goals

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This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after the other until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.

– Neil Gaiman

 

I’ve spent a fair bit of time today thinking (ie. trawling the archives of Writer’s Digest, 43Folders and Zen Habits) about what I need to do to get my writing career moving. And while the most effective practice that I can put into place is to actually write more, I’ve realised that the best way to progress is to set myself goals.

I write every day. Whether it’s a diary entry, checklist, an idea, a blog post, research for a story or a story itself, I write something every day. The problem is that very little of it amounts to anything tangible, usable. I lack focus. I know that I write best when I have a goal, something specific to work towards, a deadline, and it just so happened that this morning, my writer friend Dan (of Pen Wizard) linked me to a publishing house seeking submissions for anthologies. That got me wondering why the heck I haven’t been looking for those sorts of opportunities for myself, because chances are I’m not going to get published sitting at home, watching my laptop screen and waiting for the right person to stumble across my blog. A quick Google search returned quite an extensive list of anthologies looking for writing, many of them themed in genres I enjoy writing, and many of them paid. I ask myself again, why haven’t I done this sooner?? 

So, I’ve narrowed down three anthologies I want to submit to, that open submissions in July. Two are 7,500 words and one is 5,000 words. On top of that, I’m setting myself a goal of a chapter a week for my novel, which has been slowly steeping in the research/ procrastinating phase. I want to post here more frequently. And, I have a submission due for the next issue of The Brisbane Collective’s mag in a month or less, so I am going to be a busy little bee!

If you see me in the real world or on Facebook, or stumble upon my blog, harass me about my writing, what I’m working on, how close to finishing I am, how many words I’ve written that day. Make me feel bad if I haven’t written any. Lord knows I need a kick up the butt.

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T O T H E W O O D S

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The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

 

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,

Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday

 

Aokigahara Forest, at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, and the setting for my newest project. Wild, overgrown and haunted. Apparently the trees are so dense that parts of the forest are in total darkness, even when the sun is at its peak. The wind cannot breathe through the canopy, and the forest is eerily vacant of birds and animals. In the 19th century, it was said that those stricken by poverty and famine practiced ubasute, leaving their elderly relatives and children in the woods to die. Aokigahara is populated by their spirits. It is also the location of over one hundred suicides each year, giving it the second highest rate of suicides after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The boughs of the trees are strung with nooses, and signs mark the pathways urging those who wander them to consider their lives before taking them. There is something poetic, a sad kind of beauty, about this verdant, primeval paradise marked by centuries of human tragedy.

 

This is the story that has been keeping me awake at night, urging me to put it down on paper, and it’s the first time for a while that I’ve had such a clear idea of where I want a project to go. I will have a snippet up for y’all to read in the next couple of days :)

 

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(Photos from http://www.travelx.com/photos/aokigahara-japan/)