December 17, 2021

Here Again

Here we are near the end of another year, the time to look back and cringe over whatever forecasts and hubris may have been expressed a year ago. Last December I had enough sense to keep a damper on my expectations, though I did still declare my belief in 2021 "growing gradually better." Progress has been a lot more forward and back, up and down than most of us might have imagined. I am grateful for the ways science made 2021 less frightening than 2020, and sorrowful that disease and human factors produced another year of tragedy nonetheless. I will predict nothing about what's ahead for the world. though my hopes are for the best, or at least the not-worst.

I remained extremely fortunate this year, staying healthy and safe, with many opportunities for joy even in the difficult times. Writing came easier than last year, and I was focused on fiction projects during more months than not. In 2021, I revised a short story to completion and began submitting it, and I built a solid foundation for a novel idea I intend to keep working on.

The short story was one I wrote in three days during August 2020 and did two more drafts of (well, maybe four, depending on how you count) before the end of the year. I spent much of the first half of this year on a slow, careful revision to address weaknesses pointed out by early readers and get the story into the shape I wanted. Then there was one more fast, intense, deadline-driven edit to make it as good as I possibly could, and I sent it out into the world. I received a polite rejection from the first publication I tried, and more from the next ones, because this is a competitive market, and there are so many good stories out there. I'll keep trying with this story, as well as mulling over some other ideas that might become short stories.

Getting started on developing a new novel idea was my biggest creative accomplishment of the year, even though I'm still a long way from having a solid draft. I'd been feeling a lot of angst about a lack of new ideas, so it was a relief to hit on a concept that has promise. I spent October on worldbuilding and preparation for writing, and November doing NaNoWriMo for the first time in many years. I successfully wrote 50,000 words that will form the basis for the large amount of planning, outlining, and drafting I have ahead. Go, me!

Also in 2021, I was active early in the year with FOGcon's virtual events committee. It was fun and rewarding to help create online gatherings for our usual con attendees, as well as welcoming far-flung speculative fiction fans who would never have made it to our small local con in person. Since the summer, I've been less involved in organizing, but others have continued to put on a series of great events that will extend into next year.

This was another year where simply getting through was achievement enough, and I am pleased and fortunate that I have so much else to report. As this year of uncertainty winds down with more uncertainty, I hope you have something to celebrate. I'm wishing everyone the best.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ For The Millions, Mark Cecil talks to other authors about the emotional payoffs of stories: "If you're going to end high, you have to start low. If you're going to end low, you have to start high. The beginning is reverse engineered from the end. Most character arcs can be boiled down to this: 'It’s a story about a character who begins at X and must overcome Y to get to Z.' But in the writing process, Z comes first. Without Z, you don't know what Y or X must be. Without Z, you don't have a story."

No comments:

Post a Comment