel the same way for different reasons. I needed desperately to get out of a rut with what I was doing and get real progress done, and after last year slipped through my fingers like sand, I knew I needed to do something drastic.

    Thus, the challenge. The real purpose of the challenge was both to reconnect with community and to get. writing. done. I’ve hidden behind process too long and I needed something outside myself to keep me kicking things out the door.

    Today, I hit a new goal that’s also very writerly. I want to finish a piece outside the challenge for each one written for the challenge. I’m not going to track these publicly because I want most to go under my real name, the one I don’t mention when writing as Liana. But some will pop up wherever, and thus, the ancillaries.

    I’m also shifting back into doing both poetry and prose. I think it’s good to step outside of my comfort zone a little, try new forms, new challenges, new genres I’ve never mucked around in before. It’s why I’m hating “Dowse and Bleed,” but I’m also in love with it because it’s forcing me to write in ways I never have about things I never have. That’s good for me. Stretches me out a bit.

    Blessings on your own year, your plans, and excited to see those ideas! Especially flash fiction. I love your work so much and want to read every bit I can get my fingers on. :)

    • Rabia says

      Thanks for sharing some of your thought processes, Liana! I love how you stretch yourself–and your 365 challenge inspired my idea of doing 30 Days of Flash Fiction. I’ll be asking for prompts in March. 😀

      Thanks for being such a wonderful cheerleader. It means a lot to me to have people touched by and excited about my work. Otherwise I feel like I’m groping in the dark.

  2. says

    Your thoughts about following the rules really grabbed me, because as I explore where I want to take my writing, that is the path that seems the most obvious to take. I’m getting the critiques, slashing adverbs (okay those can get heinous, so they go!) and hoping to begin querying agents this year.
    But, isn’t this just more coloring between the lines? 😉 Maybe my real writing future lies somewhere completely different? I consider you a trailblazer in this respect. When I see your gorgeous covers, and read your evocative prose, I can see that the future of writing is going to be a wonderful place.
    (And I think you’re going to love Dune! I read it when I was in high school, but I really wish I had the time to read it again.)

    • Rabia says

      I think there is still value in trying the traditional publishing path. The stamp of quality that a publisher gives, plus the built-in market they provide, is still important to many writers (and readers). You have to pick the path that meshes best with your goals.

      That said, it’s not an either/or question. 😀 You can try different paths for different projects. My self-published stuff is all short–novellas and short stories. I still submit short stories to magazines and anthologies. And I haven’t made up my mind what to do with my novels (I have an idea I’ll be talking about next week-ish). Small press is not out of the question, either.

      And then there’s all the experimental stuff you can do with your fiction–serialization, collaboration, uncommon lengths). Or you can stretch yourself by writing poetry or flash.

      It all boils down to trying different things and figuring out what works for *you*.

      (And Dune is next on my to-read list!)

  3. says

    Take it from someone who read and reviewed 60 + traditionally published books last year- you have the goods, you are a very good writer, one of my favourite discoveries.

    People who thumb there nose at self publishing because its just self publishing I don’t have much time for and neither should you (using my teacher voice).

    Keep at it.

    And yeah Dune I think is worth it, not sure about the others. :)

    • Rabia says

      Thanks, Sean! I suffer from that weird writer malady, which means I alternate between massive egoism and soul-crushing insecurity. I hope to *stay* in a happy medium between those two ends some day (instead of going through it on my way up or down).

      Dune and Old Man’s War are next on my list.

      • says

        I am familiar with the soul crushing insecurity, that undead critical self editor. As soon as I strike him down he rises again. Am yet to taste the nectar of massive egoism :)

        I agree on your approach ie the right tool for the job in regards to publishing avenues. Having your short works out their increases you chances of building some recognition, hones your skills.

        • Rabia says

          I spend more time in the Abyss of Despair than I do on the Peak of Ego. The change in scenery–however brief–is nice, though. *wryly*

          I think we writers are so afraid of putting a step wrong that we often don’t do outside-the-box things that would challenge us. When we’re not published (pre-published?), we don’t want to give agents and editors a reason to not take us on. If we’re published, we want to keep writing in the same genre to establish our brand. Even when we’re well-established, there’s the fear that we might lose readers if we branch out. That intersection between art and commercialism can be tricky.

  4. says

    Fear is a killer – it kills sponteneity, and creativity. I tend strongly towards rule-following – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but the art of it is knowing when rules can, and sometimes should, be broken.
    I like to think I’m not superstitious but 2013 gives me slight shivers so I’m glad I’m not alone :)
    I’m still spooked by the fact that every time I get to grips with my book, disaster strikes. And with this being 2013 too … well…need I say more? Of course I could take the view ‘third time lucky’.

    I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve published and you’re selling. That is such good news! Keep following your Muse – sounds like s/he knows a good thing or two. May your success continue.

  5. says

    Rabia, Love that you are planning to add artsy stitching and doodling to your bag of tricks. I love reading about what writers think about, and that’s why I love your blog!

    • Rabia says

      Thank you, Tammy! I’m continually inspired by your art journaling, and your blog has given me a lot of fun ideas to try out!

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