2016 was a shit year in a lot of ways. For an arbitrary collection of days a lot of bad things happened and I, for one, have been looking forward to the chance to reset my goals and expectations with the arrival of the new year. But in order for the magic that is assigned meaning to work, I have to not only make plans for the future, but look at where I've been for the last twelve months. (Figuratively. We all know I've been right here.)
So, before I lay out goals for this new series of months, let me, briefly look back at the past year.
I started the year off with the publication of my collection of short stories, The Weather's Always Fine in Paradise. While the majority of these stories had been published elsewhere previously, many of them had disappeared from the web as various markets closed down or took down older content. And it gave me the opportunity to share three stories that had gotten a lot of "nice, but not quite" rejections over the years.
The release of that book was quickly followed by a contract with Falstaff Books for a trilogy of Southern Gothic novellas, Touch. And the first, Of Lips and Tongue, was released at the end of June.
I also began co-writing a series of short stories with Eric S. Brown for the Grantville Gazette, featuring his characters, The Monster Society. Altogether we have written five short stories and three have been published to date (with the last two forthcoming a little later in the spring).
In addition to those short stories, I wrote the second Touch novella - Of Shade and Soul, forthcoming January 2017. And I finished the first volume of an SF epic, Survivor, that is steampunk and post-apocalyptic and character driven and has no magic whatsoever. It's also close to 700 pages, by far the longest thing I've ever written. (There was also the Sparkly, Emo, Vampire Goat story I wrote in the week leading up to Christmas - 8k words worth of funny, subverted fairy tale.)
So those were the positive personal things I accomplished in 2016, which leads me into my goals for the new year.
A couple of years ago I moved away from more general goals to focus on project-oriented goals. This was in part because life is chaotic and I was beating myself up for the portions of the year (and they are there no matter which year it is) when I can't get my butt in my chair and write every day or I just can't get as many words on the page as I'd like. (See this past September when I battled carpal tunnel issues and dropped my weekly wordcounts to about 1/10 of what they were in July and August.)
There are two projects already on my plate for 2017.
1. The third/final novella in the Touch trilogy (Of Flesh and Bone) which will come out late spring or early summer if things go as planned. (There will also be both an audio book and print collection of all three novellas, following the release of the third novella in eBook format.)
2. A super-secret project that I'm hoping to be able to announce by the end of January.
I'd also like to:
- Start the second volume of the Epic Not Fantasy.
- Polish off a couple of novellas I've drafted over the past couple of years and then shelved because they weren't quite right.
- Work on an idea for a creator-owned comic book series.
In order to make that happen there will likely be daily and weekly wordcount goals, but those will be negotiated with myself as the year progresses and various deadlines present themselves. Due to the recovery from the carpal tunnel issues, I've found that 1k a day is pretty doable, but higher daily goals tend to aggravate.
But these are just the concrete goals, the tangible things that if I achieve them I can actually show folks "Here is this thing I've done and you can see it." I have other goals that are more personal and less quantifiable.
The biggest, and scariest, is writing the things I've been afraid to write*. I am encouraging myself to write those things that cut deep and challenge and are not safe at all. This latter is a thing which makes my anxiety plow through the roof because all of these word-things (books and short stories and various scripts) are meant to be building a career out of this work that I really love. But not safe can, sometimes, also mean not-sellable. And not-sellable is a difficult piece to fit into a burgeoning career.
But there are things I want to write that will not be written unless I stop trying to stay in the safe parts. And that's my primary goal for the year: to not write safely.
So, with all the assigned meaning I am capable of giving it, welcome to the new year. May 2017 be a year of keeping ones real-world loved ones safe, and making ones words decidedly dangerous.
*There are always projects that crop up that I have doubts about in regard to technical skill. But the really frightening ones are the ones that push social and political and spiritual boundaries. You know the ones, they always involved writing about That One Subject That is Very Personal For You.