The year is almost over, and I’ve been slacking when it comes to updating this blog, so I wanted to take time to reflect on it. I’m also going to address what I want to accomplish in the coming year and set some concrete goals. If you’re part of the TL;DR-crowd, this post will likely be too rambling for you. Short version is, I had a good year, hit a milestone, learned some things about myself/my writing, and from December 23rd to the 27th, I’m running a promotion for my short story so that everyone can have another chance to get it for free.
2014 all runs together in my memories. There’s always more work to be done, and the past year was full of work. My job kept me busier than ever. I spent a lot of time mowing lawns and cleaning up peoples’ yards. I have the aches to prove it. But don’t think I’m complaining: everything that hurts is a reminder of the progress I’ve made, both as an individual and as a part of a team. Even though I spent so much time working, I was able to achieve a writing milestone that’s evaded me for some time.
I was never really into the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions, but in 2014 I made a resolution and made it a reality. My resolution was to be published for the first time, and I’m happy to say that I accomplished that goal.
I entered a short story into a competition done by the wonderful folks over at Here Booky Booky, and I was fortunate enough to be selected as the winner. Thanks to the expertise and hard work put in by the Bookies, I was able to self-publish my first story. “Specimen 25” was unlike anything I’d ever written, but I worked hard to turn my inspiration into a solid story that I was proud to have my name on. What was originally a simple “what if…” idea for a short story turned into something else entirely, and all because I happened to bend down at work one day and find a discarded latex glove in the parking lot of a 7-11.
Life is weird.
Of course, there’s much more to it than that. The writing, editing, and everything that went into making that story: I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of Catherine. She pushed me to make the story better, and she helped me pour over the text to get it right. If not for her, I probably wouldn’t have submitted the story to the contest. I had so many doubts, but she kept insisting that the story was good. She was right, as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s a good story.
Starting tomorrow (December 23), “Specimen 25” will be free to download until the 27th. A little Christmas sale, with the hope that if you haven’t had a chance to get it yet, this will be the nudge you needed. If you have read it, maybe take a minute to let others know it’s available? I recommend it to anyone that enjoys some weird.
As some of you might be aware, I joined in on National Novel Writing Month this year. I’d intended to throw myself into my new project headlong and spend the month of November furiously bashing out that first draft. If getting the 50,000 words minimum is the only criteria for success, then, technically, I failed. Here’s the thing, though. In spite of the fact that I didn’t emerge from November with a completed draft, I don’t consider my NaNoWriMo experience a failure. I learned a lot about myself as a writer and my writing process, and there’s nothing stopping me from continuing to write that draft.
I learned that having an outline isn’t a substitute for being inspired, but I also learned that determination plays a bigger role in inspiration than I’d ever realized. I discovered that setting goals and having quantifiable ways to measure progress can be a great way to spawn productivity, but only if I’m being honest with myself about what I want and what it’s going to take to get it. I realized that I can only read about others’ success stories and experiences to inform my view of what else is out there, and that comparison is doomed to lead to disappointment. I learned that fear reinforces all of the other negative emotions that can build and become a barrier to achievement. And I learned that, sometimes, there’s such a thing as thinking too small.
I’m working hard to shut up that voice in my head saying, “Yeah, but you should have learned all of these things a long time ago.” That voice never really helps me, anyway.
I haven’t given up on my novel, but I have refocused my expectations. My new goal is to finish the first draft by the end of 2015. I think it’s much more realistic than trying to churn out a full-length book in 30 days. I have a chunk of the beginning written, but I don’t know if any of it will ever be part of the finished novel. I’ve stopped putting so much emphasis on the word count, the finished product, or what my book should or shouldn’t be when it’s complete. The book will be whatever it will be, and that was the truth all along. All that’s changed is my outlook, and I’m pretty sure it’s changed for the better.
That being said, I would still like to publish again in the coming year. I have several short stories I’ve been working on, and my goal is to have at least one more published in 2015. I hope to do more than that, but, keeping with my new outlook, I am not going to consider the number of stories I put out there the only factor which determines my relative success in the future. There’s a lot of other stuff I can do to keep improving, and some starts with this blog. I had a bunch of ideas for what I wanted to use this platform for this year, and most of them never materialized. The good news is that I can take this as an opportunity to assess where I am and what I can do in the near future. With some more work, and an increased level of commitment, I know that I can make this site something worth visiting.
I will come out of this year with a ton of new experiences behind me, having learned a great deal about what it means to be a writer and what it’s going to take for me to keep improving. There’s value in everything I’ve learned in 2014, even the multitude of new questions that I am faced with as I continue to answer some of the ones that have been nagging me for so long.
My thanks go out to everyone that continues to offer their support to me, helping me along my ever-twisting, many-forked path. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people that know how strange I am, and still haven’t run away screaming. There’s still time for that, of course, but I think I’ve managed to convince everyone that I’m human…ish.
There’s not much left of the year now, but hopefully I’ll have a few more posts up here before we dive into 2015. Be on the lookout for a list of my favorite books I read this year, and perhaps a couple of other interesting bits for everyone to read as we close out the year. Just in case I don’t get on here again in the next week and a half, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, and I hope that we can all look forward to making 2015 a success in our own way.