So, without further delay, here's what I'm aiming for in 2018:
- Connect with other writers. I learned in Hawaii how important it is to find a local group of friendly writers who I can meet up with, or at least talk to over the phone, about writing stuff. It's a different conversation than what you'd have with someone who isn't a writer. I get energized by these conversations and usually come away from them with new ideas and new confidence, feeling reassured that I haven't made a huge mistake by going freelance.
- Attend a writing conference. Three years on The Island made it really hard for me to travel to any writing conferences on the mainland. I tried and tried to organize local events, and some of them turned out to be pretty cool (check out the Hawaii Science Writers Association website if you want to read more about those field trips). But I didn't really get a lot of CWE (continuing writers education) while I was there. That's what conferences and workshops are for. So, I'm planning to go to a conference in Alabama soon to meet other members of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (of which I'm a member). Maybe -- if I'm lucky! -- I'll meet some people there who also happen to live in my new area. And if I'm REALLY lucky, I'll come away from that meeting ready to tackle my next goal, listed below...
- Start a fiction manuscript. I've been writing nonfiction books for a couple of years now, and I can confidently say that this is a really good fit for my life and interests at this stage of my career. I like having more time to work on the manuscript. And I love having something so substantial at the end, once it's published. The next step is to pitch my own book idea. It's terrifying, but it's also been on my mind for at least 2 years, so I've got to stop fretting and just start DOING something with it. So that's my big, scary goal for 2018. Wish me luck!