Putting Your Goals Down: Figuring Out The “Next One”

2021 had a big of a disappointment for me. I spent two to three months working on a project that I felt would show how I had grown as a writer. It was based on previous mistakes and rewrites. The project still got a rejection, and it hurt more than previous rejections. I thought I had done something decent, that one could work with it. Instead of moving up, I ended up hitting a plateau. Currently, I’m still at that plateau, hanging a bit. On the one hand, there is stable ground under me, and the advice to take the opportunity to grow. On the other, I’d rather be climbing higher to reach my goals. 

Then the movie Tick Tick, Boom! came out, in the middle of my funk. It is a biopic based on the musical about Jonathan Larson, composer of Rent. Jon was one in the same spot. He was hitting thirty and hoping to reach his dreams by then. He has a great show in the works, about a dystopian future where people are glued to screens and competing for fame. The rat race tears apart loved ones as they talk about the Face Awards, while everyone wants to be on the air. (Gee, that sounds familiar.)

Jon doesn’t get the green light for his show, despite an impressive workshop and a showstopper number. His agent breaks the news to him gently that the investors want to see his next work because Superbia is too expensive to make at the moment and is too obscure as a science fiction play. Rosa advises that the next thing to do is start a new project, and prepare to keep writing. She also tells him to write what he knows, rather than aim for the next great work. He was trying too hard to make a sweeping statement about humanity, rather than aiming for the human heart. Jon listens and does a play about his life as the next project. 

I don’t know what the next one will be exactly; in fact, several trusted friends and mentors have advised that maybe taking a break will be a good idea, to step back and go back to learning about writing. It means reviewing the books, the lessons, and some new material that is out there in the world. I think I have to because when you’re on a plateau, it means you may lack the tools to climb. 

That doesn’t mean I will stop writing fiction. It means, however, that I won’t be rushing to get fiction out at a rapid pace. Instead, I’ll be studying the basics and the flow of language. Consistency is my weakness. So I need to become more consistent. 

I’m not putting my goals here. That’s three pages’ worth. What I will be doing, however, is making a commitment to myself: don’t be afraid of the next one. More importantly, don’t be afraid to slow down.