I know; everyone does one of these. But it’s Christmas, and the family is about to descend on us for an extravaganza of assorted wackiness that seems to go along with celebrating a holiday.
So let’s take a quick look at last year. My major goal was to publish ten times, because volume is important in indie publishing, and I was still a very new writer (now I’m merely a somewhat new writer). So far, I’ve published nine times- six novels and three short stories. I’m not sure if I’ll get that last story out before New Year’s- less than a week to go and it’s only partly written. If I really wanted to fudge the numbers, I could say that I have an extra half-story floating around in the ether, a SF short that I submitted for an anthology. It was provisionally accepted but I haven’t heard anything from the editor in a couple of months, so I’m not convinced that counts as a publication.
That’s par for the course this year. I recently calculated my word counts for each month, and while I wasn’t completely idle, I could have done better. I think my highest word count month was about 35,000 words and my lowest was about 15,000 (actual numbers are in Colorado, because I wasn’t smart enough to bring the calendar with me). Not bad for a hobby writer, but I’m trying to make this a full time job that actually pays the bills.
Now I have to face up to the appalling truth that I neither completely failed nor fully succeeded in my goals during 2019. Either one might be easier; if I’d succeeded in publishing all ten times, I’d know that goal was realistic and could be used again next year. If I’d completely failed, I could beat myself over the head with that and possibly get some motivation out of it.
Since my accomplishments are a bit wishy-washy, I have to get creative with the analytics. I averaged 7-800 words a day last year, but that’s including days where I didn’t write at all. And I lumped in blog posts and journal entries along with the fiction. I don’t actually know how many words of publishable fiction came out of my brain (again, I have the numbers; they’re 2000 miles away). And of course, all of that fiction only translated into nine publications.
One should also take into account that I was travelling a lot last spring and fall, and I don’t work well in unfamiliar environments. This year will include moving across the country, which will cut into the writing time. I don’t know what sort of surroundings I’ll be in, starting this summer; we might be living in a house or an apartment, anywhere from New Haven, CT, to Albuquerque, NM. Fortunately, I do most of my writing on a laptop, and once I have a couple days to settle in, my ability to write comes back.
I also tried out a pen name. Anna Ferreira writes regency romance, though she only has one little novel to her name at the moment. Readers seem to be responding well to the name; after publishing Christmas at Blackheath, I got the usual sales spikes when it was linked at According to Hoyt and Ace of Spades- many thanks to both venues for your help in feeding this starving artist- but I also saw 2-5 sales a day even on non-linked days, when my average is about 1 sale per day for all the books I’ve written as Blake Smith. Apparently, people like Anna. Or maybe they’re buying more books because it’s Christmastime. I don’t have enough data to be sure.
All of this is to say that my goals for 2020 are a little more complicated than my goals for 2019. I want to keep up the publishing volume, and increase the writing volume. I want to collect more data on the pen name’s success (or failure, I guess). And I’d like to go back to writing fantasy. The Garia Cycle is in desperate need of some attention, and there’s another fantasy series nudging me. Since it includes people who can set things on fire with their minds, I probably shouldn’t ignore it.
In 2020, I will attempt to (in approximate order of importance):
-publish eight works of any length, because volume is important in indie publishing and realistic goals are for wimps
-within those eight works, at least three will be by Anna Ferreira, so, regency romance
-take better care of my health so I can write more
-return to The Garia Cycle, including a quick overhaul of the first two books to make them flow better and bring the style of language closer to my current style, as well as publishing Shattered Land and possibly Picking up the Pieces. I will also keep picking away at The Garian War and Son of the King.
-write an average of 1000 words a day
-do some serious world building in the Avalon universe. It needs it; this is the world where fire magic exists, so I get to invent a magic system. I will also work on plots for these stories (the characters are already almost fully developed).
-not go insane with worrying about a cross-country move to a currently unknown location (of all the goals, this one might be the hardest)
-make the cover art for at least one of my books
And these are just my writing-related goals. Hey, I’m going to be thirty next year; I’m supposed to work like a dog during this time of my life, right? Better than trying to do it at seventy. Luckily for me, I’ve gained some experience and a few mental tools that might make this easier, including the realization that if I’m fighting a book and it flatly refuses to cooperate, there’s probably something wrong with it and I need to go in another direction instead of banging my head against the wall. I had one book that refused to be written during my usual writing time- it would only show up in the evenings- and another that I actually scrapped when it was half-finished, because it was never going anywhere.
Maybe I should add ‘be more flexible’ to that list of goals.
Things to ponder, but not now. It’s Christmas. There’s a mountain of food and a collection of very fine people requiring my attention.
If you celebrate Christmas, may it be merry and bright. If you don’t, have a happy December 25th. Either way, I’ll see you in the new year.