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Benchmarks and 2013 Goals

There are two very significant challenges I face right now.  The first is a matter of goals; the second is a matter of joy.

I can mark on a calendar when I will turn 50 – March 2, 2034.  That’s a concrete timeframe.  And the actual criteria is concretely defined, because 10,000 is countable.  But how do you set a goal for, "Don't slack off?"  There's no timeframe, there's nothing countable, there's no way to measure the progress.

Secondly, I love movies. Love 'em.  I can't get enough of them.  I've been averaging about 7-9 a week - at that rate, I'd hit 10,000 movies in about 20 - 25 years or so, even if I had to start from scratch.  (Which I'm not. More on that in a bit.)

Which means that I'm setting myself up for failure unless I establish some clear deadlines for myself.

So here goes.  Five deadlines for the next year:

1) By my wedding anniversary (August 5, 2013), I will finish writing the novel I'm currently working on, I Need A Job (around 50,000 words right now).  Anyone feel like reviewing it for me?  (Plot details to come later.)

2) By Halloween (October 31, 2013), I will send queries to at least fifteen agents or publishers to see if anybody is interested in publishing said novel.

3) By Thanksgiving (November 28, 2013), I will finish revising one of my previous novels, A Tale of 100 Stories, which I finished a few years ago and then started to retool a couple years after that and then gave up on, despite the fact that it's actually a really good premise.  I'll tell you about it sometime.

4) By the time I turn 30 (March 2, 2014), if I haven't received at least an encouraging response from a legit agent / publisher, I'm putting at least one of my novels on Amazon's Kindle Store for $1.99 just to say that I've published something.  I expect I'll sell maybe 10 copies total during its release, unless my blog suddenly becomes popular.  Maybe I should post some pictures of my cats.

5) By the time this blog turns one year old (June 17, 2014), I will have finished writing another novel, yet to be determined.  I have like twenty in the pipeline, so I just have to pick one of them.

Now, how to keep score?  Well, in the "Movies" column, we've got Letterboxd, which I'm using to track my movie watching history.  In this respect, it's got a couple of advantages over Netflix, the biggest one being that I can import and export data, and the second one being that it's overall lot more purty-lookin'.

In the "Minutes" column, I've got word counts, shorts I've participated in filming, and this blog.  I probably should've called this blog "Movies or Words," but "Minutes" is catchier.

Both columns have a pretty good head start.  In the Movies column, I've got an estimated 2,500 movies - the actual amount is yet to be determined, as I haven't finished rating them all on Letterboxd yet.  Officially I'm up to 2,100 or so at the time of this writing, but I know I haven't cataloged the rest.

The Minutes column is a little harder to define, because the actual amount that I've created is far less than the amount I want to share.  I have 50,000 words in my current novel, but do I count all the novels that I don't want people to read?  Does it count if I release one of those novels some day "as is" for a quarter?  Does a failed draft of a novel count even if I don't plan to fix it later?

Since the whole point of this blog is to make me accountable for not putting off my writing, and since I called it "Movies or Minutes," I suppose I oughta track the minutes I spend doing productive work.  Every Sunday I'll check in with a "Week in Review" post to summarize the movies I've seen and the time I spent on writing.  Look at that... it almost looks like I actually had a plan for this blog instead of just making it up as I go.

At even just sixty minutes a day - not unreasonable at all - I should wrap up I Need A Job well before the end of July.  In that same amount of time, if I kept watching movies at my normal rate, I'd be at around 2,550 movies (assuming my estimated viewing history is correct).  The smart money's on the movies.  Let's hope not.

I heard somewhere once that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.  Let's assume that I've put an average of two hours a week into my writing since I first started dabbling as a child.  We'll be tough and call it an even 2,000 hours so far, even though I hope the total is significantly higher than that.  By the 10,000 hour standard, I'm barely an amateur.

Will I be an expert by the time I'm 50?