2018 Goals

2017: The Year of Reading All the Things

In 2017, I had my biggest reading year to date and possibly ever. For those who missed it, Jessie and I had an epic reading battle in 2017, if you define epic as me winning round one and then losing every other round but managing not to get TKO’d at any point. Which I choose to do. We both blew away our previous records for most books read in a year. I hit 440. I’ll have some stats and favorite books posts coming. If I’d pushed at the end, I could have made 445 or 450, but I took a reading break over the holiday season because I have big plans for 2018 too. In fact, I decided this plan months ago, but I decided to hold off so I could hit the big reading number for this year. I’m a completist, so it felt right to give reading my all this year and transition and focus on my new goals in a new year.

Jessie and me during 2017

2018: The Year of Writing All the Things

The big news, which hasn’t been totally secret, but which I’ve mostly kept under wraps is that I’m planning to spend 2018 focusing on writing.Β  My base goal is to “finish” a novel, but I’m very loosely defining finishing to mean getting a full, roughhhhhh first draft done. Obviously, a reach goal would be editing it to put in everything I forgot (you know, anything that’s not banter lolol what else is there) and/or making really great headway on additional books.

Hilariously, if you rolled back a few years to early in my book blogging, back when the drama was authors asserting that bloggers were just jealous wannabe writers, I always said that I didn’t want to be a writer. At the time, that wasn’t a lie, for a host of reasons. The primary change has been that I’ve learned so much more about myself. I started self-treating the anxiety I realized I had and then began therapy.

Finally facing up to my anxiety, I realized how much it had held me back. A nice example is that, until 2017, I never actually cooked anything. My meal prep ran to taking a canned soup or frozen meal and just adding extra fresh stuff (spice or cheese usually) to make it taste a bit better. I’ve always sworn up and down that I hate cooking and that I’m terrible at it. Enter treatment for anxiety. I’ve gotten really sick of the few things I knew how to prepare that I liked, so I signed up for a meal kit service (HelloFresh – click the link if you want to try it with a $40 dollar discount) so that I could pick up kicking skills with simple, curated meals. Turns out I actually kind of like cooking? And when something turns out well I feel like a motherfucking wizard.

So yeah, oops. My anxiety manifests in being really afraid of embarrassment or being bad at things, and so, if I didn’t immediately do well at something, I’d just hate it and avoid it with the A+ evasive maneuvers of any millennial. Now that I actually know what my brain is doing, I can better tell the difference between things I truly don’t like and things I’m afraid to try. Also, related: things I truly am without skill at (see: crafts) and things I can learn to be good at if I stop being so afraid (cooking, writing). 2017 was a big emotional journey year for me, in a lot of ways. Part of that was realizing that there’s always been a part of me that wanted to write, and that the rest of me told that part to shut the fuck up because I suck and no one would ever want to read my awful writing.

Admittedly, it wasn’t all me. My confidence on…most things…is still a bit lacking. Much of my inspiration came from Gillian Berry, who has been the biggest cheerleader in pushing me to really give writing a shot. She started inspiring me last year, when we did some collaborative fun writing as a side project for her. I absolutely love working with Gillian because we have very similar taste, and it’s always been my issue that I get stuck in a plot hole and can’t get out, but that’s not the same with someone else there.

Then, in 2017, Gillian got busy with life things and oh you know WRITING A WHOLE FANTASY NOVEL AND PITCH WARS AND EDIT EDIT EDIT AND GETTING AN AGENT. Which omg I cannot WAIT to read that book and yes I do have to wait and I’m only a little salty about it. But it’s gonna be GOOD. So yeah, Gillian wasn’t as available, and she didn’t have time to work on our fun little side projects (totally understand this), which meant that I was in a bit of a vacuum creatively. I’d learned to enjoy doing that writing and now I didn’t have a project to work on, which really made me think about the impulse I have to write and the secondary impulse to quash it. Though I didn’t start writing, she convinced me that the little ideas that come to me randomly were good starts, and I began to collect them and save them and seriously think about writing them.

There have been a few other people who have been really, really supportive, who I want to thank. Not to sound like a desperate person desperate for approbation, but as I said confidence is a problem, and it means a lot to get positive feedback (and constructive negative feedback). Thank you to both Rachael Allen and Meg for giving me good feedback on a few chapters of a story idea I actually started and abandoned a couple years ago but want to brush off. Extra special thanks to Rachael for giving me the plot idea I’ll need to make progress on that this year. Kelly Zekas, Jessie, Katherine Locke and Dahlia haven’t read a word I’ve written, but they’ve all said such nice things about my goal. I love you all, and thank you for all the help you’ve given me already and any you give going forward.

In some ways, I’m still not sure if I want to be A Writer, but I do know that I want to try my hand at writing. When (or ifβ€”I just wasn’t quite confident enough to say just when) I finish my first draft of a book, I’m not sure what I’m going to do at that point. The whole editing process scares me. The submission process, the agent process, the editor process = even more scary. Basically, I don’t know emotionally yet whether I can handle all of that. Most likely if I keep working on myself, I would be able to, but first I just need to focus on writing and trying to enjoy it; I need to stop putting the cart before the horse and over-thinking things. Why worry about selling a book that doesn’t exist? Why not just have fun writing to start? So that’s my goal. To have fun and to not give up unless I’ve really, truly decided that writing isn’t for me.

To actually finish a draft, I need to give myself permission to write a draft I know is really, really bad. Where characters mostly just talk and forget to actually do things. That’s what editing is for anyway. I also need to permit myself to write out of order, as scenes come to life for me, rather than sticking to a linear process and getting stuck, which is always what happened to me in the past. When things are clicking, I basically get a little movie in my head, and I can see what’s happening so clearly and it feels SO RIGHT. I need to just write those down and worry about where they go later.

What are you going to write though?

Non-fiction picture books, Christian romances, really filthy hard-boiled mysteries about a man without emotions who sexes all the ladies who never have names or underwear.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably have a pretty decent idea of what I want to write, because mostly it’s what I want to read. My ideas come from reading books and wishing something different had happened, that the trope had been flipped, that the heroine got to live her best life. Or from just wishing that certain books existed at all.

How many Jane Austen retellings/modernizations/adaptations can I possibly want to write?

Though I won’t give specifics on any of the projects to the whole internet, I currently have 18 story ideas saved up (and I come up with more all the time as my brain shifts to writing mode). Some I have a pretty good sense of, and some are just the barest wisp of an idea. I’ll most likely be working on a few projects as the spirit moves me, though that remains to be seen, I guess. The stories thatare furthest along conceptually in my head and upon which I might labor in 2018 break down generally as follows:

  • 2 historical romance: one is a retelling with genderbending, both have lgbt inclusion at least in secondary characters
  • 2 contemporary YA romance: one is about sex positivity and double standards, one is a one room hate to love romance
  • *cough* Austen retellings: the ones I’m most likely to work on are an NA Persuasion or a YA P&P with a bunch of gender swapping.
  • 1 fantasy western: one of my favorite ideas, but also very much the most difficult for me to pull off because it requires good plotting and world building (halp); genderbending, bisexual love triangle, and a whole lot of humor…probably

From what I’ve started trying to write so far (which admittedly isn’t much), I do know a few things. Shocking no one, almost every single idea centers on a ship. For one thing, I read for ships, and I’m really knowledgeable about romance tropes, so I have a very good idea of what I want but can’t get (or get often). Most every idea leans very heavily to the comedic as well, because I live for banter and it’s the thing that’s easiest for me to write. Dialog is where I live; narrative is where I languish.

In addition to romance, I’ve been very drawn to retellings. These are appealing partly because they lend me a narrative structure, which will be very helpful for me as I try to complete a first novel. However, it’s not just because they look “easier” (which, honestly, with writing, anything that looks easy comes with its own set of complexities, so it’s really not that simple). I also personally really love retellings, and I get really frustrated both by retellings that don’t understand the key components of the original character dynamics and by retellings that continue to be heteronormative and mayonnaisey as fuck even though it’s not the nineteenth century anymore.

What’s your writing process?

TBH, I have no idea really. Historically, I’d try to write in a linear fashion, and I would get stuck and I would give up. I need to free myself to write whatever scene I’ve got locked in and to be messy. Everything in me wants to go in order, but unfortunately that’s just not how the ideas come, and I need to follow the ideas. Basically, I need to write all the shippy banter scenes and then go back and work out the actual structure, I suspect.

I’m also currently planning to work on more than one project at a time, rather than focusing on one and being totally stuck if I’m not feeling the motivation. I’m not sure if I’ll be successful at that or not, but I do want to give it a go. I think that if I can retain enough details, it should help me keep writing fun rather than like work.

In the past, I’ve written in Word and Google Docs, but I’m planning to download the free trial of Scrivener (just to make sure I like it, but current plan is to buy it). Just like how I assigned myself a certain amount of reading per day so that I could hit my reading goals, I plan to assign myself a daily writing goal, and I need Scrivener’s session word count feature to keep track. I’m not sure how much is a reasonable goal each day, so if any author friends have suggestions on that, feel free to reach out. I’m probably going to start high and adjust down if it’s ridiculously difficult. Once I meet the daily reading goal, I can switch to TV and books or I can keep writing if I want. These sorts of structures can be stifling for some, but, without imposing order on myself, I wouldn’t do anything but watch TV and sleep, so it’s worked for me in the past.

No doubt I’ll be learning and changing my process every day. A lot of it’s guesswork and I’ll figure out what works best for me through trial and a lot of error.

What does this mean for A Reader of Fictions?

I’m not totally sure yet tbh. I’d considered shutting the blog down for focus (and other reasons), but I’ve decided against that. Most likely, I will be posting less, since I will not have as much time for reading. I’ll probably try posting sporadically at first when I run out of pre-scheduled reviews partway through January. Then at some point, that will probably drive me up a wall, so I’ll move to a MWF posting schedule. Cover Snark might end…or it might not. I really just will have to see what I have the energy for and how things go. Hopefully you guys will stick with me through this!

13 responses to “2018 Goals”

  1. Joanne Levy says:

    Good on you. Writing is so much fun, until it’s not. The goal of getting published (or getting published again) can suck all that fun out of the process. Enjoy writing and being free about it–writing what you want to write for the sake of world-building and playing God to people you create and will inevitably fall in love with (even if you hate what they do). You’re on the right track and I wish you many words.
    FWIW, my daily goal is 1000 words. Sometimes it takes all day, sometimes it’s a half an hour. Sometimes nothing is working and I need to take several hot showers and dog walks before my brain untwists and the words come back.
    BTW, my ‘day job’ is as an author assistant so I support both traditionally published authors and also indie ones, so I can speak to both sides of the business and pros/cons of each, so if you ever want to chat, you know where to find me. πŸ™‚
    Godspeed on your writing journey.
    Joanne Levy recently posted…Telling Tales!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yeah, I’ve always just figured I shouldn’t waste my time on it, since I knew I didn’t have the right personality for publishing. Since I’ve worked on my mental health, maybe I could now, but I also just need to not let that decide what I do. Plus, focusing on what’s publishable would indeed take a lot of the fun out of it. And I might end up writing something that isn’t what I wanted it to be.

      I’m thinking I’ll start with 1K as my goal, and I’ll bump it up or down if it seems too easy or too hard. I suspect as I get further on, I’ll need to decrease it, but who knows!

      I always come up with really great writing ideas in the shower; I don’t know why, but it’s awesome.

      I probably would be even less inclined to self publish, but I will absolutely keep that in mind. Thank you!!!

  2. Leah says:

    Writing a book has always been one of my goals, too, but I always stop myself because I expect everything to be perfect and that’s so unrealistic.

    My sister and I are locking down in 2018 to finish the projects we’ve been wanting to finish, because book babies must be born.

    Best of luck to you, Christina. Wherever the path takes you, it’s going to be great.
    Leah recently posted…{Top Ten of 2017} Top 10 Books We’re looking forward to in 2018My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Those little voices in our heads can be real dicks, huh? But we can all do it! We’ll finish a thing in one fashion or another this year!

      Thank you so much!

  3. Joanne Levy says:

    Also, have you read Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD? It’s not only the best book about writing, IMHO, but it’s damn funny, too.
    Joanne Levy recently posted…Telling Tales!My Profile

  4. I will miss you and Jessie’s reading battles but good luck with the book! That’s incredibly exciting. πŸ™‚
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel WoodMy Profile

  5. Bekka says:

    Ahhhh I am so happy and excited for you! Both for taking care of yourself and for pursuing this passion. I will miss the epic reading battles but this is much, much better.

    My 2018 top priority goal is to finish writing this WIP I started a loooong time ago. It has less than 10k to it and it’s… not great, so it will probably be a start-from-scratch kind of thing. For obvious reasons I won’t be writing daily, but weekly. We can cheer each other on if you want!

  6. CHRISTINA!!! I love all of this and I’m so excited for you and proud of you!! I find the idea of editing and everything else scary as well so I’m with you there… but I’m also trying to remind myself that I love writing and have always loved writing and should just write because I want to. It would feel so good to finally finish a draft. I’m trying to get better at writing out of order because sometimes a scene really does jump right into your head! I’m at 35K for a book I legit started in some form about 6 years ago. It’s time I finished it. I absolutely love all of the story ideas you listed!!! That’s the number one thing I’ve found- if I’m still thinking about an idea (and there are 3 including my current WIP) and wanting to come back to it time and time again, I really do want to write it. Let me know what Scrivner is like! I always use Word. In my mind, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 words a day is reasonable bc that’s about 4-8 pages and if I actually wrote every day I could finish in a couple months. Now do I do that? No haha. Can’t wait to see where your blog goes and where your writing goes! If you ever want another pair of eyeballs let me know, though I’m sure you’ve got plenty of offers πŸ™‚ Or if you ever want to word sprint! That helps me sometimes, starting at a specific time and writing as much as I can for 30 minutes or so. GOOD LUCK!!!
    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted…2017 End of Year SurveyMy Profile

  7. Gillian says:

    All my reading friends becoming writing friends is making me feel some type of way, let me tell you

    Also very proud of all the punching anxiety in the face, BUTTS GALORE (#outofcontextcomments ftw)

    ooo it’s weird to see my full name in there haha

    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    as you know i LOVE YOUR IDEAS and I'm just so exciteddddd

    messy and out of order, how i live both my drafting and my life

    Gillian recently posted…HOW I GOT MY AGENT (!!!): A Tale of Hogwarts Houses, Micro Dreams, and AnxietyMy Profile

  8. Katelyn says:

    This is awesome. All of it. The anxiety tackling, the therapy, the writing, the cooking, etc.

    Have you read Brene Brown? She’s my new favorite author. I listened to one of her books, narrated by her, and loved her discussions of being whole hearted, shame vs guilt and being vulnerable.

    Best of luck. You rock. My first thought was that I can’t wait to read the modern day Austen retelling that you write, but really I can’t wait to read anything that you write. It’ll be like reading Rainbow Rowell but better, because I knew you back in the day.

  9. Mary says:

    GET. IT. CHRISTINA! So happy for you that 2017 was a learning year and that you know what you want out of 2018. All of your story ideas sound amazing, and I’m rooting for you!
    Mary recently posted…Blog Tour: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie LuMy Profile

  10. I was so happy and inspired to read this post, Christina. Seems we share some of the same confidence issues, especially when it comes to writing. When I was a kid and pre-teen, I’d write all the time – until real life snuck up and I came to feel that I had nothing worth saying, and especially worth writing for someone else to read. I want 2018 to be “my year,” too.

    I hope 2018 is a year of growth and confidence-boosting for you and your writing goals. You write so well on the blog, and I’m sure with practice, editing, lots of your favorite snacks, and some good beta readers, you’ll eventually come up with a finished draft that makes you happy πŸ™‚ I think a 1,000-word goal is reasonable, as someone else suggested, but even if it’s 500 words, it’s progress, and one more page you didn’t have! All the best! πŸ™‚

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