Work, Work, Work

The New Year is starting with promise.

At the moment I’ve got two contracts in progress, one on the verge of signing and the other under discussion. One’s a reprint, but the other is something I’m rather excited about and I look forward to being able to talk about it. It will also be nice to have solid deadlines again.

I’ve still got the Powerless work-in-progress rewrites to turn in. They’re a little more extensive than I expected because I’ve excised entire pages and need to pad out a few others. I’ll be begging a publisher’s patience as a result, but the book will be better for it. If it works out, I imagine I’ll have a deadline for it shortly.

It’s tough to say whether any of these projects will actually see print in 2009, but I think there’s a good chance at least one will. If it only lines things up for 2010, then so be it; I’ve been patient this long, I can be patient a bit longer.

When people ask, I often tell them yes, I’d like to write full time. Ideally I’d make enough that the Wife wouldn’t have to work, but I’d be satisfied at least with not having to piss around with stubborn computers all day. So far it’s just been a dream.

We’ve been discussing dreams in karate class. The problem with dreams is they’re too loose. Most people think “Gee it’d be nice if…” without actually putting any real effort — or at least constructive effort — into the dream. How do we change it? We turn the dream into a goal, the primary difference being a deadline.

Put a realistic deadline on a dream and you’ve got yourself a goal: a clear vision of what you want and when you will attain it. I’ve had a goal in mind for my black belt for some time now, but it dawned on me that I’ve never put a real deadline on the dream of writing full time. Sure, I’ve got some good publishing credits and I work on this project and that, but I have to admit it’s been rather haphazard the last few years.

I believe the next step we’ll be discussing in class is how to develop an action plan toward reaching those goals. The action plan for reaching black belt is rather simple because the curriculum for most styles is laid out before us. I know what I need to do to make yellow belt, to make blue belt, to make green, then purple, then progress through three steps of brown. Each belt is broken into three segments, and I know what I have to learn every step of the way, and I’ve been able to discuss a realistic goal for my black belt test.

At first I thought it’s not so simple for writing, but is that true? I may not be able to rattle off a list of titles to publish over the next few years, and I do of course have to get said titles accepted by publishers, but there’s nothing that says I can’t put together a list of items I want to complete. For example, I could say I’ll finish one novel, one novella, and one comic mini-series or graphic novel this year. Getting them into print would be a separate, ongoing task for each piece.

How do you achieve those smaller individual goals? It’s quite simple, really: do the work. How do you earn each stripe and belt in karate? Learn the material. Show up for class and practice at home. Learn the kata and drill them, learn the ippons and drill them, and so on. What’s the difference between a white belt and a black belt? A black belt never quit.

The same goes for writing. How do you get each project done? Do the work. Finish each piece and move on to the next. What’s the difference between a wannabe and a full-time writer? A full-time writer never quit.

In other words, keep your damn fingers on the keys!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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