Friday, December 28, 2012

That What Got Done

            Well, it’s the end of the year.  Time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions and all the things we really want to make sure we do this coming year.  And to celebrate the fact that 2012 was not, in fact, the end of the world.
            However, it’s also a good time to look back and think about what we did this year.  Did last year’s resolutions get met?  Did we get close?
            Did we even really try?
            I started off the year working for Amazon Studios, the film branch of the well-known online media giant.  I had a meeting and did a treatment for a sci-fi film called Original Soldiers they were trying to develop.  It was pretty clear early on that we had different opinions on it, but they decided to see what I did with it anyway (I saw Liam Neeson in a glorious B-action movie and they thought they could get... I don’t know, Schindler’s Robot).  They still went with someone else (or possible, as my girlfriend supects, just canned the project when they didn’t see a potential Oscar anywhere), but they paid very well for the work I did.
            After that it was diving back into Ex-Communication, which I’d only barely started.  That was a good chunk of the year (I think until late August or early September).  The final, sixth draft came in at a little over 100,000 words. And I’ll be doing some more work on it before the Crown release.
           It’s about time to mention Crown, too.  As some of you may have heard, I was offered a four book deal with Crown Publishing, a division of Random House, for the Ex-series just as I was finishing up Ex-Communication.  While it’s great on one front, it did sort of put me on hold for a while as far as “what to write next.”  If the deal happened, Crown was going to want another Ex-book.  If it didn’t happen, well, I usually wrote something non-superhero-and-zombie related between Ex-books as sort of a palate cleanser.  So there was a period of about two months this fall where I wasn’t really sure what to start working on.
            I ended up going back to a sci-fi horror idea I’d started ages ago (before my Crusoe mash-up) and doing a fair amount of work on that.  But then some things shifted, negotiations hit a certain point, and I shelved it again.  Alas, at this point I think I can honestly say Dead Moon has become my booty call idea.  I should keep that in mind next time it’s late at night and I’m feeling the need to poke at something...
            For a couple of reasons, I shifted over to an idea that had been tickling my mind, a concept for a new series.  After a false start, I ended up scribbling out almost 15,000 words of notes and outlines and huge swaths of action and dialogue.  I stopped because I didn’t want to burn out on it, and also because the Crown deal was finalized.
            So, right around Halloween, I started working on the fourth Ex-book.  Still working on a title for it, but the book itself is about 2/3 done by now.  I think I might actually be on schedule for the April 1st deadline.
            I also had to do a bunch of layout stuff and edits for the new editions of the Ex-books.  It wasn’t tough, but it is time-consuming. And there’s more of it coming in January.
            I also managed to squeeze in about ten reviews for Cinema Blend here and there.  I enjoy writing reviews because when they’re done right they’re a good mix of critical analysis, storytelling, and a bit of snark (when deserved).  Which reminds me, I still owe them a review for this box set...
            And of course, here on the ranty blog I scribbled out forty-four articles about writing.  In all fairness, this is one of the weakest years here since I started this.  Plus thirty-three articles on another page I keep up.  And those H.P. Legocraft pages.
            So that’s what I did.
            What did you do?
            Yeah, I know, I’ve got a bit of an advantage.  I don’t have kids.  This is my day job.  So I get to focus a lot more time on this than most people.
            But y’know what?  I had a full-time journalism job when I wrote Ex-Heroes. Almost all of my fellow authors at Permuted Press—Craig DiLouie, C Dulaney, Tony Faville, Jessica Meigs, Thom Brannan, and more—still have full time jobs.  Michael Crichton started writing when he was in medical school.  You don’t get much more full-time than that.  Edgar Rice Burroughs, Maya Angelou, John Grisham, David Wong, Clive Cussler, Stephen King... all these famous writers and many, many more had full-time jobs when they started their writing careers.  Heck, King had a full-time job and two kids.
            So, with that in mind... I ask you again.  What did you do this year?
            As I’ve mentioned before, it all comes down to priorities.  If I want to spend a few hours each day with my (hypothetical) kids or watching Netflix with my lovely lady, that’s my business and my decision.  It says where my priorities are and there's nothing wrong with that.  Likewise, the fact that my lovely lady and I live together, both work out of the home, and only see each other for a total of four or five hours a day on an average day... well, that says something about our priorities, too.
            A fellow I know got the screenplay rights to a fairly well-known book series.  It was at the same time I was starting a novel, so I jokingly said we should make a contest out of it.  He kind of brushed me off, but loudly announced his upcoming adaptation to the Twitterverse.
            The book I was starting was 14.  To the best of my knowledge, he still doesn’t have a first draft of his adaptation.  Granted, he’s trying to start a business and has two kids.  And there were a lot of movies he had to see.  And some opening night parties.  And a bi-weekly poker game he never misses...
            The only way to get ahead is to write.  There is nothing else. There are no tricks or magic bullets.  The work will not get done if you don’t do it.  It doesn’t matter how you spin it, if you’re not writing, you’re not getting any closer to selling something.  And if you’re not selling anything, it’s really hard to make a living at this.
            Which is why you’re here, yes?  To get some tips on making a living at this.
            A page a day.  That’s it. That’s all you need to do.  If you can write a page a day, you’ll have a solid draft of a novel by next New Year’s Eve.  You could have the first draft of that script done by April Fools Day.
            If you write it.
            But if the latest episode of Dexter or Dancing With The Stars deserves your time more than writing... well...
            Next time—or next year, if you prefer—I’d like to go over what this little collection of rants is trying to accomplish.
            Until then, pour yourself a glass of champagne, kiss someone special, and then go write.
            Just write one page.

2 comments:

  1. I also have no kids, but a very supporting wife.
    this year i brewed 199.9 gallons of wine and beer
    fermented and dry cured ~120 pound of various salami
    brined and cold smoked ~150 pounds of bacon
    fermented 2 gallons of hot sauce
    lovingly tended 6 beehives that gave me no honey because of the drought.
    had 10 terrible hangovers
    caught lots and lots of fish
    scratched many dogs heads
    and wrote and self published my first novel!
    all of this with a full-time job.
    not a bad 2012

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  2. I've always thought that picture of Stealth makes it look like she has grey bunny ears instead of a hood.

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