For the record, the first draft of this post began back in November. The concept was simple – a quick post to reel off my writing accomplishments from the last year, where I thought I was going to be going with it next year, etc.
As it turns out, not incredibly original. I brought my RSS feed for the first time in a few weeks today, waded through a gaggle of writerly advice, funny world news, and legal shenanigans (Lowering the Bar is worth it even if you have zero interest in all things legal past remaining on the good side of the law), and discovered that just about every other writer I know out there has a post out there about their last year.
Well, so much for being a trend setter.
The last year has had some interesting highlights in writing. I still don’t spend nearly enough time working on it as I want to, and definitely not as much as I should be. But slowly, steadily, I think I’m making some progress.
2015 saw me write not one, but two novels and finish a third. I don’t know that any of them should see a broad readership (internal critic, I know thy name!), but they each taught me a little something more about pacing, character development, and perhaps the most important lesson of all – how my brain works when composing a story. In novel writing, I learned to truly embrace the idea that the first draft is just a fleshed out outline. What I haven’t accomplished yet, and plan to tackle in 2016, is taking that fleshy outline and turning it into a readable novel.
Not that readability stopped me in 2015. Despite being unsatisfied with my darlings, I sent two of them out into the wilds in the hopes of finding homes. There was plenty of kind platitudes, but at the end of the day, there were no agents calling me back for more. I’m OK with that, and have a plan for 2016 and novels. We’ll see what comes of that.
2015 wasn’t just about the novel, though. I also worked on both existing and new short stories. All told, I sent stories out 29 times in 2015. Not a great hit rate – once every 2 weeks as an average – but that’s twice as much as the three years previous combined.
In the short story arena, I’ve started brushing closer to “success” (being defined as published in a venue where non-biased readers can share my stories). One story made it to final consideration for publication, though ultimately cut. Currently I have another out there in pending land, though I’m beginning to suspect that that land is more of a swamp.
So why do it? Why continue sending stories out, or even writing them, if no one likes them enough to publish them?
Well, to start with, I think they are getting better. My rejections are progressing smoothly from form letter to form letters and personal responses. Given that 2016 is only days away, I probably won’t have a publication credit for 2015 – but mark my words, 2016 is the year you’ll be able to find me in print (such as the term print applies in this modern era).
But it’s more than just my craft finally sharpening and honing into something people will notice. Above that, and the reason for any of it, is that there are stories in my head. Left alone, they will fester, whispering until I slowly go mad with the tales of lost worlds. The only way to save myself is to share the crazy.
So I write. If my word tracking spreadsheet is to be trusted (it probably isn’t, given this total), I’ve written 328,703 words in 2015 so far. There might be a few extra words in there, but then again the spreadsheet also (wonderfully) was tracking negative numbers for a while and subtracting from that total, so it’s all a wash.
Seems like a lot of words – until you add the volume of two and a half novels and a dozen or more short stories into the mix. Crazy, eh?
And that’s how writing in 2015 went down for me.