Inward marches 2009

January 11, 2009 in General Topics

And it’s time to look back on the last. Overall, disappointing, honestly. I think my quality of work has gone up, but when I look back over 2008, it was a dismal year for publication creds. Only five sales. Eep.

There were some other perks this year — I had a ton more fiction in audio, I feel like I expanded meager word of mouth about my work, and I made some great new friends in the biz and otherwise. To top it off, I had stories hit pro-level editor’s desks on two separate occasions, and at some frakkin’ major markets. As in, passed first round of slush into the finals. One of them is still there, and I’m still holding out hope on it.

But I’m still disappointed.

This is usually the point in a writer’s blog where they list all the killer things they’ll do over the next year. I’m not going to. Nothing sabotages an effort more than framing it in the context of a New Year’s resolution.

Let me just say this — I’m going to work towards putting a very special project in the wild, and I’m going to work on improving my craft. This will be the year that sees me writing only what absolutely grabs me and refuses to let me go. No longer will I chase half-motivated ideas. It is like plucking unripened fruit. You can call it fruit, but it’s still sour. My best-received work has been that which kicked down my door in the middle of the night and made me type it up at gunpoint. That’s what I’m sticking with.

Notice I said “best-received”. You readers and listeners are my barometer for my craft. Thank you so much for being so encouraging and at times so constructive over the past year. I ask you to please continue following my work over the next year, send some of that priceless feedback (no matter the nature) my way. Have a fantastic New Year. God bless.

Stay tuned.

2007 in Review

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 – 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 – 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.