I’m going to finish four books by the end of May with an estimated word count total of 200,000 words.
Don’t choke. Breathe through it. You with me? Okay then.
Please note, I didn’t say I was going to WRITE four books. The books are already on my hard drive, partials left languishing while I let life leave tread marks all over me in 2013. This spring, I’m FINISHING those books.
My estimation is that I started the year with about half the needed words for each book. I’d plugged away on them and for one
reason or the other — some reasons very good and some reasons very … not — I’d set the book aside with the vague plan to get back to it later. Only, I didn’t get back to any of them. I just walked away, added them to my list of unfinished books.
As part of my annual New Year self-assessment, I took some time to look over that list, that horrible, terrible, no-good list of unfinished stories, and I promised myself I would finish them. Some are so close to done that I can’t even remember just why I set them aside. Some are vague ideas I’d jotted down, letting them stew and grow into fully-formed stories. All of them had been left waiting.
My files probably have enough partial stories to keep me busy for a couple of years. I took my time looking them over, pulling out the four that I wanted to finish first. Two are old stories, fully plotted and just a bit away from finished. One of those will be likely be self-published. The other I’m using to query agents. The remaining two are stories that will flow quickly, shorter stories I know I can have out as self-pubs or on unagented submission before my self-imposed May deadline.
When I looked at this file, at these books and all the unrealized potential in them, it occurred to me that this was my career, sitting undone and worthless in so many computer files. I could have already sold these, published them, been earning royalties and advancing my writing career with them. Instead, I let things slide, stopped writing for days, weeks and even months at a time.
Here’s where the great revelation kicks in.
I can’t make a career of my potential.
I have great confidence that I am a good writer, a marketable one. I believe wholeheartedly that the people who read my books will enjoy them. But for that to happen, I have to finish the darn books.
I know, it’s so simple it’s stupid. Writers write… career authors finish and publish.
But at the same time, it’s easy to fall into that groove, to plan great books and get sidetracked, to plan more and let it fall away. It can happen over and over, so quickly and easily you don’t even realize it’s happened until you stop and take a look at your files and see there are five or a dozen or a hundred books there, waiting to be finished. All that potential, neglected and wilting.
This year will likely be spent finishing stories. I want to see the potential of these books realized, to get them finished and off my hard drive.
So, if you try to email me about something, it might take me a little while to get back to you. I’m going to be busy finishing stuff.
How about you? How much potential is languishing on your hard drive?