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.
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.
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 thisdone. 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.