Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Bee What Now?

BHAG is one of those terms you pick up if you attend enough organizational or corporate strategic planning / missioning / visioning / consultants-using-buzzwords-to-justify-their-exorbitant-fees-ing kind of events – can you tell I’ve been to a few? It’s pronounced “Bee Hag” and it stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

It’s what it sounds like, basically: A clear, exciting and ambitious goal that motivates and inspires action.

As you can tell, I have my qualms about strategic planning / missioning / visioning / buzzwording – I’ve been part of good ones that inspired me and made me feel like part of a cohesive team, and I’ve part of bad, contentious ones that literally gave me nightmares – but I like the idea of the BHAG. Also, I’m a sucker for acronyms.

This is a roundabout way of saying that I am setting myself a BHAG.  

It’s Big, it’s Audacious, it’s certainly a Goal, and I expect things could get a bit Hairy.

As some of you know, I have this novel I’ve been working on – I’ve been serializing it more-or-less weekly at Cold Iron Badge as the ongoing prose story “All That Glitters”. It’s set in the same world as the comic, but is about different characters, and takes place in (explicitly) Toronto instead of (implicitly) Vancouver. Having a weekly deadline to meet has been great for my productivity, no doubt about it. But it also means that I’ve been writing on the fly a lot, following my characters around and watching them snark at one another. Which is, to be clear, something I enjoy greatly. But I’m at the stage where the central ideas of the story are becoming more clear, and where I need to take a step back and actually decide what I’m doing.

So, I’ve put the weekly installments on hiatus (replaced with another prose feature that may be even thrilling-er, but is easier and faster to write). And I’ve given myself a BHAG: To actually write this damn novel. In the month of May.

It’s a big goal because it involves a high volume of writing – all the material I’ve written to date for ‘All That Glitters’ amounts to about 15,000 words, and a novel needs to be 75- to 90,000. It’s audacious because, really, that’s a lot of writing to try to cram into a month on my schedule. It’s hairy because this is not the best time for me to be setting myself a big audacious goal; I haven’t been well over the past couple of weeks, and it’s not like I had a surplus of free time even before that.  

There are a lot of reasons this might not work, and I’m not necessarily anticipating success in my BHAGery. That is, I don’t know that I’ll be typing “The End” at 11:55 pm on May 31st. But the point of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal isn’t necessarily to achieve it, at least not in the short term. It’s to inspire and spur action. I’ve made good progress – really good, for me – taking the slow and steady approach with this project. But it’s time to try something different. It’s time to try fast and steady. The worst possible outcome is that I’ll be ahead of where I am now, so I have nothing to lose and rather a lot to gain.

Also, I have decided that there has to be a character in Cold Iron Badge called the Bee Hag. Has to be.

No comments: