Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Is Over. Finally.

            I don’t know about you, but this year has been kind of brutal on me.  We don’t even need to bring up politics or innumerable dead entertainment icons.  It’s sucked.  I lost my grandma.  Two friends.  One of my cats.  Hell, even the car I’ve had since I was twenty-seven and working on Silk Stalkings.  
           All dead.
           Screw this year.  Screw 2016.  And I’m only saying “screw” so this page doesn’t get banned from your work server.  I’ve been a lot more emphatic in real life.
            But, anyway... let’s talk about writing.
            At the beginning of every year I toss out some encouragement and ideas about writing. And throughout the year, I jab you pretty much every post with a gentle reminder to go write.  Because that’s the only way this happens. We sit down and we write.
            So... what did you write this year?
            I’ll go first.
            Well, let’s be honest.  The vast majority of this year was spent on Paradox Bound (which most of you will get to read in about... seven months?). I turned in a really wild, scattered draft to my editor (I can admit it), and he politely handed it back and said “try harder.”  Which made me take a long, hard look at a lot of it, rip out a large part of the ending and restructure it, which also meant going back and reworking a fair amount of the beginning.
            But in the end... I’m really proud of how this has turned out. I think you’re going to like it a lot.
            Between drafts, I also finally finished (and submitted) a little story called “Projekt: Maria” for an anthology titled Mech.  That should be out early next year, I believe.  If you read Kaiju Rising a while back, this story is another World War II adventure with Kraft and Carter trying to counter the latest weird and unusual Nazi plot.
            Plus, I’ve done a bunch of work on my next big project (no real title yet—well, not one I’m up for sharing).  And a lot of notes and bits on the next Ex-Heroes book (currently called Ex-Tension).  And I scribbled some notes and pitches for some things... well, that I can’t really talk about quite yet.
            And, hey, this is the 46th ranty blog post this year.  Granted, a handful of those were photo tips, but still... that’s a fairly regular output there. I mean, I’m no Chuck Wendig or Scalzi, but I think that’s a respectable number.  I even managed a couple over on my geeky blog, too... although nowhere near as many as I'd wanted to.
            What else did I do with my time?
            Well, if I’m counting right, I read about thirty-eight new books this year. By which I mean, books I’d never read before.  About half a dozen of them non-fiction. 
            There were also another twenty or so books I re-read, either for reference or enjoyment.  Plus a big pile of comic books and graphic novels—the IDW Revolution event (featuring GI Joe, Rom, Transformers, and Micronauts) was magnificent, as was the conclusion to The Sixth Gun. If you added all of those, I’m probably somewhere in the low sixties.
            Not an ugly score.  Essentially a book a week. I’m huge believer that reading is essential if I want to be a decent writer.  I have to take in material if I want to create material.  I can’t be a filmmaker without watching lots of films. I can’t be a bodybuilder without taking in food.  I can’t be a teacher without learning.  And I sure as hell can’t be a writer if I never read.
            So that’s what I accomplished.  How about you?
            Granted, I’m in the fortunate position where I get to do this full time.  On average, I’m probably going to write more, revise more, and read more than most of you reading this.  It’s not a slam, that’s just basic scheduling.  There’s only so many hours in the day, and I get to spend most of them in this area.  We all have different amounts of time we can put toward these things.  People have kids, jobs, other priorities.
            This also isn’t a contest.  I’m not going to berate you because you only read twenty books this year. I wouldn’t feel extra-special if I read a hundred.  We all read and absorb and work at our own rates
           The key thing is that I can see honest, real forward motion.  I started here and I ended with all of this done.  I can’t be telling myself “well, this counts as getting stuff done” or “I meant to do that.”  I should be able to point at things I wrote.
            I mean, that’s what we’re all trying to do, yes?
            I’d like to thank you all for reading this collection of random thoughts and lessons as we head into (holy crap) the ranty blog’s tenth year.  I’ll try my very best to stay entertaining, educational, and semi-relevant.
            Next time, as I usually do, I’d like to start the year by setting down a couple ground rules—for myself and the ranty blog and the rest of you.
            Until then... go write.
            Have a fantastic New Year’s.  May 2017 be better for all of us.

3 comments:

  1. Well, 2016 turned into a train wreck for me as well. Didn't really get anything done (finished) but started to pick up some steam in the last few weeks.

    2017 is a do-or-die year for me. So I have chosen do.

    You insight is a great help in this endeavor, thank you for keeping up this great blog.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go write.

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  2. This is my first visit to your blog and the only post I've read so far...but I looked you up today to see if you'd published (or had anything in the works) along the same lines as "14" and "The Fold." I've read (ok, I listened to them on Audible...is that considered cheating?) both books twice in 2016 and introduced them to our office book club (we're discussing The Fold next week). I have to say I am a Peter Clines fan now and am really looking forward to visiting that world (multi-verse?) again soon.

    Since we're sharing reading accomplishments, here's a few others that I was able to enjoy in 2016...

    Everything in the Expanse universe by James S.A. Corey...just finished Babylon's Ashes yesterday.
    Ready Player One and Armada - Ernest Cline
    D-Day and Band of Brothers - Stephen Ambrose
    Easy Company Soldier - Bob Welch and Don Malarky
    Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris
    Aftermath - Chuck Wendig
    Lost Stars - Claudia Gray
    Moving Target, Smuggler's Run, and The Weapon of a Jedi
    Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
    Wool, Shift, and Dust - Hugh Howey

    I also re-read...
    Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers
    Brave New World
    The Handmaid's Tale
    The Book of Lost Things
    Gotrek & Felix: Trollslayer
    Various Lovecraft stories

    In the queue...
    Something else by Peter Clines (recommendations?)
    Star Wars: Bloodline - Claudia Gray
    Life-Debt - Chuck Wendig
    The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
    Catalyst - James Luceno
    Everything from the Android fiction series (published by Fantasy Flight Games)
    Everything from the Arkham Horror Files (also published by FFG)

    I'm a 40 year old miniature painter/wargamer (no, I don't look like Steve Carell and am married with three kids), so the brief call-out to 40K in "The Fold" put a big smile on my face. Keep doing what you are doing, and I'll keep buying and recommending your books :)

    And PLEASE get something published soon that let's us revisit the universe you seem to be developing in 14 and The Fold!

    Best,

    Dave

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  3. Hey, all the best for you from a longtime reader (but not for ten years!). ;)

    We all want to get ahead, but few of us actually plow ahead. May 2017 be the year we all turn into fiery tornados of writing doom.

    In the meantime, I also look back at 2016 and while I regret the time wasted on inessential things, I realize that I wrote and published much more than I had thought, and my career gave a not-so-tiny step forward. It's a warm, fuzzy feeling. :)


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