2017 Writing Year in Review

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2017 has been a rollercoaster year.  In my wider world, the political landscape has been oversaturated with scandal, controversy, and fear.  In my financial world there have been a lot of ups and down, but we’ve managed to keep our heads above water.  In the world of my little two-person family, there have been a few very major lows as well as a few major highs, the top of which has been my husband’s graduation.  I’m not going to get into details on any of that.  I’m just going to look at the rollercoaster my writing has been on this year.

Writing has always been something that was as much about me, and what I needed to work through emotionally or grapple with intellectually as it is about telling a good story or sharing my work.  A lot of what I write never sees the light of day for that reason.  This year, I haven’t had as much time and energy for writing, so I’ve done less writing than I would have liked.  There’s been a lot of stress in my life and a lot of demands that have to come before my writing.  This is where most of the rollercoaster has come into play.  One month I may have too little time but another month I may do better.  Overall, it has been a reasonably productive year.

One of the things I’ve tried to focus on this year is the revisions for the second book in my Swords and Shields series.  This book has already been three years in the making.  I had a rough draft before releasing the first book, Strong Fort Spathí, but the revisions have taken a long time.  Part of this is because I enjoy drafting more than I enjoy revision.  Part of this is because this book has needed a lot of work.  It was originally far too long, so I played around with breaking it into two books, but that didn’t work with the plot and character arcs, so I combined it all again.

One of the things I’m worst at with revision is cutting, but I tried to be very intentional about what I kept and what I cut.  I managed to shorten the book by about half as well as tighten up the plot and completely rework the second half.  I still need a better beginning, but I almost always do.  The beginning is usually the last thing I finalize.

I sent the book out to beta readers in October, and I began to get responses back in mid-December.  So my goal for January is to get through all the feedback they’ve given me and really work hard on the next draft.  From some preliminary discussions with my beta readers, it’s going to be a lot of work again.  This includes potentially reworking the cast of characters in some major ways.  I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Outside of that, I’ve done a little drafting here and there on some fanfic as well as a few original pieces.  I’ve been trying to decide how the vampires in my world function and introduce them in a book related to the Wiccan University in the series.  I’ve made two attempts, neither of which I’ve finished and neither of which I’m particularly happy with.  I think I will be able to take the good elements from the two drafts and come up with something that will actually work.

One thing that’s been different this year compared to past years, is how long I often go without writing.  Usually, the longest I’d go between writing sessions would be a few days, possibly a week.  This past year there were a few month-long stretches of no writing.  I think this is partially because I hadn’t been reading enough.  As odd as that may sound, reading a lot and reading often, helps me replenish my creative energy.  To write well, you have to read extensively, especially in the genres you write.

I’ve been reading a lot more lately, which should help with my writing productivity.  I also wrote every day in November, which is always a good kick start to my writing habit.  NaNoWriMo is an important part of my year.  I’m looking forward to getting back together with my fellow WriMos for write-ins come January.

All that is to say that it’s been a heck of a year.  I’ve accomplished a few things I’m proud of, I’ve made a lot of progress on my next book, and I’m going into the new year with a plan to get more writing done.  I hope that things in my wider world will settle down a bit, and I’ll be able to focus more on my writing.  That’s my major goal for next year.

How was your past year?  And do you have any major goals for the new one?  Any writing specific goals?  I’d love to hear what everyone else is striving for.

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