Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Year of Writing

            And just like that, 2017 is almost done.
            Well, okay.  Not really “just like that.”  For a lot of folks (me included), this has been a very long, stressful year.  Maybe for you, too, although I hope you managed to dodge some of it.
            It can be tough to write under these conditions.  When you feel like the world’s crumbling around you and you’re lunging to grab your favorite parts before they hit the floor... suddenly getting 1500 words written doesn’t feel like the best use of the day.  It can even make you feel worse.  Things may be collapsing, people are scared, but I’m going to go write this funny dialogue bit in a zombies on the moon story...
            Anyway... deep breath. 
            And if the deep breath doesn’t calm you, maybe a stiff drink.
            Okay.  Let’s talk about what we did get done this year.
            Why?  Well, I like laying this out because I’ve somehow stumbled into the position of being a “pro,”  and I think there’s a lot of bad information out there about what being a pro entails.  Some people think it means writing four hours a day and getting paid very well for it.  Other people think it means typing twelve hours a day, every day, and making about the same as a retail worker.  And still other people honestly think it means living in some gigantic New York penthouse apartment (and wintering in your Los Angeles one), where you barely ever write but still constantly make the NYT bestseller list and have enough free time to help solve about twenty-two murders a year.
            True fact.  I’m still living in the same apartment I lived in ten years ago when I was a terrified, starving writer.  Was driving the same car up until this March (when it finally wouldn’t pass inspection anymore).
            Anyway.  Getting off track. Too much eggnog with too much rum in it...
            As I have in the past, I wanted to go over everything I’ve written this year.  Partly for me. Partly for you.  Let’s get a sense of what a (supposed) pro does...
            I spent the first three months of the year finishing up work on Paradox Bound. As I’ve mentioned in other places, it was very tough writing a story about America and the American Dream right now.  There were many rewrites for tone and message that continued right up until the very last minute. And even then I look back at it and see things that slipped past me, things I wish I could’ve tweaked a little more.  But many of you have enjoyed it, and I’m very glad.
            During this time I was also working on a rough outline for Ex-Tension, what was going to be book six of the Ex-Heroes series.  I even started some of the heavy lifting when Paradox Bound wasn’t sitting in front of me.  But I was maybe a month or so into it when my editor, agent, and I had some talks and, well... it’s been set aside for now.  More on that later. 
            But it actually meant I could launch into Timestamp.  It’s been tickling my mind for a while now.  I wrote about 15,000 words of it and, on request, wrote out a huge exhaustive outline.  I was a little worried, because it’s one of those complex, character-heavy stories that comes across as a bit simplistic if it gets broken down past a certain point.  But after another six or seven weeks... this got set aside as well.  And, in retrospect, I’m okay with that.  My editor and I got to sit down one night at SDCC and talk about it over whiskey and apple pie, and he made some really good observations about the story (as he always does).
            Of course, at this point the year was more that half done and I hadn’t really gotten momentum on anything. Every time I started to prick up speed, my legs got kicked out from under me.  So I made the decision that I was going to write... well, a zombies on the moon story.  Something fun that I was excited about.  Because I needed to write something before the year drove me even crazier. 
            And I just finished up a first draft of that.
            Plus, my agent and I focused on a few ideas and I wrote up three other super-detailed outlines earlier this month.  Well, two “super-detailed” and one “fairly solid” outlines.  And I’m really excited about these and thinking they’re going to end up being most of next year for me.
            I also did a lot of promo stuff for Paradox Bound.  A few mini-articles, maybe a dozen written interviews.  Maybe a solid week of writing if you added all that up.
            And there was this blog. A record breaking seventy-six posts this year but... let’s be honest.  At least a dozen of those were just Tom Gauld cartoons or memes, and maybe another dozen were random promo posts for Paradox Bound or the Dead Men Can't Complain collection.  Still, that means these were around fifty rants on one topic or another.  I think I could call this year a tie with 2009, previously the most successful year of the ranty blog.
            There were also nine or ten posts on my little geeky blog, and I came to the realization just last night that I’m probably going to end that one.  It requires a lot more of a time investment than I can give these days, between the hobby side of it and the instructional/ writing side. I love those projects, but I can’t work on them and document to the extent they deserve.  I may try to find a happy medium somewhere...
            Anyway... that’s what I got done this year. 
            How about you?
            At the end of it all, we have to keep writing.  It’s what separates us from the non-writers. And the great apes.  We keep pulling stories out of our head and scribbling them out for other people to read.  This is the only definition of being a writer—writing.  People can make any argument or excuse they like, but if I’m not doing that one basic part of the job...  well...
            Anyway, I hope the holiday season is going fantastic for all of you.  See you all next year.
            And if you get a chance... maybe write a bit.

4 comments:

  1. On January 1, I made a resolution to write (at least) 250 words a day, every day, even Christmas. This was a ridiculously modest goal, I'll admit, one I could complete in about 15 minutes (on a good day). But it allowed me to finish my first novel, one I've been carrying around in my head for many years now. So huzzah for modest goals!

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  2. Congrats! You've gotten over a huge hump, step by step, one foot in front of the other.

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  3. I didn't get half of what I wanted to done in 2017; mostly because I didn't make an organized schedule, and let time slip through my fingers. Also because sometimes I can't let go of a project, even when it's clearly not working and maybe I should put it aside and working on something else.

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