Goal Setting (Literally)

I just wanted to give a shout-out to this wee book, Goal Setting (Literally), from Brain Jar’s Writer Chaps series (you can get it in ebook form or hard copy – and Brain Jar Press generally prints in your country so the postal costs are not huuuuuuuge).

Lee Murray has pulled together some very good, very succinct advice for writers at every point in their career. Lee was kind enough to answer some of my questions …

  1. What can you tell us about Goal Setting (Literally): A Writer’s Guide?

I can tell you that I wrote this little chapbook in a strange ‘break’ between variants, when New Zealanders were able to travel and meet with friends. We went to Matamata (the Hobbits’ hometown for international readers) to a fabulous, rented farmhouse, ten speculative writer colleagues from all over the country gathering for a long-awaited writing retreat. It was idyllic. We walked up a mountain, sat around a campfire, ate too much, talked a lot, and in between we set down some words. And because writing retreats are all about reconnecting with like-minded people, about refreshing the well and asking where-to-from-here, I was thinking again about my own writing goals and my personal next steps. And as I listened to the conversations going on around me, it occurred to me that other writers might find my goal setting process useful. And that’s how Goal Setting (Literally) came about. Then the wonderful team at Australia’s Brain Jar Press came along and created the perfect little pocket-sized book that you can slip into your bag (or your pocket!), so you can remind yourself of those goals anywhere. I couldn’t be happier.

  1. How has your own career fed into the writing of this chapbook?

This book is entirely based on my own writing career and the steps I took to become the writer I am today. Of course, I can only tell people what has worked (and not worked) for me, and everyone’s experience will be different, but I hope writers will find something of value in it. The goal setting exercises take less than an hour, but it just could be the most useful hour a writer spends all year.

  1. What are the three big takeaways for writers from Goal Setting?

Three takeaways:

  • Success can look different, depending on where you are in your writing career and your personal motivation for writing.
  • Goals change, so flexibility is key.
  • I include a simple shortcut to help writers make rapid decisions about which tasks and projects to pursue in order to achieve their goals. We all like shortcuts, right?
  1. What inspires you as a writer?

Lately, looking at what’s happening around the globe—war, environmental disasters, food shortages, lack of healthcare, persecution, otherness—I’m finding fear and fury are great motivators. There’ s plenty to mine through prose, poetry, and essay. Speculative futures are closer than we think.

  1. What’s next for Lee Murray?

I’m excited for the February 2023 release of Unquiet Spirits: Essays by Asian Women in Horror (co-edited with Angela Yuriko Smith, foreword by Lisa Kröger) which is exactly what it says on the box but is so so much more than that. The book picks up from my Bram Stoker Award-winning titles Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, and Tortured Willows: Bent, Bowed, Unbroken, but rather than short stories or poetry, it includes 21 ‘messays’ from women of Asian descent, this time addressing the role of spirits and the supernatural in their lives. The result is wonderful and unexpected. I couldn’t be prouder. The messay format provides writers with a lot of freedom: it’s a meandering personal storytelling form, which draws on academic and popular sources as well as fiction and poetry excerpts to create richly woven narratives, full of nuance and candour. I can’t wait to share this empowering book with the world.

Lately, I’ve been working on several scripts. One of my goals over the past year has been expand my knowledge of scriptwriting. Happily, not only have I been fortunate enough to be involved in co-writing a horror feature script (based on someone else’s story idea) which will go into production next year, I have also had my head down writing the script for Hounds of the Underworld together with my Kiwi partner in darkness, co-author Dan Rabarts. Over the years since the Path of Ra series release, we’ve received a number of queries about film rights, so we’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and adapt the works ourselves. It’s great to be working with Dan again, and with characters we both know and love. Of course, film projects are even slower than publishing projects to come to fruition, so my newest goal should probably be a course in patience…

Lee Murray is a writer, editor, screenwriter, and poet from Aotearoa-New Zealand. She is a four-time Bram Stoker Awards® winner, Shirley Jackson Award winner, and a USA Today Bestselling author. Read more at  https://www.leemurray.info/

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