Yep, it’s that calendar-driven excuse to look back and take stock of what we’re doing. Lots of stuff happened in the world, but I’m not here to talk about that. It’s my blog, after all, so I’m going to focus on me!
I started the year with three goals:
- Self-publish two novels
- Write two new novels
- Blog consistently
How did I do? Eh… decently. I didn’t get everything done, but I got further than I’ve ever gotten before.
On the publishing side, I put out my first book, Beneath the Sky. I had originally given myself three months to do it. Alas, it took four, but at least one month of that was me thrashing about trying to figure out the process. I never did get the second one out. Originally, that second one was going to be my first fantasy novel, Hell Bent, but I think I’ve decided to launch my Father Chessman series first (Ships of my Fathers, etc). While I did get that one out to beta readers this year, it hasn’t progressed beyond that.
On the writing side, I wrote another draft, but only one draft. My original goal had been to crank it out in June and July, but it ran into troubles, and I didn’t finish it off until mid-November. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t get that next novel published, and it’s also why the second one didn’t get written. Still, this was the fifth novel-length work I’ve done, so I’m no longer intimidated by the sheer scale of writing a book.
As for the blog, I haven’t been perfectly consistent, but I did pretty well. My original schedule was for three posts a week, which would come to 156 entries in total. I did around 135, so that’s about 85%. Probably the thing that hurt me the most was not getting them written in advance. When that happened, there usually wasn’t a posting that day. Still, I’ve gotten pretty good at getting them done in advance and scheduled to drop in the morning automatically. What, you didn’t really think I was up blogging at six or seven in the morning, did you?
There were two other interesting milestones that I passed this year. The first one is about my sheer word count. I’ve heard an old adage that every writer has a certain number of words of crap that they have to write before they get to the good stuff, usually something on the order of 500,000 to a million words. It’s really just another way of saying that writing fiction well requires a lot of practice, so we have to be patient and do the work, but putting a number on it at least makes us feel like there’s a finish line.
Well, this year I crossed the 500,000 words milestone. I had to count all my short fiction from way back as well as the 70,000 words from that novel I abandoned years ago. (Note: this only counts words of fiction, not emails, letters, or blog entries.) My total is now around 560,000.
Maybe that means I’m finally writing the good stuff now – which, ahem, does little to recommend my already published novel Beneath the Sky – or maybe it means I’m still only halfway there. With the ease of word processors, perhaps that number does need to be pushed all the way to a million. But wherever that mythical finish line is, 560,000 words of fiction is a lot. That’s like 1800 pages in book form.
The second milestone was an odd one, and it came with little warning. After years of writing, MS Word rose to the top of my start menu, finally displacing World of Warcraft as my most frequently launched program. We always talk about making time for writing by cutting back on other things like TV, games, and various social commitments, but it’s rare that we get an external validation that we’ve succeeded at that effort.
So strangely, that has meant more to me than publishing that first book, and it has stuck with me. Every time I go to that start menu, I see a reminder that now I am a writer.
How about the rest of you? Did 2012 bring anything special to your lives?