Reflections on 2014

This kind of column seems almost obligatory, where sites, blogs, and even channels give their thoughts, progress, and best picks list for the last year.  Well this is a new blog in a quiet corner of the internet, and if I post the top ten posts according to downloads, this might include every single post.  That seems a little much of a feedback loop and the audio squeal would hurt my ears as much as yours.

Progress is a little harder to pin down from here in the trenches. Am I a better writer in the last year?  Maybe a little: I haven’t been completely had writer’s block this year.  While I’ve written posts here or cheesy drabbles that will never see the light of day, I haven’t been unable to write at least something when I wanted to.  “Real life” has been a major problem between health and major household issues with a furnace.  It’s rather hard to write under a literal mound of blankets, but I don’t call that block.  Exhaustion and broken sleep schedule is starting to resettle a little.

Procrastination was beaten on a bit as a completed a project: layout, proofing, cover and all on a partly self imposed deadline. I submitted a short story for publication, and it was rejected.  Par for the new writer’s course.  I finished six short shorts towards a collection to self publish, but it’s not quite enough for a sale package, so I missed that deadline. I finished trying out writing a game module, but that removes the story a little too far from the reader.  Made the date, but not the timezone, another rookie error.  So my smaller projects were disappointing, but not worthless.  During the holidays I found a place to submit stories for publication, and that might supersede the collection.  Submit flash stories for creditable publication is a high priority for the new year.

Tradition for the SF/F genre is to cut your teeth on short stories and then step up to novel length and series.  Many of the old name authors started that way, though there were exceptions.  Lesser known until recently was that fanfiction was also a training area for writers like Asimov, Lackey, and McMasters-Bujold.  Novel length gives so much more room for character growth and change, even from inside anothers’ sandbox.  I did not manage to finish my last major fanfiction by my deadline, though much of the reason was that I was doing the items listed above.  The two month frenzy and collapse around NaNo left me with a 70k word first draft.

Those two items are the other two high priority writing tasks for 2015.  Finish the fan fiction story!  I think that finishing the story for your fans is important.  If they have been reading and bookmarking and commenting for ten, twenty, or seventy chapters of a trilogy it’s a kind of contract to finish the thing.  The ending of a story makes of breaks it.  An unfinished ending is the worst kind of break.  This isn’t like a paper series where the publisher doesn’t want the expense and loss if it doesn’t sell.  Fan fiction is free.  I suspect I may continue to do the occasional short in the future, but this will be the last major piece.

Finish my original story, the one I did for NaNo.  I was burnt out by the NaNo push and worked on three other chapters since then, but I need to finish maybe another 10k for the draft and then revise that.  If wishes were horses, I could afford an editor to help clean it up, so it will be slower.

The fourth thing is transition from amateur to professional. That is in many ways more important as the first three.  Writing steadily and deadlines are only part of it.  I need to keep an eye on the industry, read about and talk to other writers, look out for financial and legal potholes, and take advantage of whatever training I can manage to get.  Now some things I don’t plan to invest the time in, social networking is fine, but I know that is a timesuck for me.  It comes down to having time to write or time to be active on sites.  I just have to remember that writers, most writers I respect, were successful before these existed.  I plan to be retro.  Keeping up with these things is already over an hour most every day and that is a big chunk that must be pruned, no matter how horrible and enthralling these trainwrecks are.

I like challenges and external deadlines, so I will be doing Holly Lisle’s Ugly Baby Challenge.  So much to do.  Wish me luck, and I wish you the same for your plans for 2015!



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