David Bowie died on January 10th.
Two days before, he released an amazing album that celebrated the process of his struggle with creativity and death. Listening to it on repeat on 1/11, I was moved to tears. Not just sadness, but absolute awe.
Black Star lit a spark somewhere deep inside me. 2016 was my year to break open the geode of my potential and check out the shiny.
A week later, I made the decision to hire an editor and put my money down. I began meeting with him at the end of January.
In the earlier portion of 2016 I also became the lead of my county’s writing group and began attending monthly write-ins. For the first half of the year I also attended a writing workshop led by one of our writing group’s members who was event coordinator at a local library.
I made the decision in May to make myself publicly accountable for the time I spend writing. Almost 200 videos later, I’ve totally changed my writing from a habit to a discipline.
I started, around the same time, using social media to build up a backlog of ‘existence’ in anticipation of one day having an audience who will care about such a thing. It’s quiet there at the moment, but as with all things, consistency is a key.
I finished a totally new draft of Flotsam in June. While I waited for my editor to look it over, I wrote an outline for book 2, and made notes for three more books.
I opened a new Amazon account and a new checking account for writer-related things. There’s also a file in my accounting drawer for receipts and invoices. Later I would hear Joanna Penn suggest that this is the moment I became serious about writing professionally. I’m misquoting there, no doubt, and I can’t remember whether I heard it on her podcast The Creative Penn, or when she was on another podcast such as Ask ALLi or the Self Publishing Podcast. The point stands, however, that my mindset regarding my writing has shifted dramatically.
In late Summer, I reached out to artists to find my book cover illustrator. Once I swore only Michael Whelan covers would do, but when I went to source images for a vision board of my finished novel, I realized that his covers weren’t right for my stories (and for the way books are previewed online these days in tiny thumbnail views first). Every time I clicked on a Google Image result (saying, “oh, here’s one that would work!”) it wasn’t his work, but that of Julie Dillon. Finally I accepted what my instincts were telling me, and reached out to her. We are getting started in just a few months!
As a second stage of taking the reins of my writing group, in September I became my NaNoWriMo region’s new ML.
I completed a second revision of Flotsam by the end of September. This is the draft which my editor later broke down on his ten-point review process and reported back as requiring “no further monkeying.” In about 8 months I’d gone from being stuck in an infinite loop to having a manuscript ready to send to a proofreader!
I made a final pass and minor revisions (typos, checked some details) by the end of October.
Meanwhile, I began designing a writing project for a Patreon campaign, exclusive short stories that will build on the universe I created for Flotsam. I wrote several of these, had them beta-read, and am in the process of editing the first vignette and creating new ones. I plan to start publishing them in the new year (patrons or not). The actual schedule will be based on when I have final artwork, which will be created by my husband. I’m super excited to see how his punk-sludge illustration style adds a twist to the story’s presentation.
I began work on a world map of Flotsam‘s planet, Peridot. In retrospect I think it’s a little too detailed to include in an eBook. That’s what made me stop working on it before I finished it. Well that, and some serious wrist pain. But it’s something I can finish up and offer as a poster to fans of the series, and has given me some insight into how to create a more appropriate map for the front pages of the book.
In late October, I wrote ten query drafts for Flotsam. My editor and I met up after NaNoWriMo was over to compile the best bits from those into a new final query. I don’t plan to shop my books around, so this was mostly for practice and to help me figure out how to talk about my story in a compelling way. I can also make some small adjustments and include this as my sales copy.
In November, I wrote a full first draft of Book 2 in 25 days. A full draft written in less time than it takes to get over a case of winter sniffles. And I did it while trying to organize NaNoWriMo events and write ML newsletters. This felt like an enormous accomplishment, and I began working on revising the draft in mid-December.
In early November, amid the excitement of NaNoWriMo, I learned that I won a prize of Reedsy credit that I used to hire a proofreader for Flotsam. I received the proof commented Word documents back on December 28.
To file under miscellaneous: Over the course of the year, I signed up as a member of ALLi. I opened accounts with BookFunnel, IngramSpark, and Draft2Digital. I signed up for (and later canceled) a bookplanner subscription. I bought a lifetime license for Vellum.
In December, I opened a GoFundMe campaign to legitimize the request for friends and family to help me get my books to publication in lieu of the usual Kohl’s, Amazon, and BodyArtForms gift cards. I received extremely generous gifts from many people that will go a long way toward paying for my first cover, which means the money I was going to put toward the cover from my own budget can go toward the publication costs of the second book!
I also read more than three times the number of books that I read in 2015 (I partially blame BookBub, but also the slew of book recommendations I found through the writing podcasts I listen to). Plus novel drafts. And a few short story drafts on critters.org.
And every time I come into this post’s draft to clean it up a bit, I remember something else I accomplished that feels worth mentioning.
2016 was a year full of incredible tragedy, but it’s hard for me to look back at it with the double-middle-finger that so many people are waving. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and how I’ve changed.
It’s with great anticipation that I look forward to 2017, when the world will finally have a chance to see what I’ve got.