December 18, 2015

Wrapping Up and Winding Down

The end of 2015 approaches, and I'm ready to switch my brain to vacation mode. Before I sink into a revel of books, knitting, and sugar, here's an update and overview of my writing year.

At the end of October, I mentioned I was a month into a new novel that I was writing with very little plan in mind. Yesterday I completed that first draft. I brought the characters and situation to a reasonable point of closure a bit past the 50,000-word mark that defines a novel in NaNoWriMo. The manuscript concludes with a self-indulgent epilogue that gives every character a happy ending, which was my reward for pushing through to the end.

Nobody gets to read this story. It's not at all good. Though I didn't restrict myself to writing in a single month, I basically NaNoWriMoed this first draft, and in true NaNo fashion, there are some tiny brilliant bits that emerged as surprises in the course of writing, and the rest is discardable. The premise turned out to be only marginally fruitful, and everything interesting happened in the subplots. I do like how many of the characters evolved, and some elements of the story have potential, so maybe certain parts could be salvaged and turned into something else. But that's a concern for another year.

At least I can report that I wrote a novel this year. I learned some things in the process and reminded myself what first drafts are like (bad). I derived some satisfaction from following through on a large project. It kept me from running wild on the streets or the internet for a couple of hours each day.

The more significant and satisfying writing endeavor of 2015 was yet another revision of THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE, which occupied me for the first half of the year. After confronting the fact that my manuscript was just too long, I shortened it by over 20%. By now I can't even remember how I possibly achieved this feat, so I'll have to review my series of posts about The Incredible Shrinking Manuscript.

All throughout the year, I've continued fiddling with the outline I keep talking about that I hope will eventually become another novel. This has been mostly a background project, and while I'm making gradual progress with it, I don't have any exciting milestones to announce.

I had a lot of fun this year composing blog entries that explore my childhood writing. Reading and analyzing the bizarre things I wrote as a kid has provided me with great amusement each month, and I'm glad my readers find these posts entertaining as well. I have more gems to share in 2016.

My final ongoing writing project is producing reviews of every book I read. The monthly recap format has been working out well for me, and I'll probably continue with that next year. Stay tuned for a January post with my favorite books of 2015, reading stats, and so on.

I'll wrap this up with two non-writing notes. First, for those who didn't see it elsewhere, check out the sweater I finally finished knitting and assembling this fall, a year and a half after starting it. And lastly, let's not forget that in 2015, we learned that I am a treasure chest once owned by the Visigoths.

May your 2015 wind down with some moments you can treasure. Here's to the end of another year!

Good Stuff Out There:

→ At Electric Literature, Lincoln Michel considers genres and the myths of popularity, with statistical analysis and an overview of ongoing debates: "There is an odd cognitive dissonance that happens in these conversations, where we are simultaneously supposed to believe that literary fiction is 'mainstream fiction' and genre fiction is 'ghettoized,' and also that literary fiction is a niche nobody reads while genre authors laugh all the way to the bank."

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