Happy 2018! What are your new year’s writing goals? Someone in one of my writers groups asked me, while wishing me a happy 2018. I was shocked to realize I don’t have many. My debut novel launches on January 23 — The Renaissance Club, my time-travel love story, available now on Amazon for pre-order. I have a poetry collection coming out in August — Arabesque, from FutureCycle Press. And I’m finishing the last revision before querying agents and publishers of my new novel, The Romantics. Plus I’m writing a new musical play.
For me, 2018 seems to be all about finishing up big projects and sending them off to sail in wider waters, with new readership and audiences. Do you have a book making its debut in 2018? Maybe your writing goals revolve around book marketing — blogging, doing interviews, giving readings, offering giveaways. These all require a lot of writing. But my big 2018 writing goal is to start writing a new novel.
A rule of thumb for novel book marketing — a rule that I like a lot — is that the best thing you can do for your book is write a new one. If people like your writing, they’ll wnat to buy other books you’ve written. You can include links and excerpts at the end of your published book to your next book. That means because I’ve started querying The Romantics, my 2018 writing goals include working out my next novel, Time’s Wily Thief, a spinoff from The Renaissance Club. All of these novels are set in Italy, the land of beauty, the inescapable land of my imagination.
Perhaps writing a new novel, new play, and always more new poems, is enough. My writing goals for 2018 already seem full, just looking at it that way. And I’m only happy when juggling several large projects, running on overwhelm — so there you have my new year’s writing goals. That didn’t take very long to put down on this virtual paper. And here’s a new year’s poem, for looking back to actual paper as we go forward into a new world.
I open the door and out at the trees
chilly skeletons without their leaves
and look down at the plump new doormat
empty of a Sunday newspaper.
Now I get my news, 104,000 words a day
online, virtually, and after reading a few
sentences, it vanishes at the touch of my finger,
soapy water down the drain.
I send bad actors and disturbing events
away without clogging the landfill,
and like phantoms the stories swirl into nothing,
race like clouds to thin, atomize, and fall away.
Reading on a phone in the dim hours
large stories on a small screen
is economical, gobbling news with eyes hardly open.
But I miss a thin sheet between my fingers
crackling as I turn the large page,
my arms outstretched at the table.
I miss the way my eyes grew large
as continents from reading a few headline stories
some editor in a cramped cubicle
considered worth my urgently knowing—
an explosion in a walnut warehouse
two counties away, the rise of a distant dictator,
and in the back pages, the best new book
anyone had ever written winning
the only award offered this year.
News coming in firsts and onlys,
not the daily tidal wave of information,
with celebrities, must-reads, worst-evers
cramming my inbox with headlines as long
as the old articles.
I’ve lived long enough through an evolution,
as the globe grows healthier, wealthier,
and more informed—and this is small news
of an improving world. It will never headline
your glowing screens because it doesn’t bleed,
but looking back is a worthy Sunday pursuit,
memorializing a simpler time in obits
for an olden age that can’t pass away
too soon, in my book. And yet I miss
the smell of print, the way some reader
leaning against a pyramid
must have missed the scent of parchment.