Thursday, March 25, 2021

2021 Update: Hey, an Update!

I have been reluctant to update, since my last post was such a poetical, fitting last post for this blog. I talked about how I was about to turn 40, which marked the expiration of time to meet my writing goal. I shared how that goal had changed, how I no longer wanted to write for publication. And I mentioned that I'm thinking about a career change that would limit my time and ability to write for the foreseeable future. I even referenced the title of the blog!

That made for a wonderfully satisfying "The End" to the writing blog story.

Unfortunately, that's not how I work as a writer. Nothing is ever really finished. Especially me writing, as this blog has illustrated over and over the past decade. So, while I've stayed away from updating this blog for the last nearly four months, I haven't exactly been dormant when it comes to writing.

Well, I was totally dormant all of November, all but one day in December, and all of January. But! In February, I did some things!

Back up, though. Before I talk about this year, I need to take a moment to talk about last year, since I never did my end-of-the-year post. Because despite there being a pandemic, and despite my break-up with writing, I did make progress on things.

In 2020, I:

  • Wrote a total of 62, 650 words
  • Of those words, 22,618 were non-brainstorm words
  • I wrote at least one day in every month except November (ironic, no?)
  • My average of days worked each month (even with my zero month) was 6.75
  • I spent 75 hours editing my work
  • I finished my last outstanding Cafe story (and finally wrote the "Closing Time" post)
  • I finally finished Shane's MystWatch short story
  • I came up with two new novel ideas, one of which I wrote 3k on
  • I made progress on SP 2.3
  • I did another really great editing pass on Hunter's Blood, making it nearly perfect
  • I did another intensive editing read of Hunter's Torment and did an editing treatment for it
  • I started a homesteading/apocalypse blog

That's all the writing stuff I did in a year I had totally given up on it. And of course, by totally giving up, I mean I didn't really want to do much writing, but I pushed myself to work. A lot of times I did that to help Rachel out. But I also did it to help myself out.

Because despite turning 40 and not reaching the main goal I set when I started this blog, it's been a hell of a journey, and I don't want to stop, now. I spent an afternoon the other day reading back over the earlier years of this blog. Little baby Sara was so full of hope and motivation and big ideas and plans. It was fun to read about her getting serious. To watch as she felt out her process. To see the evolution of her writing. To watch her give up and then go back to it, time and time again.

The Sara from this blog is a damned inspiration. She went from never having finished a full-length novel (and honestly not finishing all that many short stories), to writing two complete novels, a novella, and several short stories in the first year. She worked hard and made progress and didn't give up even when all odds were stacked against her (or if she did give up, she went back to work, just as hard).

Who am I, 40-year-old Sara, to dishonor how hard 30-year-old-Sara worked to get to this point by giving up, now? I've written something like six books and a hundred short stories at this point (a gross estimation, but probably fairly close, give or take).

And the real truth is, I miss it. I mostly miss having written, because it's still the coolest feeling in the world, reading something I've written and being amazed at how good it is (or, at the very least, how much I, subjectively, love it). But I also miss losing myself for hours as I explore a world I see in my mind. How characters take on lives of their own. How fitting each scene together is like putting a puzzle together. How going on long walks helps me work out story kinks. And I really, really miss sitting at Dillon's with my writing buddies talking about all things writing for hours and hours and finally settling in for thirty minutes of writing before we have to leave.

So! New decade, new goals. Different goals. I still want to write. But the goals are going to be things that I can control. Getting a book published is outside of my control. Even if I had done everything right (which I'm still not sure I did), the outcome could have been the same. Besides, the book publishing world is a weird place these days, and being any sort of public figure a tricky business. I know that writing for myself is a less motivating strategy, but it seemed like I was happiest, and wrote some of my favorite stuff, when I was still just practicing writing. So I'd like to get back to that.

This seems like a good year to get back to my roots. Write the stuff I want to read. Focus on finishing up stories (but only the ones I still love). Push myself when I feel the desire to write, but back off when I don't. Try to get at least 5k words written each month, and hopefully write at least 7 days each month.

And I have made a few overtures toward those ends already.

In February, I really tried to get the writing group to help me with some sort of short story prompt project. Similar to the Cafe, but without posting on a public platform. That, sadly, only lasted about a week before I grew bored. Not sure if it was writing that I grew bored with, or my ideas, or the lack of interest from other writers in what I had hoped would be an exciting way to breathe new life into all of our writing.

As much as all of that failed, I did brainstorm ideas for three short stories, one of which I even started (a Makai MystWatch short, of all things). I even threw a few thousand words on SP 2.3. I wrote a total of 4.1k words in February, and 3k of those were narrative words, not brainstorm.

Of course, it's a week from the end of March, and I have yet to do any writing this month, brainstorm or otherwise. But. The last few days I've been in the mood. I'm hoping by writing this blog (and having read over it earlier this week), I can muster up some motivation and write at least a few of the days left in this month.

So that's this year's update so far. I am still not sure I'll update every month. It'll depend on my progress and my feelings about said progress. But I want this blog to be more fun. Toward the end of the decade, it was a slog of my publishing plans and what my next big project was and how that fit into my five-year or ten-year plan. Which, was important, then. I was trying to figure out if I could make any money self-publishing, and if I could keep submitting traditionally while I tried to make money myself. It was a stressful balancing act that relied on me creating a certain amount of product to keep it all going. But despite amazing progress for three years, it wasn't a pace I could keep up. Especially with the mounting pile of rejections. So, as I mentioned, I'm going back to my roots for the next ten years of this blog.

I may never recapture the magic of those early days. And now that I'm a decade older, my passions and interests have changed, so I may never write the kinds of things I used to. But I want to keep writing. Even if it's only a handful of days each month. Even if it takes me a year to finish even one book or get one SP adventure completed.

Maybe as the year plods along, I'll tweak my goals. But for now, I'm keeping it simple, and following the spirited and elusive unicorn that is the magic of my writing.