Well, it’s that time again. Last few days of the year, holidays have flown past, the new year is looming and we’re all looking back on the past twelve months and figuring out what we got done. Was it a productive year? Was it good creatively? Mentally?
I think it’s good to do this sort of thing, personally. It’s hard to tell if I’m improving at something if I don’t keep records and establish some sort of baseline, even if it’s just being able to compare this year to last year. So I like adding all this stuff up so I can remind myself that, yeah, I really do work at this a lot. It’ a nice reminder when the imposter syndrome kicks in late at night.
Plus, let’s face it. This year, like 2020, was rough on productivity. In a lot of ways, it was much better than last year. At the same time… wow, 2021 started rough and felt like it never really got its footing. We all tried to go back to normal and for so many reasons… we couldn’t. There’s just been this lurking unease all year, about so many things—covid, politics, the supply chain. It’s like we know the killer’s somewhere in the house with us, but we’re not sure if we should bolt for the door or just stay quietly hidden here in the living room. I mean, nothing bad’s happened to us but there was some shouting and then a scream from upstairs where Randi was but she’s probably okay? And maybe we could try opening the window and getting out that way but is it worth the risk? That window really squeaks sometimes. Maybe we’d get out, yeah, but maybe it’d be one of those things where we’ve got one leg and an arm and our head out the window and then something YANKS us back inside.
It’s been like that. For me, anyway. Maybe it wasn’t as bad for you. But if it was, you weren’t alone. This is my full time job and for the past two years… it’s been tough to focus on being creative.
Anyway… what did I do this year?
Right off the bat, it just struck me that I didn’t have a single thing come out in 2021. No novels or short stories or anything. Been a couple years since that happened.
I finished The Broken Room in January, then ended up doing another pass on it based off some talks with my agent (which actually led to a whole new chapter and some big tweaks to a few others). Then there were all the story edits and copyedits with Blackstone. Maybe worth adding in that I chipped in some creative thoughts on the marketing and cover art, even if all of those thoughts were wisely ignored. I mean, I still did that work, so we should count it. And this is the point where I shamelessly say, hey, you can preorder The Broken Room right now from your favorite local bookstore, Indiebound, or any monolithic online superstore named after a South American river.
I also did a massive outline for a six book series I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Like, a whole beginning-to-end hexalogy. Some of you may have heard me talk about it here or there. The entire combined thing was just shy of 44K words. I also used that to make a trimmed down, 10K word pitch document for my agent, who I’d also been talking about this with for a few years.
And, hey, then I sat down and wrote the first draft of book one of said series, which came in at a terse 73K words. Like a lot of my first drafts, it had some holes and some bits I skimmed over. I just wanted to finish it because…
While my agent really liked the six book series, he also admitted it’d be a tough sell at this point. Just because of the state of the industry, the point my own career is at, and so on. We had a couple conversation about it—the kind of conversations the artistic side doesn’t’ like, but the business side knows you need to have—and, well, after finishing that first draft of Book One, I sat down and worked out pair of outlines for two different, stand-alone books that had been tickling my brain for a while. So that was another 17k words scribbled out.
And after we talked about those two outlines, David pretty enthusiastically said I should focus on one of them. And I’m currently about 35K words into that as we speak. Hoping to have a first draft done by Valentine’s Day, maybe?
And on top of all that…
I scribbled up 52 blog posts this year, counting this one. Granted, three or four of those were cartoons, so I didn’t have to put much effort in past, y’know, posting them. But hopefully still enough that one or two of you found something useful here. Seriously, I’m never sure if this is more useful for you or therapeutic for me…
Speaking of therapy, so many Saturday geekery threads. At least forty. A lot of B-movies dissected in real time. Most bad, but some good ones, too.
I also jotted a few thousand words (maybe eight or nine) down for a geekery side project I’ll probably be launching this year. Nothing spectacular, don’t get too excited. Well, some of you may end up very excited, some will be willing to try it, and a few of you will greet this with a resounding “huh.”
And I read a lot, too. Nowhere near as much as I would’ve liked (neveras much as I would’ve liked). I think I’m looking at ending the year with twenty-six novels under my belt, plus one or two non-fiction books and a ton of articles (an actual metric ton). Weirdly enough, very few comics this past year. Covid isolated me from my regular shop in LA (The House of Secrets) for most of last year, and this year I was hesitant about going to find a new place because, y’know, the killer’s somewhere here in the house.
So that’s more or less where I am.
How about you? Did you get some cool stuff done this year? Don’t worry about how much—did you get anything done? Did you carve out a little time and manage to do something in your chosen field of creativity?
Again, don’t beat yourself up over what you didn’t do. There’s a lot of stuff we all didn’t do. This is about celebrating what we did. Taking note of it. Figuring out what we need to do so we can improve next time.
When next we meet it’ll be 2022. I’ve got a couple topics I plan to blather on about. Was going to talk about plot and character a bit, perhaps touch on how long things can take to write (or how long it can take to get a career going), maybe talk a bit about making things up. And maybe some of that will sound interesting to you. Or maybe you’ve got something that’s been gnawing at you and you’d like to hear me blather on about. If that’s the case, drop a comment down below or over on Twitter or Instagram.
So until next time, please have a safe and happy New Year, please get your shots if you haven’t already, and please please please…