It’s the end of the year! And that means it’s time for me to look back at what I accomplished, and lament review how it went!

(Also, I full acknowledge that this is going to be ridiculously boring to anyone who isn’t me. Sorry. It’s tradition.)

Reading: The trend continues!

If there’s one thing I’m pretty consistent about, it’s reading. I actually read more this year than I have in any year since I started using Goodreads (which is 2013, apparently). This is good, kind of, because I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing I did well at this year. Er. We’ll get to that in a second.

According to Goodreads, I read 44 books this year. And, like always, they were all over the board–I read an awful lot of fantasy, yes, but that definitely wasn’t all I read. I read everything from non-fiction to history to science fiction.

And, for something like the third year in a row, my favorite book of the year wasn’t a YA fantasy! I fell absolutely head over heels for the Ancillary Justice series–an award-winning adult SF that absolutely sucked me in. All three of them were amazing. I think I read the whole trilogy in a couple weeks, followed by the author’s other book, Provenance. And I just preordered her upcoming fantasy. They were good, okay!?

Honorable mention goes to Record of a Spaceborn Few, the third Becky Chambers novel, which didn’t make me cry as much as A Close and Common Orbit, but was still a mindblowingly pretty bit of worldbuilding. Overall, Ms. Chambers’s series (which Goodreads calls the Wayfarer series, I guess?) is also now one of my new favorite trilogies ever. It’s also an adult SF, which is kind of bewildering–I’ve honestly never read that much SF. This year, I was all over it.

Writing: This year was a garbage fire

No more warm fuzzies. Let’s talk about writing.

For the last few years, I’ve averaged about 200,000 words a year. That doesn’t mean those words used very well–in 2017, I reached 251,000 words by rewriting a single story over and over, then writing a 70K NaNoWriMo draft that I later threw out. I ended up with one reasonably polished final draft, yes, but it was hard.

So while writing more words doesn’t mean I was more productive, this year was still total garbage at 90,163 words. Argh!

This doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything, of course. Let’s try to be positive!

  • I finished my last edit of my current YA fantasy.
  • I pulled together all my query materials and queried a bunch of agents.
  • I stopped querying at 40 agents, with a 12% request rate, because I got the first R&R of my life! So now it’s time to do some major overhauls, cross my fingers, and see if mayyyybe, just maybe, this manuscript might get me an agent.
  • And hey, I’ve got 2 full requests and a partial still out, anyway–so who knows? Maybe they’ll be interested in it, too.

I didn’t get a ton of new writing done, and that’s… well, because I’m learning a lot about how I work, I guess. I didn’t get much done during the year I queried Justice Unending, either. That’s enough to write a blog post over–and I probably already have!–but it’s interesting to see that my work habits change whenever I’ve got a query out.

But the last couple of months have been pretty productive–and now I’ve got an R&R to worry about!

Out with the old, in with the new!

Honestly, despite not writing nearly as much as I wanted to, I accomplished most of the things I wanted to do last year. I finished my draft! I queried! Querying went better than last time!

I didn’t finish the sequel to Justice Unending, although I do have some early drafts and a fairly complete outline. It needs a lot of reworking, but it’s in decent enough condition that I can hop back into it soon enough.

So what are my goals this year?

  • Finish my revise and resubmit early in the year. Then submit it, cross all my fingers and toes, and hope for the best!
  • Write the sequel to Justice Unending. It’s outlined! I keep getting Amazon reviews complaining that I haven’t finished it yet! Whoops. Yeah, let’s try to get to that this year.
  • Get back into short stories. I haven’t written one in a loooong time.
  • Sketch out lose outline ideas for sequels to my current project. This shouldn’t be crazy difficult, but I need to remember to do it. So, yes: it’s on the to-do list!

All very straightforward and obvious. Isn’t that nice?

And that’s it!

OK, so 2018 wasn’t my most productive year. But I also had the most successful query of my life, and that counts for something, right? And now I’m all ready for 2019, with a fancy productivity planner, some clear goals, and a shiny R&R to guide me. So here’s to a brand new year!

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It’s 2018! You know what that means, right? It’s time for self-indulgent introspection!

Let’s start by checking my 2017 resolutions and seeing how I did!

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

I did okay! Okay-ish?

  • I did edit my new YA fantasy, the tentatively titled Garden in the Waves. It took WAY longer than I expected, and it’s still not quite ready to query. But I did finish my second draft. Garden was 115K at the start of 2017, and now it’s 90K–and almost all of that is completely new content.
  • I didn’t query Garden, but I do have a query letter drafted and (nearly) ready to go.
  • I didn’t write any short stories this year, unfortunately. I was hoping that the above-mentioned edits would take ~6 or so months, and… they took 10. Huh. And even when I was done, I still didn’t have time for short stories, because…
  • I did NaNoWriMo! I wrote about 70K of a novel that’s probably going to be 80K. That draft isn’t done, and it also needs to be completely rewritten, but it was nice to blow through something new after spending 5 months writing and 10 months editing Garden.

So I got a fair amount of work done. Let’s look at it in more detail!

Reading: I could have done more.

According to Goodreads, I read 30 books and approximately 10,000 pages. That’s about average. (It’s a little behind the 35 I did in 2016, though.)

The best book I read was–shock! surprise!–not a YA fantasy. It’s never a YA fantasy! I read boatloads of them, I swear! I really like them! But I always seem to run into something totally unexpected–and something totally not YA–that blows me out of the water.

This year, the best series I read was The Broken Earth series (the first of which is The Fifth Season), an exceptionally powerful adult fantasy series with some mindblowing worldbuilding. It’s hugely popular. There’s a TV series coming out. It’s definitely worth picking up. I don’t like morbid, dark, post-apocalyptic stuff, but this series absolutely devoured me.

Writing: I’m pretty inefficient!

If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I seriously love tracking how much I write. So I can tell you that I:

  • Wrote 251,078 words this year.
  • 229,534 were just brand new words in brand new chapters.
  • 8,673 of them were related to outlining.
  • …Leaving 8,082 related to editing. But that number’s wonky. I only count my words as “editing” if I’m keeping the majority of the content I’m working on. If I toss out content and rewrite it from scratch, I count it as “writing.” And lemme tell you: I did a lot of rewriting. A LOT a lot. So even though I edited a single novel for 10 months, most of that time wasn’t logged as editing.

This is huge. I wrote approximately 212,000 words last year. I wrote 139,000 words the year before. I am writing a ton of content, and I’m writing more every year!

But that doesn’t mean I used my writing time well. I spent this year editing a YA fantasy that–with any luck–I’ll query this year. I also rewrote the first half of it 3 times. I tossed out my first draft. I rewrote the first 14 chapters, then tossed them out. I wrote 15 new chapters to replace them, then tossed most of that out. Now I have 14 also mostly-new chapters, and they mostly, but they still need edits. Argh!

I essentially took a 115,000-word story and rewrote it. It is now 92,000 words. But I had to write 159,000 words to get there.

And then I wrote a new story, which is currently 70,000 words long. But it was a NaNoWriMo story, it was really quickly outlined, and I… really want to do all of it differently. So that’ll have to be rewritten, too!

So while I created a lot of content, it’s also really easy to feel like I’m running in place–creating and creating and creating, but inching toward the actual act of finishing something and getting it published. I’m close, sure! But it’s easy to feel like I didn’t actually do anything in 2017.

Other Writing-Related Goals!

I was busy, though!

  • I attended my first major writing convention!
  • I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time (and won!)
  • I actually left the house and made some local writing friends!

These are all really good things!

My Goals for 2018

So! 2017 was a… well, it was a year. I did some stuff. It might not have been the year I was hoping it’d be, but it certainly wasn’t a wash. So what do I plan to do in 2018?

  • I need to finish my third–and hopefully final–edit of The Garden in the Waves. I want this one to go much faster. I’m 90% of the way there!
  • And I’m definitely going to query it this year. Fingers crossed!
  • I need to rewrite the Justice Unending sequel from scratch. I got a lot of ideas down on paper, I wrote 70,000 words, and now I know a lot more about what I actually want to do.
  • I’d really like to write 1 or 2 short stories this year. I haven’t published any since 2015! I had a few out on submission in 2017, but I didn’t write any–I just kept a few old 2016 stories out on rotation. It’s time to put those to bed and focus on something new.

And that’s that!

It’s been a productive–if not slightly frustrating–year. I might not have accomplished everything I wanted to do, but I definitely did a lot.

I didn’t query, no. But, with any luck, I’ll be out in the query trenches in a month or two. And once I’m there, I promise: I’ll cover everything that I learn along the way here on the blog.

And for those folks who follow me: thank you for another year! I’ve loved chatting with all of you and hearing about your experiences. I hope you all have a wonderful new year!