"Expectation is the root of all heartache." --William Shakespeare
There's something about the new year that makes me even more hopeful for the future than usual. I'm a relentless optimist, and every year, I think this is going to be it, this is going to be my year.
This year, I'll write the book I love, the one that everyone who reads it thinks is amazing. This year, I'll write the best damn query letter anyone's ever seen, and I'll get an agent on my first round. This year, it's all going to work out. This year, my career starts.
And it never happens.
You know what? To hell with that. The new year's a good time for affirmations and assurances, yes, but I don't need a new year for things to get started. Nobody does. Writing is a year-round job, and those moments we're waiting for can come at any time. Start something new with the new year if you want, but there's no reason to feel like you have to.
Because when you're in this place, this limbo of plotting and planning and writing stuff with no idea if it'll ever be published, the only thing you need to worry about is writing what you want to write, and making your work the best it can be. That's all that matters.
With that in mind, something I've already learned this year is that it helps to look at what you're working on and figure out if it's what you well and truly want to write. I've spent the past two weeks working on six different plots-in-progress. And I've learned that just because I like the ideas that go with a genre, that doesn't necessarily mean I want to write in that genre.
Simply put, as much as I like the trappings of dark fantasy and the cosmic horror story, I lose interest when I try to plot those stories. It's still a struggle for me to really put my characters through hell (though I'm getting better at that, I swear), and while I believe in making everyone earn their happy endings, I want there to be happy endings, damn it. So after careful consideration, I decided to set aside dark fantasy.
Instead, I'm going to write metal fantasy. I want to write worlds that read like they were swiped from the lyrics of albums where every single instrument was turned up to eleven. I want people to look at the covers and swear they've seen that art on an album before. I want to write books where, if they're ever made into movies, they'll have to get a necromancer to dig up Dio to do the soundtrack.
(Yes, I said dig up, not resurrect. You can't get much more metal than having an undead guy do your soundtrack.)
I do still want to write a bunch of other stuff, yes, but I just came up with the term "metal fantasy" this past Monday and I'm honestly not sure if I'm the first to apply it to literature. But it resonates with me strongly enough that I plotted a full book from stuff I came up with that day. It needs work, as all plots-in-progress do, but I love it so far. And it's not the only thing I've been working on that's going well - the story that's been evading me for months, one I've blogged about several times, finally clicked for me this past Friday. I've got a huge chunk of it plotted, and while there's still a lot to figure out, I'm ridiculously pleased to know how it goes.
...which brings me back to my point about how the only thing that matters in this stage is writing what you want and making it as good as you can. Will a metal fantasy tale in a world where everyone has dragon ancestry ever sell? I don't know. Will a surreal YA story involving dream duels ever sell? No idea! What matters is that I keep trying, and keep going.
Because regardless of what year it is, someday, I'm going to get published. Someday, we all are. And it'll be better for all of us, and all of our future readers, if what gets published is exactly what we want to write. So write that.
"If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold onto. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve." --Lao Tzu
Yes, I say all this because I need to hear it. But I'm sure I can't be the only one.