Writing Career Bingo

I keep looking at this card and wondering what to do with it. Some of the goals require my effort, and some of them are completely out of my hands.

Let me back up a second.

Writer’s Career Bingo — you may have seen these — is a grid with a bunch of different goals on it. It’s 100% customizable, meant to give you a sense of what your accomplishments are and where to go next. I’ve seen a few in excel-spreadsheet form, but it could be some grid-lines on scrap paper.

I borrowed someone else’s as a template, and there was a lot of good stuff on it. First short story publication.  First novel publication. Finish five stories in a year. Get asked for an autograph. Get hate mail. There was even a list of pro markets to get published in. All the goals were arrayed in neat little squares, with magazines in one color font and production goals in another. Once you start achieving each goal, you fill them in. As you progress, you wind up with a beautiful sheet, full of color and achievement.

The only thing that gave me pause was the awards. There was one for the Hugo, the Nebula, the Tiptree, and many others. I’m not sure how to think about winning awards as a goal. On the one hand, it encourages you to keep reading and keep churning out work in order to earn those awards… but on the other, that’s completely out of your hands.

It does feel nice to color in the squares, though. To stop at an oasis of “fuck yeah!” in the midst of the desert.

Don’t get me wrong, the desert has its benefits — it’s where all the buried treasures are, much like the crumbling warehouse, but that’s another story for another day.

For me, if I set a goal, I tie a lot of expectations to it. I expect to work for it, and I expect to cross it off the list. My personal brand of spiritualism is way over on the “god helps those who help themselves” side of the spectrum, and I leave as little up to chance as humanly possible. Awards have nothing to do with me, really. I can spill my guts all over the page, but there’s no guarantee that my work will resonate with someone else. They might not even like it. Again, that’s after I’ve gotten craft and clarity to a point where I can be 80% understood (which I can’t really control, if the reader hasn’t had similar enough experiences to my characters, and can make the leaps of logic that the text does).

And if I’m published (also, somewhat outside my control).

Just gotta keep churning out new work, even if you “don’t” write “that kind of thing” [short stories, novels, novellas, essays, blogs, game designs, screenplays, flash fiction, poetry, outlines for game design, etc.]

I’ve noticed that you can get the feel for certain magazines by reading everything they put out. That’s within your control. There are some that say you can tailor your work to the tastes of the Writers of the Future folks. That’s somewhat within your control. You can study rejectomancy to try and decode what the editor meant when they said no in that particular way. That’s also somewhat within your control.

But awards?

Chuck Wending said it already, in his 2016 blessing. You do you.

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