Holy moley, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. Hi! I hope everyone reading this had some wonderful holidays!
It’s December 31st! The end of the year! And I wanted to take this moment to look back at what I accomplished this year. So let’s get to it!
I read a lot of awesome books!
I read 31 books this year. And while most of it was the usual fare–YA fantasy and a smattering of non-fiction–I also read a toooooooooon of MG!
But that doesn’t matter, because almost all of the books I 5-starred on Goodreads were non-fiction or adult fantasy. And so, for the second year in a row, almost all of my favorite books were not in the genre I’m trying to write. Delightful!
The books I enjoyed the most were:
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, a book on elfin/goblin politics that has maybe 5 pages of action and is still completely riveting.
- Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, although I’m still conflicted about it. Every single line spoken by a dragon is pure shining gold, but the ending frustrates me to this very day.
- How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman, which is just a lovely non-fiction book, and…
- A New History of Shinto by John Breen and Mark Teeuwen, which is also super aweome!
I wrote a fair amount!
My original plan was to just dump numbers here. I have them! I seriously do! I can tell you with extreme accuracy how many words I wrote, and how many of those words went to novels, short stories, outlines, and query letters.
But… let’s not. I wrote the first draft of a 60K MG fantasy novel and four short stories. I sold two shorts. I placed in one contest.
And most of that was written after July. I had a pretty weird year, honestly. I spent the first 6 months just fumbling around–struggling to write a novel, puttering through short stories, and being furious at myself all the while. Sure, I pulled out of it. The last half of the year was extremely productive. But none of it was really good for me.
We’ll get to that in a second.
I finished querying a novel!
Okay, so. I kept saying that I was going to post my querying stats. I haven’t. I was imagining a nice, long post about querying where I explained what went well, what didn’t, what freaked me out, and how I worked through it.
I never wrote that post! And now it seems unlikely that I will.
So let’s get that out of the way. I queried a YA fantasy to 92 agents. I got 5 full requests and 1 partial. No one made any offers, unfortunately. I’m done querying that novel–and I have other plans for it, which I hope I can talk about soon! But for now, I can just say that it was a good experience, I learned a lot, but it’s obviously not where I wanted to be.
It’s one of the things I’m most unsure about this year. I feel like I’ve got a bad case of the almosts. I almost had what it took to get an agent to take me on. Almost. Not quite. But almost.
Almost’s not a great place. It kind of drives me nuts. But I also feel like a huge hypocrite in saying so. I know that the me from 5 years ago would punch me in the gut for complaining about getting full manuscript requests, even if they didn’t go anywhere.
So there’s my New Year’s resolution: To write more and agonize less.
So, like I said before, this year was weird. It started out bad. It ended up good. But none of that, I think, is how I’d like to write in the future. And that’s because I spent an awful lot of this year being angry with my writing. Here’s how my train of thought would go:
If you want to make a career as a fiction writer–after accepting that this is extremely unlikely to happen in the first place–you need to write a lot of stories. You have to produce constantly.
The more novels and short stories you complete, the more chances you have at publishing them.
If you are not producing complete novels regularly, you will not be working toward this dream.
OK. So that’s the stupid little reel playing in the back of my skull. It’s reasonable, right? It’s realistic! It’s entirely true. If someone wanted to make a career as a writer, they would have to write a lot of books, regularly and often. Heck, they’d probably want to do a lot more than I manage, which is roughly a novel a year.
But I beat myself over the head with with logic constantly. I wrote a short story a month earlier this year, and it wasn’t enough. 4 stories in 4 months? You can write a short story in a couple of days! It wasn’t enough.
I was writing a novel. When it puttered out in February, I was crushed. I had wasted 6 months on that thing, and I didn’t end up with a completed first draft. I needed to start another. Immediately. I needed to plan and outline and write, because it was February and if I didn’t hurry I wouldn’t finish anything by the end of the year, and then I would be a total failure.
But it turns out that screaming WRITE MORE! PRODUCE MORE! FASTER! at yourself every damn day doesn’t actually make you write better.
I did eventually sit down and write a novel. In fact, almost 60% of the words I wrote this year happened between July and November. But it was a heroic effort. It was repentance! I had struggled so much the first half of the year that I felt like I had to write 10,000 words a week to make up for it. (Though, to be fair, I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t like I was hatewriting the poor thing. I did really enjoy it.)
But the point is that none of this is good for the long haul.
I need to stop… Haranguing myself so much, I guess. And it’s hard, because I’m seeing some success. Some of my novels are getting interest, some of my stories have been sold. Those are all good things. But I have some fervent need to up the ante and do MORE BETTER FASTER.
So yes. That’s my goal. That’s my resolution: I really just don’t need to turn writing into a boom or bust cycle where I’m either frustrated about not writing enough or writing more than I can reasonably maintain.
Because, regardless of all the stress, I got a lot done. I sold more stuff. I wrote more stuff. I learned a ton. And I can continue to do more, and see more success, without making myself feel panicked about not doing enough.
So! That’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes. Here’s to 2016 being an even better year!