Walking The Barrel

We’ve all heard the old maxim, “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”

I’m a planner by nature. I like to know what I want, what it’s going to take to get there and then plan out the steps I need to make.

Do you all remember going to the fair and getting in the barrel that revolved? The purpose was to walk from one end to the other without falling. Once you got down, it was nearly impossible to get back up. I was a champion at this and never fell unless someone was tumbling in front of me and they knocked me down.

The secret to success is looking outside the barrel. You can’t look at the place right in front of you. You have to look out the end of the barrel and keep taking one step at a time until you get there. Your focus has to be on where you want to be.

That isn’t a bad method for any worthwhile goal.

Writing for instance. You can’t bog down in the impossibility of the situation. You have to keep focused on the end goal and just keep taking steps in the right direction.

1. Book idea.

2. Research.

3. Write book.

4. More research.

5. Revise.

6. Revise.

7. Major rewrite

7. Revise.

8. Read again and notice you left out some important connectors.

9. Revise.

10. Send to beta readers and gasp at all the stupid mistakes you missed.

11. Set it aside for a few weeks.

12. Revise and gasp again at all the stupid mistakes.

13. Another rewrite.

14. Revise.

15. Make list of dream agents.

16. Query letter and then no less than twenty revisions of that. Make note to move query letter to top of list next time because it will take you as long to write it as it did the novel.

17. Synopsis

18. Read one last time in different font with odd color and gasp at all the stupid mistakes.

19. Submit.

20. Worry about all the stupid mistakes you might have missed.

21. Start on next book.

The nice thing about planning is you eliminate a lot of stupid mistakes while you can still do something about them. You might also find some fatal flaws in your goal. For instance, I probably shouldn’t plan to appear on American Idol for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is age, appearance and lack of singing voice. While I like my voice and the horses like it, that’s about where my fan club ends.

So what’s the difference in American Idol and having this fantasy of being a successful author? Well, for one thing, I love to write and I’m good at it. Not great, but good and I have great beta readers and friends who are willing to give me good advice. I want to keep improving and keep learning. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get a good agent and get published, within reason.

I have no doubt I will be published if I live long enough. If Paladin doesn’t sell another one will.

Such is the secret of happiness for me. Focus on a goal and then take the necessary steps to make it happen.

I have a few other goals in life. Getting published ought to be enough, but I have friends who are published and I realize the reality of it. Getting published is nearly impossible. The chances of making a living writing are even more remote. I don’t think a new writer can count on anything from their writing any more than they can count on winning the lottery. We can eliminate a lot of the stumbling blocks, but there is still just a lot of luck and timing involved.

So, I am back to the planning board for some other things, including a move this summer. I’ve decided to donate most of my books except my research books to the soldiers and I am packing them this weekend.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *