Looking Back and Ahead

posted in: Musings | 0

Janus is the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He’s characterized by having two faces – one that looks forward, and one that looks behind him. It’s appropriate, then, that our month of January is named for Janus, as the new year offers a great time for looking back on the past year to learn from our accomplishments and mistakes, and to look ahead to set goals.

Janus, Roman god of beginnings and transitions

2014 was a monumental year for me. This year, I saw one of my long-cherished dreams come true when I published my first novel! 2014 began with a flurry of revisions. In the beginning of the year, I tried to submit the book to agents and publishers, and then, when that didn’t pan out like I’d hoped, I sunk into a short-lived funk in which I thought my dream would never become a reality. In September, signing with Meryton Press revitalized me. The run-up to publishing The Muse involved so much work: revision, editing, web design, social networking, and book marketing and promotion. When it finally released a few weeks ago, I stared at my Amazon author page, basking in relief, joy, anxiety, and exhaustion, and thinking, “What now?” I spent so many years being an “aspiring writer.” Now that I’m an “real writer,” I’ve had to shift my identity and my priorities a little bit.

Here’s what my year of The Muse taught me:

  • Revision is hard. Plan first. Don’t be afraid of the Delete key.
  • Find and keep a network of writers. This year, I joined the Romance Writers of America’s NYC chapter. In addition to soaking up the advice of some very savvy writers, chapter meetings inspired me to keep writing, revising, and submitting. The authors in the Meryton Press network also share writing and marketing ideas, which proved to be very useful as I embarked on this journey. I can say with 100% confidence that, had I not had these writing networks, I would not have been able to publish my book.
  • In that same vein, being a part of a reading community has been essential, too. Writers need to read. I use Goodreads and Facebook to interact with other readers and shared books, articles, pictures, and jokes.

Looking ahead at 2015, here is what I hope to accomplish:

  • Continue to build my network of fellow readers and writers by participating in RWA meetings, becoming more active on Goodreads and Facebook, and perhaps even attending a writing conference or two!
  • Prioritize writing in my life by carving out and protecting time to write daily and weekly. As a writer with a full-time job and full-time life, it’s easy to schedule work, friend dates, time with my boyfriend, Internet surfing, etc. into all of my free time. This year, I’m going to start scheduling writing dates with my MacBook into my calendar. Similarly, use school breaks (winter, spring, and summer) to write.
  • Start (and finish!?) my next book. I have a few ideas for the next project. The problem is choosing one and going with it!

What about you? What has been your biggest accomplishment of the year? What have you learned? What goals will you set in the coming year?

The Austen Project “F-Word”

posted in: Writing Life | 0

Have you heard about The Austen Project?

It’s an project in which “six bestselling contemporary authors” are paired with each of Jane Austen’s six novels. From the website: “Taking these well-loved stories as their base, each author will write their own unique take on Jane Austen’s novels.”

Um…so basically these are fanfic, yeah? Sorry, are we not supposed to call them that? Because “bestselling contemporary authors” are writing them and Harper Collins is publishing them?

Wait…isn’t this just fanfic? (Picture taken from The Guardian’s website.)

The Austen Project is nothing new or original. Re-telling and modernizing Jane Austen’s stories has been done. It’s being done. Hello, Clueless. Hello, Bridget Jones’ Diary. Hello, Hyacinth Gardens, Derbyshire Writers’ Guild, and A Happy Assembly. Hello, Meryton Press. Of course, I’ve read some of the Austen Project novels, will probably read all of them, and am stoked for Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld. I welcome any and all Austen adaptations.

But my point is that fanfic is pooh-poohed by the Publishing Establishment, except when they’re trying to capitalize on it. Let’s just call The Austen Project what it is: Jane Austen Fan Fiction!