Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014 In Review

I have returned from my self-imposed blogging exile. Welcome to 2015! How was your 2014? I know I'm a little late to the 2014 Wrap Up Post Party, but I've been out of town for a couple of weeks on vacation, so I'll ask you to forgive my tardiness.

In a change from last year, I realized at some point this year that it was kind of ridiculous to structure my entire calendar around NaNoWriMo. Not that I don't love NaNoWriMo or anything. I do. I love NaNoWriMo. But it's not really feasible to structure my professional plans around it. Especially when it's entirely possible, and likely, that I won't be participating in it every single year forever.

The ridiculousness became apparent, by the way, when I tried explaining my structure to the Project Manager. Lots of weird patterns I've fallen into start looking ridiculous when I try to explain them to him. Funny how that works.

So I switched over to just ending my year at the end of the calendar year like pretty much everyone else. Which had the added incentive of giving me an extra three months to finish things up and let me put off my year-end reporting as well. BONUS!

But here we sit at the beginning of 2015 and the year isn't getting any younger, which means it's time for me to get on with things. How did I do in 2014?

Goal #1: Finish the zero draft of Familiar by January 31, 2014.
What's the Status? Unmet. :-( Familiar has gone into the digital drawer. I still love the concept, but the execution just wasn't there.
What Went Wrong? The timing on this project strung out too long and the story had too many flaws to finish it in a reasonable amount of time. The Idea Salesman already talked about this here when I made the decision not to continue.
What Went Right? Well. . .  I'm going to have to file this one under a learning experience. As in I learned a lot about how not to finish a novel. For example. . .
What Have I Learned From This? I cannot string out deadline after deadline after deadline. The longer this project took, the harder it got for me to find any motivation to work on it at all. I got so bored with it and eventually saw nothing but the problems it had.
What Are My Next Steps? There are no next steps currently planned for this project.

Goal #2: Write a zero draft of Guardian by September 30, 2014.
What's the Status? Unmet. :-( Guardian is also going into the digital drawer.
What Went Wrong? Good grief, what didn't go wrong with this project? Personal problems, medical problems, major replotting and rewriting. So many things went wrong.
What Went Right? I think I hit on a really strong voice with this one and my plotting process got a lot more refined this time around. Plus, this was the first project I really worked with the Project Manager on, which has thus far turned out to be a good thing.
What Have I Learned From This? Plotting and planning really does help me draft faster. Those times when I wasn't getting totally derailed by my stupid life anyway. . .
What Are My Next Steps? There are no next steps currently planned for this project.

Goal #3: Write, revise, and submit a short story (TBD) by September 30, 2014.
What's the Status? Met! :-) Okay, so technically this was a piece of flash fiction, not a short story, but that's really just a very short short story, so it totally counts.
What Went Wrong? Nothing. Seriously, I can't think of a single thing that went wrong with this one.
What Went Right? Everything. I wrote it. I revised it. I submitted it. AND I SOLD IT!!!!! Yes, 2014 marks the year the Idea Salesman convinced someone to pay me for my writing and I officially became a professional writer.
What Have I Learned From This? Apparently my writing really can be worth the investment of someone else's time and money. Also, having something out on submission does still make me stupid anxious and nauseated every time my email dings. And I get a lot of email.
What Are My Next Steps? I'm expecting edits on "Time Out" sometime in the next month or so.

Goal #4: Work the blog up to 4 regular posts per week.
What's the Status? Met :-)
What Went Wrong? I did get myself up to the point where I was writing 4 regular posts a week. And it just about killed me. It was so hard to keep up with that schedule.
What Went Right? I think there was the occasional hit on this blog from actual humans. Still mostly bots, but, you know, real humans from time to time.
What Have I Learned From This? I cannot at this time sustain a four posts per week schedule. It's just too much. Also, it seems that flash fiction is a thing you can sell (see Goal #3) and so I'm going to stop putting that up on the blog. Because what am I going to do there? Only offer up the not-quite-good-enough stuff? That doesn't seem like a good blogging strategy.
What Are My Next Steps? Drop back to a three posts per week plan and get back to a regular schedule.

Goal #5: Create more regularly scheduled writing time, working up to 15 hours per week.
What's the Status? Met. :-)
What Went Wrong? 15 hours a week is just not feasibly possible on a long-term basis for me. I did get up to 15 hours a week at one point, but I was so exhausted from staying up so late that I couldn't maintain it.
What Went Right? As I said, I did get up to 15 hours a week at one point and those writing sessions were very productive. It's not something I can sustain right now, but it's nice to know for the future.
What Have I Learned From This? Longer stretches of uninterrupted writing time does make me more productive. Also, I need at least six hours of sleep a night to get through the day, so staying up to work past 10:30 is not an option for me.
What Are My Next Steps? Drop back down to 10-12 hours of writing per week and get back to maintaining a regular schedule.

So, that was my 2014. A few big unmet goals there, but I learned many things and I think I'm finally getting a clear handle on my process. Plus I get to call myself a professional now, so I'm calling the year a win.

That said, what's on the list for 2015? I've spent a lot of time now developing my process and figuring out things that don't work for me. No more of that. 2015 is all about finishing things. A year of short stories. Well, mostly. I've got ideas for another novel in the works too.

Goals for 2015:
1: Revise and submit "Fishwife" (which still needs a real title) by April 30, 2015.
2: Write, revise, and submit at least three additional short stories or pieces of flash fiction by August 15, 2015.
3: Plan, plot, and begin next novel project, targeting ~40,000 words of the zero draft by December 31, 2015.
4: Maintain the blog at three posts per week.
5: Continue to schedule 10-12 hours of dedicated writing time each week.

The Idea Salesman in over the moon about this new plan. Lots of things going out into the world this time around. The Muse and the Inner Editor. . . well, they're gearing up for a marathon. I don't know about the Project Manager. More projects means more tables and charts and stuff on his spreadsheets, so I assume he's happy about it. He'll be checking in on Monday, so I guess we'll find out more then.

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