Journal

A December 2021 Update

Phew! I cannot believe that November is already gone, and that we’re knee-deep in December already. This is going to be an absolutely nuts month, with WorldCon from 12/15-12/19, and family visiting for the holidays, among other things, equally as important. I’m also wrapping up the novel rewrite for the Write Your Novel class at AWC that I’ve been taking this year, and hoping to get it submitted this weekend so I can kick back and try to find a way to relax in all the chaos!

If you’re going to be heading to WorldCon this year, come find me! I’ll probably be kicking around the Apex table periodically, and on Friday (12/17) at 7pm, I’ll be participating in a Rapid-Fire Reading hosted by BroadUniverse.

^^^

Boy, what a year it’s been. It seems strange to be looking back on it now, when there’s still so much to go, but as far as my writing year goes, December is always a shot month. So when I did my monthly goal review for November, it struck me that really, this is about it. This is what I’m getting done this year.

Truth is, though, that I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished in 2021, despite the pandemic and all the other complicating factors that presented. And while there’s always room for improvement, it was a solid year. In stats:

2021 Goals Review

New Submissions: 4 / 4
New Rough Drafts: 11 / 5
New Summary Drafts: 0 / 1

Total Word Count: 173,811 / 100,000
Books Read: 35 / 52

Submission Attempts: 28
Personal Rejections: 1
Stories Sold: 2

Summary & Thoughts:

It was a solid year for new drafts. I started splitting my weeks between novel writing (M/T) and short story writing (W/Th/F), and that worked like a *charm*. It gave me space from the novel, which meant I hit the ground energized to get back to work on Mondays, and then by Wednesday (or Thursday, depending on how long it took to hit 3k on the novel) I could totally switch tack and think about something completely different. My brain liked that structure, so I’ll be doing that again come 2022.

Another thing I learned: submitting during the second half of the year is HARD for me. I’m not entirely sure why, though I suspect some seasonal depressive dips that just make evaluating and fighting with logic problems in stories extremely difficult. So in 2022, I’m going to try to hit my submission goals by June. I seem to have a lot more energy to tackle that kind of work early in the year, and then it’s like the gift that keeps giving: even during slumps, I can always resubmit something that bounces back to me, and that gives me a little boost of “I’m doing the work”-ness that helps pull me up out of the slump. Win-win!

I was doing pretty well on reading this year until June hit and school let out in conjunction with Thing 2 deciding that he *could* in fact go to sleep and stay asleep at night without my hand right next to him. This was both a blessing and a curse: it opened up my evenings for adult conversation and TV with Andy and the occasional pool game, but it also removed that enforced two hour reading block I used to have. So reading dropped off dramatically after that. I may end the year with a few more books under my belt, as I’ve got a couple that are close to done, but I’m not necessarily counting on it. Quiet reading time is at a premium right now. Next year, I’m just setting a smaller goal.

The most notable thing I’m going to try in 2022 is a big break from writing starting in mid-June and ending in mid-August (so basically, all of July + 2 weeks on either side). A few reasons for this:

1) This coincides with the end of the school year, when my schedule normally changes a lot, and I often struggle to find a “new normal” during that period;

2) I want to be able to enjoy my summer–as noted above, summers also tend to be when we travel, have visitors, and generally have no regularity, which makes keeping my writing schedule incredibly difficult and usually a source of major frustration. What’s more, I want to do different things during that time. I want to play. I want to participate in the local library’s reading challenge. I want to take non-writing classes and go to the beach and more than anything, I want to NOT feel guilty about not producing as many words as I usually do during the school year.

3) The real reason: it’s becoming clearer as I get older and start seeing mood patterns, that summer often brings a major emotional dip for me. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse, but either way, the creative energy drops heavily during that period. Guilt about “not getting writing done” plays into that, but even when I *am* getting the work done, I struggle. I can’t see my work clearly and get very easily discouraged. I’m hoping that by allowing myself to just spend time recharging, reading, trying new things, spending time with family, gathering new experiences, and generally filling the well, I’ll be able to better weather that time more effectively, and allow myself to relax after the spring push when I have more creative energy. That’s not to say I won’t write if something REALLY strikes me and I need to get it down. That’s fine. But I’m going to try to remove all expectation of productivity during that time and let myself have a playful summer break, too.

Then, right about mid-August, when school shopping starts, my creative energy comes rushing back. So I’m going to try that this coming year, and see how it goes.

Bonuses:

+ I sold two stories!
+ I had a positive review in Locus for one of my sci-fi pieces*
+ I wrote ELEVEN new short stories drafts!
+ I actually managed to tackle the FROSTHAVEN rewrite draft
+ I kept up with my work for the WYN course
+ I wrote over 170,000 words!

As for goals, they’re not changing too much, because the whole point is to create reasonable, small-improvement goals. But that also makes it easier to set them!

2022 Goals

New Submissions: 0 / 5
New Rough Drafts: 0 / 8
New Novel Draft: 0 / 1

Total Word Count: 0 / 120,000
Books To Read: 0 / 32

Submission Attempts: 0 / 40

Nothing too crazy there. The biggest push is aiming to submit fiction 40 times. With the three stories I currently have out, and the hopeful five new submissions in early 2022, I’m hoping that’ll be a pleasant push, and not a ripped-muscle stretch.

But that’s all for me through the end of the year! I’ll update if anything REALLY exciting happens, but have a lovely holiday season and I’ll see you all in 2022!

*And another one in which editor Paula Guran calls my story (“Candyland”): “Cute, but cutting”! Woohoo!

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