January 2, 2008 in General Topics
At this traditional time of reflection I’ve looked back over 2007, which will forever stand out as the year I got truly immersed in the world of writing fiction. This led to a mixed bag of blessings and disappointments, and upon review, I realized I still have some way to go before I’m firing on all cylinders in this ideal career of mine. I’ve also become somewhat disillusioned with various things I’ve seen within the fiction-writing community itself.
I learned that humility isn’t at all predictable. I guess the biggest lesson I’ve taken from this year is to watch out for cults of personality. The people in the center tend to get wrapped up in themselves. And that’s unfortunate. It’s counterproductive to the very thing we’re all supposed to be doing â€“ getting more readers interested in speculative fiction.
As disappointing as a few stand-outs are, most of the community is honestly good people. I found myself pleasantly surprised at the demeanor of quite a few authors, whom almost always seemed warm and welcoming. Really, with the exception of a few bad eggs, the entire lot is pretty decent. Everywhere I went, I found that the truly gifted were often the most laid-back and humble; the least pretentious. You can’t teach professionalism, but these folks seem to have self-schooled themselves. It’s no surprise that many of them achieved great success over this past year (and I’ll give you a hint — I’ve linked to many of them).
Of course, I made quite a few mistakes myself. I learned the value of double-checking the impression a comment might give — before hitting “post”. I learned not to benchmark my successes against the achievements of others. Jealousy tried to creep in, so I stifled it.
My fiction writing itself went well this year, though not as well as I’d have liked. I achieved four additional sales, and some of those were to fairly prominent publications. There’s also one that came in very recently (I’ll fill you in on a later post), which will be number five if everything with the contract works out.
Looking at this one way, it’s a disappointment, as I had targeted ten fiction sales this year. On the other hand, my momentum really picked up from fall onward â€“ November and December were strong months for me, in particular. I don’t know whether to take heart from the growing momentum among my fiction sales, or chalk it up as coincidence.
I do know that I am determined to tackle next year with renewed intensity. Too many times this past year I skipped days writing, or only got by with a few hundred words per session. That hurt my output, and tempered my ability to make a few tales as intense as I wanted, at least on the first drafts. As an example, I’m still sitting on three tales I intended to have edited and in the wild before 2008 smacked me in the face.
This isn’t entirely due to circumstances in my control. The workload at my day job really spiked this year which, although bringing accolades and rewards I was very grateful for, really cut into my writing time. It’s doubly hard to find the enthusiasm for sitting in front of a computer when you’re coming off a fifteen-plus hour day of having already done the same. To top it off, I’ve been battling some other personal stumbles that have been anything but conducive to regular dances with words. I can’t tell you what they are, but if you knew, you’d understand.
Luckily I have the support of a wonderful wife, a caring family, and my faith. It’s not I that’s achieved anything. Praise belongs solely to these positive influences.
I am determined to regain my footing in 2008. I’m resetting the score card and targeting at least ten sales again. And this year, I’m going to try and nail one of those elusive pro-market sales.
As always, I thank everyone out there for their support along the way. Happy New Year, and good luck.