I've decided that I will join the RNA in January (I've recently had my doubts), but I've had to make a proviso with myself (and it's not going to be easy to stick with it). I'm not going to expect to be well enough to attend the RNA events that I want to :-(.
I'm joining to get the benefit of the critique and that's it. Initially I wanted to attend everything, especially so I could meet other writers in 'real' life, but if I give myself specific expectations I know I'll end up letting myself down. So, the conferences/parties/workshops can wait until another year if they have to. It's the critique I need, and the RNA provide excellent value for money.
I almost talked myself out of joining because for me, the conferences/parties/workshops are what joining is all about. However, a professional critique elsewhere would cost around £150 plus, so joining the RNA makes a lot more sense. I'm also confident that my manuscript will at least be read by somebody familiar with Harlequin Mills & Boon and romance.
Basically what I've also done is taken myself out of the race. Writing isn't a race. Yes, I've harboured my dreams and intermittently worked towards them for over 15 years, but they're not going anywhere. Harlequin Mills & Boon will also still be around. I don't think speed wins the race anyway. It's persistence and determination.
The market has changed since I last submitted in the early '90s. It's even more important to make what you do send polished and well written. It's a worldwide playing field now and competition is fierce. I'm not going to submit my work until I know it's as good as it can be. I'm secure in the knowledge that my aim is to be published with Mills & Boon, so I at least know where I'm going. And, I know I will get there - but when I'm ready and not before.
2007 will also see me resuming my degree studies with the Open University. I've had a year's break. To be truthful, this is what I'm least looking forward to, but it's something I need to do. I'm halfway through my degree and if I don't go back to it now, I'll never go back. And it's important. It's an achievement that I need to do.
The good news is that since I started my degree back in 2003 the OU have added courses in Creative Writing. As well as getting a BA (Honours) in English Language and Literature, I can also get a diploma in English Literature and Creative Writing. So, if I choose to, after I get 2007's Level 3 English course out the way, I can finish the last two years of my degree doing what I love - writing. :-).
In summary, my goals for 2007 so far look like this:
- Work with my health and towards achieving acceptance of my limitations
- Join the RNA in January
- Resume OU studies from February to October - resulting in a Diploma in English Lang
- Have a book written and ready to submit to the RNA by the end of August.
I have other more important goals that will benefit my family as well as myself. My children and Gray will probably be the only people to notice these achievements. But they, along with my faith, will be my priority for 2007.
I'm looking forward to 2007. Even if I don't achieve my ultimate dreams with my writing, I know I'll be well on my way. I'm in it for the long term and I know I'll get there one day.