And so 2017 draws to a close. I for one can not be more relieved.
This year has been a tumultuous one indeed: I moved countries, got married, began a new day-job, bought my first car, and moved again (domestically this time); I said goodbye to my Grandmother, a second mother who raised me alongside my own; and lost two public figures (Chester Bennington and Kim Jonghyun), who have been a source of love, comfort and inspiration, to this terrible illness called depression, of which I also chronically suffer. It really has been all over the place–I have been all over the place. Personal rollercoaster aside, though, and my writing career(?) has been a pleasantly stable fixture. Let’s take a look.
THE YEAR THAT WAS
What I Read:
Admittedly, I fell short of my reading goals for this year. Twenty-five titles in 12 months for a snail who averages one book every three was perhaps a little lofty. I’d like to blame my lack of reading on all the reasons previously mentioned but a great deal of my free time (that which doesn’t go to writing) is lost to video games and tumblr. I am human after all.
Of the twenty-three titles I actively attempted, seventeen were completed; four were started then chucked into the read-again-at-a-later-date (maybe) pile; and two were straight-up DNF–John Gwynne’s tediously written mantasy epic Malice, and Lian Hearn’s bitterly disappointing The Tale of Shikanoko. I do hope to finish Interview with the Vampire in the future–I was listening to an audio version–but am not 100% committed to The Bane Chronicles, Prince of Thorns or Left Hand of Darkness. I have a feeling Ursula leGuin and I are not going to be the best of friends and, while there was nothing wrong with Prince of Thorns, I didn’t like any of the characters so I wasn’t overly compelled to find out what happens to them. As for The Bane Chronicles … what can I say? My love for Harry Shum Jr as Magnus Bane in the horridly trashy yet strangely addictive Shadowhunters TV show does not transcend into the written word. I don’t particularly care for Cassandra Clare‘s prose nor does the character shine as much as he does on screen. Disappointing.
Moving on to the books I did stick with to completion and I’m pleased to say it was a fairly decent year, averaging a respectable 3.5 stars, made of up some truly wonderful reads and some far less ones. I’m actually struggling to pick a favourite title this year because when the books were good they were good. To make things easier for myself by excluding books part of a series I’m yet to complete, I am left with three: Uprooted, the Golem and the Djinni and the Darkest Part of the Forest. All written by female authors, I might add–go girls, go! I can honestly say I adored each and every one of these books and the stories and their characters are still with me now at year’s end. But, gun to my head, and I’d have to say the Darkest Part of the Forest takes home the accolade due to the outrageous speed my slow-arse devoured it. Holly Black has been a great discovery for me in 2017 and, having received Coldest Girl in Coldtown for Christmas and eagerly awaiting her soon-to-be-released Cruel Prince, I feel this relationship is only going to heat up in the year to come.
I finished 2017 in the middle of three titles:
- His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire) – Naomi Novik 62%
- Puppet Master, Vol 4 – Miyuki Miyabe 46%
- The Obelisk Gate – N K Jemisin 45%
Technically, I have also started Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) and Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) but haven’t touched those for months and will no doubt restart from the beginning once I conquer my current reads.
You can see My Year in Books over on my Goodreads page.
What I Wrote:
As of December 31st, the second draft of Garden of the Gods sits at 46 563 words, which is approximately half-way through the rewritten manuscript. Despite my initial plans to have had this draft with beta readers in November, I’m not entirely disappointed with my progress. The major plot and structural changes I had to make to Book One, now tentatively titled Torn Sky, are finally coming together and I’m really getting excited for beta readers to jump in and shoot off some external feedback. The prose is tighter across the board compared to the first draft, which I had been working on for three years prior to completing it November 16 2016. So things are moving slowly. But they are moving.
In addition to the progress made on Garden of the Gods I published a handful of book reviews and the following short stories:
- [teaser 01] the morning of
- [teaser 02] the collector’s lost things
- [short story] the cottage on peppercorn tree hill
A number of other short stories and additional teasers are in the works and should be published here throughout the course of 2018.
THE YEAR THAT WILL BE
I’m not one for making goals as I hate failing and my own expectations are often hard to meet. One of the big changes I hope to implement in 2018 is to make myself accountable for my own achievements. I’m going to set deadlines for my work and I’m going to reach them, not shrug them off because I only have myself to answer to. In my personal life, I hope to live by a simple More/Less structure:
- move more/eat less
- read more/watch less
- write more/play less
- smile more/worry less
Career-wise I have given myself far less ambiguous goals as I have mapped out the entire year and where I want to be with my writing. Because life happens, I didn’t want to be so rigid in setting specific dates and times for things to happen so have instead broken the year into quarters and assigned actions I wish to take place in them:
- Finish Torn Sky
- Build online presence (that means more content for this bad boy!)
- Decide between traditional and indie publishing options
- Send Torn Sky to beta readers (now seeking volunteers)
- Begin work on Book Two: Blood of Demons
- Continue rolling out blog content
- Consolidate returned beta comments
- Address feedback and complete final edits of Torn Sky
- Begin querying/approaching graphic designers
- Continue Book Two–aiming for 80% completion of first draft
- Publish Torn Sky teasers on blog
All of this is building to my ultimate goal of being a published author–however that may occur–before November 2019, when I will turn dirty thirty. If everything flows smoothly along my desired trajectory, then books two and three will be released in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
In addition to all this writing and work on making myself known I have pledged to read 20 books in 2018, most of which I intend to be finishing series I started in 2017. This includes but not limited to Shades of Magic (VE Schwab), Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson), The Witcher (Andrzej Sapkowski), The Raven Cycle (Maggic Steifvater), Puppet Master (Miyuki Miyabe) and The Broken Earth (N.K Jeminsin). Stand alone titles on the TBR this year include They Both Die at the End (Adam Silvera), Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) and The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood).
It’s going to be a busy year. But (currently) I am positive! I’m not going to have the same issues with books two and three of Garden of the Gods as I have had with Torn Sky. I don’t intend on rewriting entire manuscripts from scratch after completing the first draft, as I have done with the first installment. There were serious plot and character issues that came to light the more I worked on Torn Sky and so rather than start again again (again-again-again: this story has been with me since 2004) I pushed through just to get to the end. I am confident this time (I hope) I now have everything where I want it to be and have set up the through-line to carry the rest of the series.
Having taken the effort to put a timeline in place (albeit a rough one) I hope I can stay motivated enough to actually follow it through. With everything that happened in 2017, I’ve learned nothing if not life is short; that passion can drive you anywhere; and that just because my mental illness tells me I’m a untalented piece of rubbish, doesn’t mean the world will agree with it.
Come at me, twenty-eighteen.