As 2015 comes to an end and 2016 pops up to take its place, I’m looking back and looking ahead in my life and in my writing. And, of course, wishing you all a Happy New Year!Looking Back: All in all, 2015 was a pretty good year for me and mine. My family is doing well, with everyone healthy and happy and moving ahead in their lives, so my number one priority is well set. I took some time to count my blessings and to celebrate some of the progress I made as a writer on a few fronts.
- I got some serious writing done. Not enough, never enough, but I did manage to write an entire 65,000-word first draft of my novel over the summer, with support through Camp NaNoWriMo. I walked through the prep step-by-step here in the blog, and then buckled down to finish 50,000 words in a month and push on to the full 65,000-word first draft. I’m really proud of this accomplishment. Then — life got in the way. The Fall 2015 semester was a very heavy one for me, teaching more courses than I usually do, including a major revision to one course, and I was barely keeping up with the daily requirements for course planning and grading along with all the committee work I was involved in. This boils down to a whiny set of excuses for why I’ve done hardly any writing since then, at least not on the book.
- I made some connections with other folks. It started small, just joining a local group of fantasy/science fiction writers called R-SPEC (Rochester Speculative Literature Association). I also joined up with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where we all post once a month about how our writing trials are going in a safe and supportive atmosphere. I got brave enough to actually read the first few pages of my novel, all polished up, at the R-SPEC meeting, and it went pretty well.
- I kept up with this blog. Not as much lately as I would like (see the point above about this past semester sucking down everything else), but I did keep going. I passed the one-year birthday in July and my 100th post in October (which I didn’t notice when it went by, so I didn’t commemorate that!), and I have 81 followers as of now. I took the Blogging 101 course through WordPress and learned some useful things that have made the blog better. Looking back at my older posts I notice some definite improvements:
- The images are much better quality than the hand-drawn or crudely-constructed ones I started with.
- I’m using the “Continue reading” link, making it easier to scroll through the blogs and decide which ones to open.
- Initially the blog was just about me, writing; now it’s much more. I’ve got comments on the changing seasons and essays on life and reviews of books and discussions of larger book-related issues and psychology-related things and general fun stuff. I’ve also started posting something on the WordPress Photo Challenge most weeks (though I haven’t managed to hit them all), and they generally go beyond just the photo to add some commentary that (to me, at least) seems meaningful.
Looking ahead: There are definite goals I’d like to reach in 2016.
- Revise the book. This is an obvious one. I’d like to have the draft revised and polished by the end of the academic year in June, if possible, but definitely by the end of summer, and then get going on the endless treadmill that is the submission process. And, of course, start the second book while the first makes its rounds.
- Branch out more on the blog. I’m going in the right direction, but want to go farther. I want to be more consistent about re-blogging awesome posts from other folks. I want to add more reviews and essays on a wider variety of topics. I want to do more commenting on the blogs that I read regularly, building stronger connections with other bloggers.
- Get (and give) regular feedback. I hope to join a writer’s group locally, where we will share work on a regular basis to get feedback. (The fact that I’m seeking this out means I’ve come a long way!) Having a deadline when a bunch of people are expecting me to have something ready is a great motivator. It got me through NaNoWriMo and through that little spurt of revision in November before reading to R-SPEC. I’m hoping it will get me through the revision process entirely.
So, good-bye 2015. You’ve been a good year, all things considered, and I was glad to know you. Glad to meet you, 2016. I hope we’ll be good friends!