Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Setting Goals, Reaching Goals, and Chasing Goals . . .

    What do I want to do with myself this year?  Isn't that a question we all ask ourselves as the glow of the New Year fades and the gloomy reality of the "thirty-nine days of February" set in?  (Yes, I know it's only twenty-nine, but if you're a schoolteacher you know EXACTLY what that phrase means!) Forget New Year's Resolutions.  I mean, most of us break those things, if we bother to make them at all, within the first week of the New Year. 

NEW YEAR'S DAY: "This year I resolve to lose weight!" 
ONE WEEK LATER - "Why don't these jeans fit anymore??"
NEW YEAR'S DAY: "This year I am going to avoid eating sweets!"
ONE WEEK LATER: "Whoa, they make ONE POUND Snickers bars??"
NEW YEAR'S DAY: "I am going to be less bothered by silly little things this year."
ONE WEEK LATER: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.  You cut me off in traffic.  Prepare to die!!"

     You get the idea.

     Still, all of us try to set some sort of goals for the New Year.  Professional goals (at my work those are actually a requirement!), Personal Goals, Relationship Goals (big hint - if your S.O. isn't on board with those, they ain't happening!), Hobby-Related Goals, Reading Goals, you name it.  These are the things we really and truly TRY to do, and hope to achieve.  And, miracle of miracles, sometimes we actually manage to achieve them!

     So as I sit here on this rainy February evening, contemplating the fact that I have gone WAAAY to long without updating this blog of mine, I think about what my goals are and how I can best reach them this year. And, since this is the place where I share my thoughts with the world (or at least with the couple hundred or so people who read my entries), I thought I'd tell you what they are.

     First of all, I want to finish my current work in progress, my book, PRESIDENT HAMILTON: A NOVEL OF ALTERNATIVE HISTORY.  In all honesty, this isn't that big a challenge, since I am thirty-five chapters in and have perhaps three more to go.  With any luck, the story will be done in the next month or so.  Unlike many authors, finishing books isn't that big a deal for me.  Since I started writing my first novel, THE TESTIMONIUM, eight years ago this month, I have completed a total of six novels.  (I know, I only have five in print.  My last published work, THE GNOSTIC LIBRARY, underperformed and so I was not offered a contract for THE EMPEROR AND THE APOSTLE.)  But still, it's a long and winding road from writing the title page and then typing "The End", and I hope to hit that point early on this year.

     The next big challenge will be securing a publishing contract.  I have been very blessed in my association with the good folks at Electio Publishing; they took a chance on a rookie author and have given me contracts on my first five books.  But publishing is a business, and while I like Christopher and Jesse very much, I haven't yielded them a big return.  I think this book has enormous potential, with a huge audience reach, but I have said that before.  If they decide that this one is not worth the risk, given the current market, I'll absolutely understand.  At that point, my options will be to seek another publisher, secure a literary agent, or perhaps to do the one thing I have not done before - self-publish one of my books.  The thing is, I want this book to come out SOON, while the HAMILTON musical is still touring, and before the theatrical release comes around.  So my biggest professional goal would be to see this story either in print or about to be released by the end of this year, or early next year.  That's a big goal, but not unreachable.

     Those are my professional goals as a writer, and I intend to do my best to reach them.  As always, I hope you, my faithful readers and social media followers, will come along for the ride and enjoy the story when it becomes available.

     As a teacher, I've actually hit a very comfortable place in my career.  I love my job, I love my kids, and sharing the remarkable story of man's past with them every day is all any educator could want.  My goal with them is simply to keep doing what I am doing, watching my little sprites grow up from seventh grade to their senior year, and being able to share that journey with them along the way.

      Personal goals?  First and foremost, to get my daughter's wedding over and done with and see my second baby chick launched from the nest.  The big day is a month away as I write these lines, and lots of plans have been made, while others are still being made.  After that, the big adjustment is coming - after 25 years as parents, Patty and I will be settling into our role as a couple, slightly complicated by the other role we share as senior caregivers for her aging mom.  But we will figure things out, as we always have, and I look forward to the "empty nest" years.  At some point, maybe we'll be able to travel again, that would be nice.  But whatever we do, I hope we are able to enjoy each other's company for many years to come.

   Oh yeah, and I need to lose some weight.   After I eat this big plate of spaghetti!