Tag Archives: goals


I did it. The next book in the Famiglia series, currently titled On the Heat, is now complete.

Well, the first draft is complete. There’s still a ton of work to do before I’ll even give it to anyone else to read — at the very least, it needs to be typed up. But there it is, in real live ink. 523 pages of first draft.

Feels pretty good.

I was pretty disappointed on Friday when I knew I would have no way to finish the book. But that’s all gone now. And one of the reasons is what I started to talk about, or tried to start to talk about, in my last post. It’s not just about making or missing goals; it’s about setting goals in the first place.

I’m lucky to have some people in my life who help me do that. My wife is the one who first said I could and should write a novel, and the one who tells me to keep writing. She’s one of the best reasons I have to pick up the pen at all.

And I have a friend — who’s also a writing coach as it happens — who’s constantly pushing me to set goals and make them. Seriously, if you’re feeling under-energized and don’t know how to get moving on your next project, consider using her services. It’s amazing what some well-placed advice and encouragement can do.

Anyhow, it’s a big milestone, but it’s only one in a series of milestones. There’s lots of work to do on this book, and in the meantime I have more books to write. And already I’m itching to buy the next notebook and starting to fill that one too.

But for tonight… things are all right.


Today is my birthday.

Normally birthdays are a mix of good and bad, for me. People send you e-mails and write all over your facebook wall, you get to go out for dinner, you get cake. I don’t eat a lot of cake for most of the year but it’s nice to have a reason to indulge.

This year, my birthday includes a bit of disappointment. It’s my own fault. I set a goal on my birthday and I’m not going to achieve it. The goal was to finish my next novel, tentatively titled On the Heat.

I got close, though. Early last December, I decided to pick up the pace of the writing — I was around 20,000 words in by then, I think.¬†Things started moving very quickly and by the end of the year I hit the 30,000 word mark. The novel was hitting its stride and I was very optimistic. I figured the novel would be around 75,000 words long at the end, which was a good 10,000 words longer than the first in the series, La Famiglia. At the rate I was moving, it would be done by the late spring. I set the target at my birthday — six and a half months away.

The winter and spring were productive; I would write about 2,000 words a week, working an hour a day three times a week or so, plus one or two hours each weekend. I write around 500 words an hour, so that put me at 2,000 words a week, a very good clip. In addition, my wife and I went away for a weekend in February and I got 10,000 words written from Friday evening to Sunday evening. I reset the goal to July 1, then to June 1, as the finished pages piled up.

But the goal kept moving. I have a number of problems with plot and pacing, and my approach to resolving them was to write all the stuff that needed to happen, whether it was in exactly the right place or not. That meant more words; I blew through the 75,000 word mark, I think, sometime in April, in a period of unemployment. I hit 90,000 before June, although my output slowed again as I started a new job. I’m expecting the finished product to be around 100,000 words.

And I’m so close! I am on the last chapter (though there will be a short epilogue chapter as well). I’m into the last scene. There are about 5 pages left. And I didn’t quite get there.

Well, what are goals for, anyway? If I hadn’t been shooting for June, I probably wouldn’t have pushed so hard during the winter. If I hadn’t been trying to finish by yesterday, I would probably still be two or three chapters from the end at this point.

So I’m not so worried about missing my goal — I’m just going to get as close as I can. I’m very, very close already. I’d better get some champagne ready, just in case…