Welcome to 2017.
So, here’s a fun factoid: at this point in time I am beholden to no-one and, honestly, that’s how its been for the longest while. It’s also the reason why I’ve been so infrequent with my blog posts, writing, and overall progress. The only thing I’ve managed to really dedicate myself to is my geek critique podcast, ‘Sweet Story, Bro.’
The cruel irony is this: the podcast I created to help me embrace stories on a deeper level – to help me become a better writer – has, for the longest part of 2016, overtaken any sort of actual writing.
The podcast still serves its ultimate purpose. I have definitely grown self aware as a reader since its inception, and I have undoubtely learned from how these writers have chosen to tell their stories. I love engaging with narratives beyond ‘I liked it’/’It was good’ and the opportunity its given me to engage with like minded geeks – shoutout to #PodernFamily on Twitter! – and, perhaps most importantly, it’s fun!
Granted, as much growth as the show has seen since its debut (and format tweakage/evolution) last year on January 4th, I’m still naturally pushing for further growth. For more people to treat their ears to its aural sensations, if you will. It would be a dream if ‘Sweet Story, Bro’ could continue to evolve, to create a dialogue amongst writers and fans, perhaps even rake in a little cash to help with server and equipment costs via Donations and fans using the Amazon links for their online purchases (what a validating feeling it was to see people had been doing exactly this over Christmas!)
The podcast has, undoubtedly, been my greatest success this year. And as stoked as that makes me, it’s a double edged blade as its stolen from me the focus and drive I should have been investing into Temporary.
You know, the book I’ve been working on. One of the primary reasons this blog exists.
And so, like most, in the interest of using this time of year for some key self reflection and introspective dissection, its become clear to me that my habitual self sabotage, coupled with enviable levels of procrastination (emphasis on the pro), wrapped up with a pretty ribbon crafted out of a lack of personal accountability has led me to seeing the end of 2016, like most people, as a bit of a disappointing damp squib.
So, what the fuck do I intend to do about it?
The answer: something.
And sometimes, realising that you need to do something can be enough. I look back at this past year and see ANOTHER year of treading water. Of baby steps. Of overly cautious ‘gently does it’.
I’m sick of it, and I’m sick of getting in my own way.
I have a manuscript. A full, finished manuscript. Temporary, as a story, is done. A labour of love that has existed in one form or another for many, many years at this point, and I am doing myself AND the story a disservice by not applying myself in getting it out there. By not hustling, grafting and working to get it into the hands of people who can get it into YOUR hands.
Instead, I’ve sat on it, allowing days to slip into weeks into months into 2017. Why? Well, in a mild attempt at contextualising, the submission documents are a minefield. I took the gamble and prematurely sent it to an agent I would have loved to have represented me. Given the quality of the cover letter I sent, I don’t blame him one bit for almost immediately denying me.
With thanks to the internet and places like Query Shark, I’ve been able to hone, refine, and finesse these submission documents. Just like with the manuscript itself, the attention to detail and expected quality for these documents is high, and for good reason.
I had to fail in order to learn and, fingers crossed, crafted something that will grab someones attention enough to start reading, to start reading and start liking, to start liking to start loving, to start loving to start signing hopeful writers.
But before that can happen, these literary agents need to know I exist. To make that a reality, I need to conquer my fear, to kill the professional procrastinator in me and refocus. Ambition without drive leads one to nothing but misery, after all. Believe me, I know. That’s a Steve Russell original, folks.
With the asssistance and belief in not only myself and my writing abilities, but in Temporary as a story, one of my dearest friends, Johnny Mac, has insisted in setting a deadline that all submission documents must be completed by. From there, further dates will be set to submit to ‘x’ amount of agents, tackled in waves.
Small, attainable goals, achieved in bursts, insured with deadlines.
And so it’s with this mindset that I enter 2017.
2016 has been a year of difficult lessons and forced patience. Of further failures and inch by inch successes in between treading water. Small victories can matter so much in the face of a growing list of failures, and they’re always worth celebrating.
‘Sweet Story, Bro’ tops my list of 2016 accomplishments. It showed me I am capable of researching, recording and editing a podcast to a schedule. A deadline.
It taught me that I could do, should do, and can do it.
Turns out I work well when I don’t allow myself all the time in the world, with a vague “I’ll submit it when it’s ready at some point” attitude.
Its been a year of stop signs and deadlines.
With these lessons in mind, here’s to 2017.