Four more entries to go in 2018, so I thought I’d do a bit of an overview of things I’ve been doing or thinking about over the course of the year, building up to my new writing plans for 2019.
It’s been a hell of a busy year. I did that by design, to be honest, and I’m glad I went through with it. It proved a lot of different things:
–I can multitask. I wrote two novels in tandem this year, using two different sign-ons at 750Words. One during work breaks and one in the evening. Both are roughly 75k words, which is actually quite economic for me, and I think a better word count goal. Out of this I learned to be more concise with my writing.
–I self-published a completely new novel that had nothing to do with any years-long project, proving that I can reach a quick deadline and turnaround.
–Writing four blog entries a week, with only the occasional fly-by or short hiatus. Some days it was hard to come up with a subject to write about, but I think I pulled it off for the most part.
–Writing some new(ish) melodies on my guitar and recording demos for them for future Drunken Owl projects. Continuing to expand my guitar playing by learning new styles and reaching for different moods.
–Taking better care of myself healthwise. I’ve lost a bit of weight, especially over the last few months since I’ve started doing morning exercises, and being or proactive about heading to the gym a few days a week, or going for walks in the neighborhood. Eating healthier, cutting down on the snacking and the junk food.
…and all of this while still holding down a Day Job. There’s been a bit of temporary shake-up there as well as a ridiculously long stretch of time dealing with unnaturally heavy volume of work, which only recently has started to decrease.
I don’t feel exhausted, far from it. I’ll have my days where I just want to say hell with it, log off and take a nap, sure, but for the most part, I’m impressed that I got through it all with only one or two sick days the entire time. I actually like to keep busy with multiple things going on, as it keeps me occupied, preoccupied, and creative. (It’s only when it’s too busy that I start getting cranky and sloppy.)
Which is partly why I’ve decided to take 2019 a little bit easier, at least for the first six months. Cut back on the multiple projects, finish off the ones I’m working on, and give myself some time to enjoy nonwriting endeavors like art and music. I’ll go into a bit more on those future plans for the last post of the year, but for now I’m just glad to say I’m proud of all the work I did this year, and I’m definitely looking forward to giving myself a break from it!
This has been quite a long year, hasn’t it? So many things going on in the world. Half the time I’m trying to keep a sane distance so I can process it all clearly and intelligently, and half the time I realize I’m doing all I can to keep my head above water.
But I’ve been trying to stay positive. Even when we have people in “charge” (I say this lightly) doing all they can to obliterate the rules and exclude a portion of their constituents out of legal existence, I’ve been trying to be a positive anchor, even if it’s just for myself. Someone’s got to be.
BUT! It’s been an interesting and quite creative year here in Spare Oom. I had quite the productive 2018, which was unexpected but pleasing. I made good on my plan of releasing one e-book a year, with Meet the Lidwells! dropping in early March. I wrote and completed not one but TWO books this year (In My Blue World and the Apartment Complex project) that will be dropping in 2019. I recorded at least twenty partial demos of songs for my Drunken Owl project, and hope to work on more next year. And I made more of an effort to write more lyrics and poetry again. And I’ve been quite verbose in the personal journal this year. I stayed pretty consistent with my daily words over at 750Words. Lastly, I had quite a consistent run both here at Welcome to Bridgetown and over at Walk in Silence. So yeah, a hell of a lot of writing this year. I’m stupidly proud of myself for that.
So what’s on tap for 2019? I’ve hinted here multiple times that I’m going to make some big changes across the board, both personally and creatively. After years of having Best Laid Plans that I couldn’t always follow through with, I find that I’m now in a good place to make a lot of them finally happen. A few personal events helped force me to look at them in a different, more serious and better planned light. Will they fall through or will they come to fruition? Who knows, but I can only hope it’s the latter. I’m already taking steps to ensure they work. Let’s just say that when they come to fruition, I will update accordingly, heh.
Overall, 2018 has been one hell of a roller coaster and I’m glad it’s winding down (sort of). Here’s to hoping 2019 provides a little more sanity!
It’s been an interesting year, I’ll say that much. Personally we’ve all had one hell of a bumpy ride. I’ve certainly had my highs and lows. And somehow I persevered.
Anyway, looking back over the past twelve months, I’m proud to say I went a hell of a lot further in my writing career than I ever thought I would. A project that I started in all seriousness twenty years ago was finally signed off as complete. I started not one but two completely new projects and sowed the seed for even more ideas. I kept a solid blogging schedule. I took part in panels on two different local science fiction conventions. All while still holding a Day Job.
—The Balance of Light e-book and trade release, and completing a long-term project. That was the toughest of the three to revise, so it took me most of 2016 and early 2017 to finish. Even the cover was a bear to get right. But at the same time, overcoming the hurdles I faced on this one made me an even better writer; it taught me to take all the time I needed to get it right before I released it upon the world. It was worth the wait, as that book went from the Troublemaker for a good few years to a novel I’m proud of. And added to that, it truly did feel like a weight lifted off my shoulders when I realized I did not need to work on that project any longer. I still miss it, of course, but I’m definitely glad it’s done. Most importantly, I saw a very long-standing goal to its conclusion and I couldn’t be happier.
–Daily words at 750words.com. I’ve been quite consistent with this as well, much more so than previous years. I trained myself to use this site as a place for playing around with ideas instead of trying to force myself to use prompts (suggested or otherwise). I just went with whatever popped into mind. In 2015 and 2016 I used it to write an extremely rough and incomplete draft of Meet the Lidwells, and in 2017 I used it to plot out most of the project after that. I’ve taken this month off from it for various reasons, but I’ll be picking it up again come January.
—Meet the Lidwells! This one surpassed all of my expectations, to be honest…so much so that I spent the first half of the project questioning whether or not I was doing it right! This project hit a lot of goals: writing a complete outline ahead of time, writing a shorter novel, writing a story that had a personal connection (music), and writing in a minimal amount of time. Because of this I have a minimal amount of post-writing work to do: some minor revision, shooting the cover picture, and prepping it for self-publication. Quite possibly the shortest novel project I’ve had to date.
–Untitled ‘Apartment Complex’ story. Having written out a few key scenes and plot ideas for this story using 750Words, I’m now working on the outline in the same manner that I did MtL. That way when MtL drops, I can immediately focus on writing this one. This too has goals: to see if I can pull off ‘writing econo’ again. I’m using the same process as the previous project, to the extent that I’ll play around with ideas on the project after this one for my daily words.
–Consistent blogging. I wrote two different blogs twice a week for nearly the whole year, with very few lapses. There were moments when it was tough, given that I always wanted to write something of interest and/or purpose, and did my best to avoid the fly-by entries as much as I could. I also wanted to avoid repeating myself whenever possible; I’ll totally cop to writing the same damn nostalgia piece over and over, and I’m doing my best to break out of that rut. And in the process, I’m learning how to expand my palette by expanding my interests.
–Participating in Convention Panels. This was another big one for me. I’ve gone to a number of cons over the years but always as an audience member, but never as a participant. After releasing my books I knew that this would be a great way for me to get connected to the non-writing part of the business. [Mind you, my very first panel was a reading, which went over well but I think could have been better. Once I got past that first one, the jitters were no longer there.] In 2018 I’ll be attending three more cons, and I’ve signed up as a participant at all three.
All told, I’m ecstatic with what I achieved as a writer in 2017. It was an extremely productive and fruitful beginning to my career as a professional self-publisher. There are some goals I wish I’d have hit, but I’m not going to let that bother me. I’m definitely looking forward to reaching those plus many new ones.
This is what happens when I’m trying to balance a superbusy Day Job (woohoo yay Q4…), editing a mammoth book, bingewatching the Great British Bake Off with A., and other life stuff. The last thing on my mind is usually what day it actually is.
My week has been filled with numerous small Day Job queries that definitely pile up and get really irritating after a short time, as well as a computer refresh, which for the most part only took about an hour, but I spent the rest of the day fending of more small queries while trying to get said new computer’s software correctly set up. [Noted, a lot of these queries are what you would expect at the end of Q4…lots of “I need this yesterday btw on vacation until 1/4 kthxbye”, lots of “OMGWTFBBQ I need this delivered on Monday but the file isn’t here yet what do I do O NOES” and so on. Your bad planning is not necessarily my problem, folks.] The good thing is that the last week of the year is often the slowest for us, so that’ll give me time to finish things up and maybe have some time to breathe and more things sorted out.
What about the writing stuff, you ask? Well, yes, I am still plugging along with the edit of Book 3. I’m closing in on the halfway point, so despite my feeling that THIS IS TAKING FOREVER, I’m actually making good time. I’m still on schedule for a January release. Yay! Then we’ll have a few other Mendaihu Universe-related surprises coming in the spring of 2017, and then we’ll see where we go from there.
So now what? What am I going to do on this upcoming last week of the year? That’s a good question. I’ve already written my wistful Year End/Year to Come post earlier this week, so I don’t need to do one of those. We shall see!
Until then, hope everyone has a lovely Christmas weekend!
Most of the time was spent focusing on releasing the first edition of The Persistence of Memories as well as cleaning up and releasing the next edition of A Division of Souls. And once those were taken care of, I focused solely on the Big Galley Edit of The Balance of Light. As of today I am about one third of the way through transcribing my manual edits to the digital document, which will then be formatted to both e-book and trade paperback.
[Side note: I’m worried that TBoL is still going to be quite a long book, so while it’s going to remain a single e-book, I may have to split it up into two trades just to keep the price and size down. More on that when I get closer to finishing this portion of the project.]
The Persistence of Memories had an official drop date of 15 April of this year, about six months after the first book. I haven’t nailed down a specific release date for The Balance of Light yet, but again, the closer we get to the end of this edit, quicker I’ll be able to do so.
All that said, I had to make do without a few other projects in the interim. I put aside any actual work on future Mendaihu Universe books until this one was finished. I also put aside any non-MU ideas that have been brewing; I haven’t trunked them, they’re just on hiatus. In addition to that, I’d also put a temporary stop on my Daily 750 Words exercises. I wanted to clear my desk and get rid of any extraneous assignments and deadlines so I could focus completely on finishing the Bridgetown Trilogy.
The unprecedented decision, however, was to stop writing poetry. I’d come to the realization that it had stopped being something useful to me some time ago. I’d used poetry as a personal experiment for a good few decades: a creative release for my personal dreams, irritations, ponderings, or whatever. But it hadn’t been that for at least two or three years; it has become less of an outlet and more of a chore, and thus less enjoyable. So I wrote one last long poem, closed that composition notebook, and filed it away. I haven’t written one since. Will I ever pick it up again? Who knows. Maybe, but I think I’d need to put some real thought and dedication into that form and do it right this time, instead of the way I used to write it.
So. What’s up for 2017, then?
Aside from releasing The Balance of Light sometime in the early months, who knows. It’ll be the first time in decades where the Mendaihu Universe (and in particular, these three books) won’t be weighing down on me. The slate will be fully clean. For the first time in a LONG time, I’ll be able to fully focus on a completely new project.
I’ll be able to start in on one or more of those Possible Ideas I have on hiatus. A few more stories in the Mendaihu Universe, for starters. I don’t have any concrete plans at the moment, where New Projects are concerned, but once I’m ready, I’ll be planning like a fiend.
I would also like to return to the Daily 750 exercise again. Over the past couple of years it has been a great Word Playground for me, and at least three possible future novel project ideas have come out of it. And of course, I’d like to return to a stable blogging schedule. Those things go out the window for everyone at the end of the year, so I’m not beating myself up too much over them not being timely. Come next year, however, I’m going to make the best effort to stick to it.
I’d also like to practice more on my book cover artwork. As I keep saying, doing the covers for my Trilogy was an unexpected joy for me, to the point that I could see myself doing cover art as a possible career step.
I do have some Big Plans regarding the business side of my writing career. In the next year I’ll be making some very big, very important steps towards raising the bar. [Yes, I know, that’s a business-speak phrase and I can’t stand that kind of talk, but it fits the situation.] I don’t want to share them just yet, but I’ve been thinking about them and planning them in my head for at least a few years now. I’d promised myself that 2017 would be the year they will become a reality. I’ve started giving myself a soft schedule to work with, and will soon be spending some offline time making this business plan work.
And yes, as soon as I’m ready to release these Big Plans upon the world, I’ll let you know!
All told, I think 2016 has been a stellar year for me, creatively. One of the best I’ve ever had. That’s not to say I wish I’d spent more time and dedication learning how to best sell my creative wares online and make money off it, but I’ve certainly reached goals that have been on my bucket list since I was at least ten years old. I’ve rarely looked at my sales numbers, but I’m not taking them too seriously for the moment. I scored a good number of downloads of both books during a month-long sale on Smashwords — a LOT more than I expected to get, to be honest — and while I earned no money, the fact that I did get that many hits meant quite a bit to me. It meant that I was doing something right. It meant I was closer to my goals as a professional author than I’d expected. I now know where I stand, what direction I should head in, and what to expect when I get there.
Which means that 2017 will be the year I step up my game and start making money off of the Dream Job I’ve always wanted since I was a kid.
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.