Year-End: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

2015 was definitely a banner year for me.  One of my best writing years in a long time.

I trunked a majority of dead story ideas and created a number of new ones to work on in the future.  That was a big move for me; finally letting go of stories that no longer sang to me, and making the decision not to revive them.  That’s always a tough move for a writer, but it has to be done to clean house, so to speak, to make way for newer and more robust ideas.  By retiring many of these stories, I’ve given myself more room to focus on the new Mendaihu Universe story, as well as others not in that universe.

I was more consistent with my other creative endeavors that aren’t exactly for public consumption (yet):  writing daily journal entries, photography, poetry, artwork, and playing guitar.  Are these ever going to be shared elsewhere?  Who knows…I’m not aiming to be a semipro poet, artist, photographer or musician for the moment, as these are personal and not professional projects.  Things I do purely for selfish enjoyment.  I’m able to push myself and get better at them without having an expected plateau to hit.

I hit one of my highest goals of seeing the trilogy out in the wild by self-releasing A Division of Souls as an e-book (and soon to be available as a trade paperback).   I was also included in Uniquely North Quabbin, a collection of essays about the area of Massachusetts where I grew up.   The trilogy was an extremely long term project for me (spanning over a decade, technically over two), so releasing it has very much given me a sense of closure.  I can finally move on to new projects, both within the MU and elsewhere.


So what does 2016 hold for me?

On the professional end of things, I’ve already made the choice to have at least three books to be self-released next year:  the second and third book of the trilogy, The Persistence of Memories and The Balance of Light; and my memoir/music book Walk in Silence.  I’ve been working on all three since October, just after I released A Division of Souls, so I’m still on schedule to see these come to fruition.  TPoM should arrive early next year, WiS sometime late spring or early summer, and TBoL by autumn.

After that, my writing calendar will be disturbingly, frighteningly clear for the first time in ages.

Which means that I should look for another project to focus on.  If I’ve learned anything from the trilogy project, it’s that I now understand the level of dedication and focus I should give to my writing.  Whatever project comes next will be given that same amount of dedication and focus.

Do I have ideas?  Yes I do!  There’s the new Mendaihu Universe novel that’s currently on pause while I get its related novels out.  This one probably won’t see the public eye until 2017.  Then there’s the musical family idea (aka The Lidwells Story) that’s also on the backburner.  That one’s a compact standalone, and a very rough draft has already been written via my daily words earlier this year, so this one could very well be another quick turnaround.

But other than that?  It’s wide open.  I’m as curious as you are about what I’ll write next.

Speaking of daily words, I’m hoping to return to writing them via the 750 Words website in the new year, especially now that I’ll have more time for them.  This is where many of my recent ideas have arrived on the scene, so I think I’d be remiss in passing it up.  The key is to not be stressed out about it.  The point is not to ensure I write 750 or more words on a daily basis, but to exercise my imagination and have fun with it.

I haven’t updated my whiteboard schedule yet, but I usually end up doing that on January 1, so you’ll see that post tomorrow.  Oh!  And speaking of updates…I plan to have a much tighter and more frequent schedule here at Welcome to Bridgetown as well as Walk in Silence.  Maybe one or two posts a week for starters, but I’d like to expand on that later on.  I’d like to expand on the subjects I write about as well.  As much as I love talking about college radio or how I write, I’d like to investigate different avenues related to writing and music.  Different genres, different processes, that sort of thing.

Other than that, I’m going to revel in the fact that the road looks much clearer than it has in years.  I want 2016 to be the Year of New Things.  I’m really looking forward to where it takes me.

Cellphone’s Dead

My cellphone battery went on the fritz the other day, so for the first time in I’m not sure how long, I haven’t had my cell with me when going out somewhere.  No looking up my book shopping list that I have saved to Dropbox, no checking Twitter while we wait for our food at restaurants, no checking in to Swarm, no reading what few news sites I still actually read with any regularity.  I’ve had to make do with analog diversions such as the local paper or whatever’s playing on the big screen above the tables.  Or, y’know, talking to people.

I was able to enjoy yesterday’s errands without distraction or needing to get somewhere or find something specific.  I spent an hour or so at Green Apple Books (I had a few items to pick up that we’d ordered), did a bit of shopping close by, and stopped at Café La Flore for lunch.  My only entertainment while eating was a writing magazine I’d picked up.

I’ll be honest, I already knew that I’m online way too much.  Working from home, I have my work laptop at one end of my desk, and at the other end of it is my home PC, where I’ll distract myself with some online radio station, my Twitter feed, my email, YouTube, or whatever else might be going on.  I’ve already made a conscious effort to lessen my dependency on social media and newsfeeds, especially when I sense that I’m about to be irritated or annoyed at something currently trending.  Again, it’s the white noise — it tires me out, and I don’t feel like adding to it anymore.  So I’ll close whatever tabs I have open, save the radio station (or my music player), and do something offline.  I’ve also made it a point to use my work breaks for longhand writing, which forces me to cut screen time as well.

Yesterday’s errand-running up Clement Street was definitely a nice diversion, especially since it forced me to think of other ways to distract myself other than via my cellphone.  And more to the point, it was a reminder that being online really is a bit of an addiction, at least for me.   The good thing is that I’m aware of it, that it cuts into my personal time and my writing time, and that I’ve been doing things to combat it.  I make time for things, because I know that in reality, most of the things I want to do don’t take that long at all.  A bit of guitar noodling?  Working on my art?  Writing in my journal?  Writing a poem?  Surely I can afford to take an hour or so out of my day to dedicate to those projects.  Lately, I’ve been noticing just how true that is, once distraction has been taken away.

And without a cellphone (which, let’s be honest, I use mainly to go online, and not to call anyone), I’m finding myself with more time on my hands, connecting to the world in a different way.  It’s slower and there’s less novelty to it, but that’s just fine.  I get to enjoy the Zen-like quality of people-watching and letting my thoughts percolate for a bit.  I get to listen to the world a little more closely.  Overhearing interesting snippets of conversations and pondering what the context may be.  Noticing habits, personal tics, cultural quirks.  Thinking about why people do what they do.  Letting it all enter my memory without having to take pictures of it.  Everything that goes into character development and world building.

Am I going to keep this up, once I finally get my replacement battery?  Who knows.  But for now I’m just going to continue with this acoustic living for a bit longer.  I’ve really come to enjoy it.

Busy, but productive!


Thanks for your patience…I’ve been all kinds of busy doing too many things as of late, but thankfully a handful of said things have been writing related!  To wit:

The line edit of The Persistence of Memories is about halfway done.  This one’s taking a bit longer than expected, but I hope to get this one out sometime early in the new year.  It’s a bit longer than ADoS, but it’s actually shorter than it once was thanks to some heavy editing.

The cover for The Persistence of Memories is still in debate phase.  So many cover ideas, but none are gelling just yet!  The three books have a color theme:  ADoS was to indicate late evening, thus the city glow.  TPoM is to have a much darker cover, signifying past-midnight; The Balance of Light is to be brighter than the other two, signifying morning.  I’ll have a few outtakes for you in the new year once I have more of a solid idea!

The physical book for A Division of Souls should be ready by January.  This one’s been tough, as I had to wait for A. to finish reading and suggest any edits, plus there’s a lot of weird formatting bits that I had to work my way through.  Thankfully I’ve figured them out, so at this point it’s a matter of doing the edits and uploading to KDP.  As an aside, the new (non-format) edits will also make their way to the e-book as well for consistency.

Longhand work on Walk in Silence continues apace, a few pages at a time.  Okay, this one has morphed so many times since its inception quite some years ago, but I’ve finally got it anchored.  This version is most likely the latest and last version.  It’s not exactly the nonfic book about 80s college radio that I’d originally envisioned (that may be a future book), but that music is still the main backbone.  It’s now become a memoir of sorts.

The new (still as yet untitled) Mendaihu Universe story got a reread recently.  It’s got some really good ideas, but it’s still very spotty.  Once I’m caught up with all my other projects, this one gets shotgun.


So yeah…all this on top of the usual fourth quarter Day Job silliness and other personal events going on.  It’s slow going, but I’m getting there! 🙂