I bet no one is sick of these sorts of posts yet! If you care at all about how my year went both personally and as a writer, you’re in the right spot. This post has come out longer than anticipated, which I’m beginning to suspect should be the new tagline for the blog. (There’ll be a later post in January about how I hope to proceed with the blog in 2016.)
Writing in 2015, and Plans for 2016
When I’m blogging, I’m thinking about writing. And if you follow me with any regularity you may have noticed that both blogging and writing have been spotty this year, though steadily improving.
While I wasn’t as productive in December as I wanted to be, I did think a lot about what keeps me productive, the things that keep me from writing, and how to temper my disappointment when I don’t write as much as I mean to. In terms of my writing life goals, we’re a tad behind schedule, but I did a lot of important writer maintenance work in 2015.
All My Favorite Writing Things About 2015
Remember that time I had my first short story released? I’d really meant to follow this up by writing and submitting more short stories in the second half of the year, but I never really finished another one. I wrote some stuff for The Confabulator Cafe that I like, but nothing that I wanted to pursue beyond that.
2015 was the year I learned my priorities as a writer. I think I more or less covered this in my last post about NaNoWriMo, but I know about how much I can expect to write per month while stilll maintaining my family life, my social life, and my general sanity. I’m still hammering down the small process things — but in general, in 2015 I hit a sort of groove. In 2016 the goal will be not to get thrown off my groove so easily.
I stopped freelancing as a source of income. I transitioned into a full-time job (actual best decision ever) and stopped freelancing for even the one on-again-off-again client I still had because I hate freelancing. I love writing for a paycheck, but freelancing and my anxiety do not mix. I need concrete goals and concrete plans, and I was never able to figure that out as a freelancer. Not feeling like all my writing time should be dedicated to paying work for has freed up my writing brain to actually work on fiction again.
I had a lot of ideas! I’ve said before that I worry about only writing one story over and over again. In part, this was because I’d never been good at keeping track of ideas — I’d lose the notebooks things were written in, doodle on scraps of paper, and then forget about every idea I’d ever had.
This year I started using Google Keep to write down an idea I had every time I had it. Without losing track of those notes, I’ve realized that I have a decent variety of both short story and novel ideas. They’re not all good. I don’t really leave sci-fi, and tend toward biopunk, but the ideas themselves vary.
2015 Project Round-up
I actually didn’t finish anything on my “finish your shit in 2015” list.
- Dreaming of Eden: this got trunked in June 2015, and despite my misgivings, I haven’t regretted that. Bit of pieces of the characters will likely be recycled into a short story, but I haven’t given it too much thought otherwise.
- Space Noir: this has a lot in common with Seven Sisters — it is, in fact, in the same universe — and of the two I like the latter a lot more. I haven’t officially trunked this, but it’s being put on the backburner.
- Seven Sisters: this would have been done if I hadn’t decided to work on my historical horror story for NaNoWriMo. That said, I’m a bit over halfway done with that project and I love it, so I regret nothing.
- The Space Horror Short Story: this just never got past half-written. I’m actually pretty good with body horror in writing, but less with creating a good horror atmosphere. So I struggled with this one a lot. I plan to fold it into my 2016 goal list.
Writing Goals in 2016
My most prolific year was 2012; it was the year when I shopping out DREAMING OF EDEN and was last excited about putting more time into my fiction writing. I wrote 256,000 words that year. They were all productive in that they helped me hone my craft, but man. Most of them proved that I’m not the sort of writer who can write both sci-fi and fantasy. I suck at fantasy. (Despite this, I tried again during NaNoWriMo 2013. That also sucked.)
In the two tumultuous years that followed, I didn’t track what I wrote — next to nothing, certainly, with all attempts at new stories falling flat. I’ll be ending 2015 at around 90,000 words and with several projects worth pursuing.
For 2016, I’m setting out to write 167,000 words. It breaks down like this:
- Seven Sisters: I’d like to finish this first draft at about 75,000 words. It’s currently at about 30,000.
- The Historical Horror with Crappy Working Titles: I’m estimating that this first draft will fall a bit shorter, at about 70,000 words. It’s currently at about 39,000.
- A New Biopunk Novel: I want to start the novel idea that came from The Queen’s Skin. I don’t know what to make of it yet, but I wrote the synopsis on the same day I wrote the short story. I’m setting a goal of 75,000 for this one as well. That’s just the first draft goal I choose by default.
- Four Short Stories: I still want to follow up the acceptance of my first short story with, y’know, more short stories. Since Her Data Like Fingerprints was about 3,500 words long, I set that as my standard per story.
I got my number by adding up those totals (234,000 words) and then subtracting what I’d already written on the two that I started in 2015. (All of this was based on the numbers in my spreadsheet a few days ago; I keep a word count spreadsheet for accountability/tracking purposes. Obviously, real word counts are messier than all this.)
On one hand, 167,000 is about double what I wrote in 2015, so I’m nervous. On the other hand, it’s actually much less than what I’d write if I write to my daily/monthly goals, which are calibrated based on what I know works for me. (I’m currently set to 700/day, 20,000/month – which comes out 240,000/year.) So I’m hoping this built-in wiggle room allows me to write more successfully while making and achieving goals.
I’d wanted to do more editing in 2016, but since I didn’t finish my shit in 2015, I’m going to consider all editing to be a perk. I track the time I spend writing in Toggl, and this year I’m just also going to track any editing time I put in. But I don’t know if I’ll have anything ready for beta readers before 2017. We’ll just have to see where 2016 takes us.
In My Personal Life
On the whole, 2015 was awesome. Things are great with my special dudefriend, the child is thriving in school and in life (except for that hiccup when he was hospitalized in May, because whoops he’s had asthma as it turns out), my ex-husband and I are getting along great, and my friends are the very best friends in the whole universe. I have My People and I have so much fucking optimism for the future that I can barely contain it all.
Despite all that, I struggled a lot more with my mental health this year than I did in 2014. Mostly this just made me mad a lot because life is better than ever, and a lot of the time I felt less functional than ever. So that sucked. My family and friends have all been immeasurably supportive and helpful when I needed them, and I’m forever grateful. <3
In addition to not meeting my writing goals, I didn’t mean any of my personal goals either. My savings account is nowhere near where I wanted it to be by January 2016. I’m at nearly the same weight I started the year at:
This is okay. It’s not my favorite thing — laid out like that, I’m like, “Am I just the worst at doing anything? How did I fail at every goal I set?” But this past year has been a lot about trying to find a balance in life, and learning what does and doesn’t work for me. I’m happy with what I’ve learned and I’m ready to make a lot of steps in 2016.
Now, to end on my favorite pictures from the year. (Some of them — I had a hard time not picking them all.) I mined from Instagram and Facebook, and they’ll be in a different order every time you refresh the page.
Happy New Year, everyone!