Year in Review

2018 was an odd year for me. It started well, with high hopes for the novel that went on submission at the end of 2017--but as months went by, I lost hope. I got busy outlining a new project. This one proved difficult to get started. I tried two openings, searching for the right protagonist and the right voice, until I finally found it on the third try.

Once I found the voice, the novel started taking shape. I was still painfully slow, but eventually I had a zero draft, and then the first, rough edit out to alpha-readers at the end of November. I'm still waiting for most of them to come back to me, but the early indications are that it's not going to be a total disaster…

So that took most of my writing year. It must seem ridiculous to those who can knock out a novel in a month but I'm not that lucky/gifted. I'll take what I can get!

Another development this year--not really writing-related, or only at a very long stretch--is that I decided to scratch a very long itch and… go back to uni. I still can't believe it. See, back when I was young and hopeful, I wanted to study science, but got discouraged by an overly demanding high school teacher. So I followed my other passion and studied English and literature. But the itch never went away, and there's only so far that EdX or Coursera will take you. And so in October I took the plunge and just started my freshman year in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences…

I'm doing it part-time through Open University, which is well-reputed for providing degree courses long distance (with some in-person sessions and of course exams). I've spent my Christmas break factoring equations and reviewing high-school math… It's been a while! But so far it's bringing me joy, and makes a good counterweight to writing woes, so that's probably beneficial for my sanity…

Looking at my other goals for the year, I totally failed on the short-fiction front. It's never been my strength, but last year I didn't write a single new story. I edited a couple from the year before, but that's still nothing. Sometimes I tell myself I should write more shorts, but then I write them and don't sell them and wonder why I spent the time. Though, given I write three stories every two years no wonder I'm not selling much. Chicken, meet egg. Work it out, you two.

Goals for 2018

The first part is clear: gather feedback on novel, write another draft and polish and hopefully go on submission in spring.

Then things get complicated. If the novel sells, I guess I'll be writing a sequel. I don't really want to, but I don't entirely hate the idea, either, and the publishers today almost always want sequels.

If the novel doesn't sell, then… well, I'll need to re-evaluate. I don't know how many times I can take this still. But let's not go there, yet. It's a new year and a new novel, so hope is in order.

Short fiction:

Write a story? Maybe?


Last year I identified two craft issues that I wanted to work on: enriching body language and using it to deepen the subtext, and work on conveying the character's emotions (vs. just their thoughts). I think I did better in these areas in the new novel, but it will remain something I work on in this year.

My other goal will be to write faster/more efficiently. I can never hope of doing 10k days that are the norm for some, but I want to get beyond 1-2k words taking me a whole day. This will be especially important now as I have study work to do. I'll never be a fast writer, but I've got to be better than that.

On a personal note, I hope my elbow injury will heal so I can get back to fencing. I'll be seeng a specialist early in January, fingers crossed!

I'm rising a glass to the New Year--here's hoping it'll be a good one.


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