So… 2016. That was something, wasn’t it? Some ups, some downs. But, all in all, it was certainly 366 days of, well, interesting events. But, enough about that. This post is about what I did in 2016 (or didn’t do) and what my plans are for the coming year.
To wrap up the past year, what have I got to look back on? Sadly, not a lot. Since I set out to “seriously pursue” this writing thing about five years ago, 2016 has got to be one of the absolute least productive years I’ve had. Just by sheer word count, it was utter shit. I wrote almost nothing new this year and nothing was finished. Not gonna make excuses (much). There was one major highlight out of 2016, and for me, it was a pretty big one. My first novel, Frostwalker, was released as an audiobook, narrated by Jack Wallen. It’s been somewhat successful, and my future novels will almost certainly be going to audio when they are released. Seriously, if you’re an indie author, do not overlook audiobooks!
I’ve talked about it before, but the current day job I have is simply exhausting, mentally and physically. That said, I’ve been trying to make progress. That lack of time and energy isn’t the only thing holding me back – I’ll get back to that in a moment.
First, there’s something that needs to be said. The past year and a half of this “new” job has brought about changes in my life that are still being figured out. It’s not just the exhaustion and demands the job puts on my time. For most of my adult life, we’ve been poor. Varying from just “first world poor” to some close calls that have nearly put us on the streets. Without the support system of extended family, we would never have made it. Now, at last, we’ve reached a place that we’ve never been at before – we’re more or less financially secure and self-supporting. It’s hard to describe what it’s like, and 18 months later, we’re still discovering ways that this has changed our lives. This is a good thing, but man does it ever cost a lot in time and energy. It’s not easy to put into words, but if you’ve ever been poor and finally made it (most of the way) out of that, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. So, this past year has been amazing in a lot of ways, but it’s been a big adjustment.
So, back on topic, what was it that made the past year such a disappointment with regards to my writing? I think, mainly, I’ve gotten stuck in a first draft hole. Those who have been following me the past couple of years have heard about my second novel, currently under the title A Man With A Gun. The first draft of AMWAG was finished on February 8th of 2015 – damned near 2 years ago. That date was also the end of my last solid stretch of daily writing. Since that time, I’ve had a few weeks here and there where I put in some words on a couple of small projects that may or may not become finished works. But, I keep getting stalled and losing motivation.
What happened? Well, once that draft was finished, I hit the brakes and decided to breathe for a bit. Meanwhile, I set about finding beta readers for AMWAG. It’s been hard to do. I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding people to read the manuscript, mainly because my usual readers are unavailable, or just too busy. Some have read it, both from my usual suspects, and a few new folks. I’ve gotten some feedback, and a lot of it is looking really good. Meanwhile, I had those side projects that I kept trying to work on, but they kept fizzling and stalling for me.
The issue arises due to a personal quirk I have. To put it simply, I don’t like having too much going on at one time. This has always been the way of things with my creative outlets. I don’t like working on something when another project is calling for my attention. Part of becoming a better author is getting to know how to access your creativity and how you work. Discovering what is the process that works for you. For me, while I know it’s maybe not the best or most efficient process, it really is difficult to move forward on one project while another is unfinished.
Right now, it feels like A Man With A Gun is what should be the focus (and it should be, I think). However, due to the scattered way the beta reading has been going, one or two readers here and there, always someone new going through it, I keep waiting on all the feedback.
Looking back, I should have set a deadline for when to end the beta phase. It’s been too easy for me to set aside other projects and tell myself, well, right now AMWAG is what I’m working on, so this just can’t have my focus. It became a crutch. So, to end that, I’m going to set that deadline here and now. The first round of revisions on A Man With A Gun is going to start February 1st of this year. So, if by chance you are currently one of the folks reading the manuscript for me, having your feedback to me before then would be nice. If you’re interested in reading the first draft, feel free to drop me a line, but be quick about it!
Another goal, this one a little less solidly defined: I want to have A Man With A Gun released before the end of the year. Should be easy to hit that one… Then again, I had hoped to have it out last year.
But, that’s not all that’s going on in 2017. There’s another (somewhat major) endeavor I’m hoping to undertake. As most of my followers know, I’m also a gamer. While my gaming has taken a serious hit, and obviously, I have to balance my very limited free time with the writing, I do plan to use it as another creative outlet.
To that end, I (and my wife) plan to begin streaming video game sessions on a regular basis. This will be another way for me to connect with you folks out there. If you’re the sort who likes to game, and especially if you enjoy livestreams, please consider stopping by. Most of my streaming will probably be late night, since I am (and always have been) the second shift sort. If the streaming works out, I hope to bring it together with my writing platform as a part of how I interface with those of you out in the wider world.
So, that’s that. Here’s hoping that 2017 will be a productive year! Good luck out there!