So, it’s nearing the end of 2017 – thank the gods! While I can’t really complain on a personal level, and we’ll leave the rest out of this blog, I don’t feel like I’ve made much tangible progress. Nothing has really changed from the start of 2017 until the end, and though that makes me more fortunate than many, a whole year gone by tends to feel like a missed opportunity. However, it might not be a bleak as all that.
What I did accomplish this year:
As you may know, I have had three books in progress for some while (Works-In-Progress 1, 2, and 3). This turned out to be the year I finally made some decisions on them all, and that’s something. For WIP1, it means admitting that, as much as I love it, it may not ever be a book that appeals to the masses as much as it does to me. It’s the first serious book I wrote, it’s the book I always wanted to read, and it’s taught me a lot about writing and editing – but it’s not perhaps the platform on which to launch a career.
The flipside is that WIP2 or 3 might be. Both were written more quickly, more smoothly, and both ended up just about on the mark I intended to hit. That’s not to say I didn’t revise them a good bit (this year, in fact), but they both seemed to work and didn’t appear to require any major changes. So, reader, I submitted them. (I know, you’re not supposed to submit two things at once, but I had reasons and opportunity.)
Considering where I was a few months back, that’s huge progress. We’ll see in the new year (see below) if that bears any fruit. I know better than to hold out more than a minuscule amount of hope, but at least I’ve started a process that could get me where I’ve dreamed of.
Other than that, I’ve read forty or so books, which is a good dent in the TBR mountain (though it’s probably grown almost as fast as I’ve reduced it). Most of those books have been really really good (check this blog, or Goodreads), and many of them I’ve been waiting to read for a while. Having such a big TBR means you start to get choosy, and now that I know my taste (plus the fact that I’m not reading 100s of books like some others I know), I rarely read a book I don’t really enjoy.
Of course, I’ve also been reading for the #SPFBO, so I have read parts of a bunch of books that I didn’t really enjoy that much. But, I also found some books that I thoroughly enjoyed and would otherwise probably never have read. I whole-heartedly recommend you check them out. This competition has also lead to my first writing in a while published elsewhere than my blog, and though a couple reviews on Fantasy Faction isn’t much, it’s something.
Oh, that reminds me, I also did my first bit of flash fiction and entered it in the Battle of the Bards contest. Didn’t do too badly, either – I almost came third! Even though I can’t say I spent a lot of time on it – how much time can you take on flash fiction? – and a lot of it was down to having the right idea at the right time (and a ready character from WIP3), it did give me a little boost. I did submit another short piece somewhere once (maybe this year?) but that got the standard rejection. As it’s a bridge all writers have to cross, I count that as progress, too.
Which brings us too next year:
Obviously, the first thing to mention is the possibility (however slim) of good news in the relatively near future. If so, that changes everything, but if not (more likely), then I’ll continue to submit the WIPs I reckon are finished. Unless there is specific feedback, I won’t look to do much more work on them, because I do reckon that leads to diminishing returns. There’s only so much you can do to a story if it’s not what people want.
Which means I should probably write something new. I really should have done this sooner, but I’ve been revising for years. WIP3 was drafted in 2015 and stuck in a drawer until late this year. WIP2 was written early the year before, marked up later that year, then stuck in a drawer without further revision until this year as well. The reason for this, real-life excuses besides, is that WIP1 was still taking up a lot of my writing time (or tinkering time, as it was). So, you can see that putting that away for a while is actually pretty significant, and having the other two done and out the door means I finally have a clear desk.
So, what to write?
Well, I have two ideas, both of which I had sketched some ideas for in the midst of all those revisions, but neither of which I set aside enough headspace and time to actually write more than a few taster paragraphs (I don’t really outline, if you hadn’t noticed – whether I should or not is another question). One is in the same world as WIPs 1, 2, and 3, and is the first that’s actually more-or-less a sequel. It has a different type of protagonist, a different type of plot, but generally continues the aesthetic and themes of the “series” (non-linear as it is) so far.
The other story idea features a new world and a new style, and is more “high concept” than the others. I’m sorta hoping that means it will be more commercial (in a good way, and not that I know yet whether my others have failed). It seems to make more sense to write this one first, because even though the other could well stand on its own, it’s probably better to diversify rather than keep piling irons into the one sputtering fire. (Is that a mixed metaphor? Oh well, you get it.) The only problem is, I don’t know if I can write it – but there’s only one way to find out!
Other than the attempt to write one if not two books, I’ll keep reading as much as I can. It’s been really refreshing to make a point of reading, rather than excuses why I can’t. I have the final round of SPFBO to look forward to (that could be ten books right there, depending how we split it up), and in addition to my towering TBR, there are a few excellent books coming out next year that I’ll have to catch up with.
And, of course, a few more blog posts now and then.
Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!