As I’m fairly certain I won’t get any more writing done this year, time to do the 2017: Year in Review! This is going to be a bit more lengthy and personal than my usual updates, so bear with me.

This year kinda sucked. I didn’t publish anything new. I didn’t get the contract to finish out my series with Harper Voyager. I feel like I barely wrote anything at all, and what I did write took an agonizingly long time to squeeze out of my brain. On top of all that, I’ve had depression this year like never before, and I hit a personal low just this month, to the point I’m now taking anti-depressants and have scheduled an appointment with a therapist (It’s been a long time coming).

2017 was not a great year for writing, and I think a lot of people probably feel similarly about that. It’s hard to be creative when your country is quickly becoming a fascist dictatorship and your fictional villains seem tame compared to the real-life ones. I’m angry and tired and trying so desperately to cling to the hope that maybe the universe will move us in a positive direction soon. I feel so hopeless, so useless in the grand scheme of things, like nothing I do matters, nothing I write matters.

I don’t matter.

That’s what 2017 has done to me. I don’t matter. Worse, in the darkest pits of my depression, there was a tiny voice in the back of my head telling me what a waste I was, how useless I was, that I was a failure, how everyone I loved would be better off without me, how there was no point to anything I was doing.

It’s hard to write whenever you’re fighting against something like that. It’s hard to do anything.

Thank Asclepius for modern medicine.

I started anti-depressants a week ago today, and I’m… better-ish now. Not great. But a tiny, infinitesimal fraction better, and that’s enough for now.

So, it’s been a tough year. Amidst all this existential despair, I attempted to write as much as possible while ignoring the black cloud over my head and the tire-fire outside my window in the hopes that one or both would go away by the time I finished another book. Spoiler alert: it did not.

But I did write, and that’s something worth celebrating, even if I didn’t reach all my goals for the year.

Speaking of which…

Previously planned goals for 2017:

  • Write, edit, and publish another Chroniker City novella (untitled). I ALMOST DID THIS ONE!
  • Write the first draft of the next Chroniker City novel, The Chroniker LegacyNope.
  • Finish my fantasy novel, Written in the Sands and Stars, and begin querying. Nope.
  • Continue writing Dark Lord in Training. SUCCESS!

One-and-two-thirds out of four! Which is better than last year’s one out of five, so, yay that? Funny how quickly priorities change. I dropped WRITTEN IN THE SANDS AND STARS almost immediately. REBEL ENGINEER took so long, I just did not have time to squeeze another book into my schedule at that point. Same with THE CHRONIKER LEGACY. And ditto that as the reason I did not publish REBEL ENGINEER this year. Taking so much time on that literally derailed the rest of my plans for the year, and I had such a detailed schedule too. However, even though I did not meet all of my goals, I did work on other things, which brings me to…

2017 Accomplishments:

Most notably, I wrote the next book in the Chroniker City series, REBEL ENGINEER, which is now on the slate to be self-published sometime next year, assuming nothing major happens between now and then. The book took more than twice as much time to write as I anticipated, which was frustrating to say the least, but I did eventually reach the end of it.

Also on the Chroniker City front, I did a bit of brainstorming on the last book in the series, THE CHRONIKER LEGACY. It’s still coming together in bits and pieces, so the actual writing of it is still a long ways off.

I worked on DARK LORD IN TRAINING a bit more. The first draft is still not finished, which vexes me greatly, as I had really hoped to finish it this year, but I’m close now, so I’ll have to console myself with that.

I also continued brainstorming the epic fantasy I thought of in the latter half of 2016, which is still sort of random in my head at the moment as I try to pull different things out of my headspace and smash them together until I find something I like. I have ideas for certain characters, some scenes, and a scant bit of world building, but no real story yet. All I really know is how I want the story to feel and I haven’t quite found the right combination of elements to evoke that yet.

I started brainstorming a new project over the summer, that would eventually become my NaNoWriMo novel for the year, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST, which I made good progress on and I’m still excited about, even if I haven’t touched it since the end of November.

I also wrote a few flash fiction pieces that I’m relatively proud of.

2017 Word Count Totals (includes outlining, brainstorming, drafting, etc.):

By Project:

REBEL ENGINEER: 56,917
THE CHRONIKER LEGACY: 3,227
DARK LORD IN TRAINING: 17,191
THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST: 65,308
Blog Posts: 10,137
Epic Fantasy: 12,417
Other (short stories, book reviews, etc.): 4,725 

By Month:

(look at my sad little chart)

January: 20,822
February: 26,239
March: 14,068
April: 9,577
May: 7,384
June: 7,924
July: 3,003
August: 3,650
September: 6,561
October: 20,690
November: 44,463
December: 5,541

Total 2017:          169,922

It’s not horrible, really, but it’s less than half of what I wrote in 2016, to put it into perspective. It was that kind of year.

Goals for 2018:

i got a cat!

Here’s the part where I’m usually super hopeful and starry-eyed about the new year and what it might bring. But coming off of a year that knocked the ever-loving hell out of me, I’m a bit jaded on that front. In fact, thinking about the next year makes me sick to my stomach with anxiety. But even still, I do like making plans, so… goals for 2018:

  • Finish the first draft of DARK LORD IN TRAINING and edit
  • Finish the first draft of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST, edit, and query
  • Edit and publish REBEL ENGINEER

All said, that’s about 150,000 words of drafting and five months’ worth of editing.

I have roughly 30,000 words to go on DARK LORD IN TRAINING, and about 120,000 words left to write on THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST, give or take. I’m really actually hopeful about drafting THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST, because it is such a love letter to fairy tales and fantasy for me, and it’s nice to write something that is literally everything I love all wrapped up in a single story. And editing REBEL ENGINEER should not take too much effort or time. I feel like it’s a pretty solid story, so I should have no problem publishing it sometime next year. Finishing DARK LORD IN TRAINING will just take some discipline on my part. I have the rest of the story plotted out; I just need to write it.

As for more vague and hard-to-define goals, my first priority is going to be mental health. I don’t want to sink back into the black fog I’ve been in for most of 2017, so I’m going to make sure to take the time to take care of myself first, even if it means I don’t get as much writing done as I want to. This one is going to be hard because I often escape into my work to avoid my real world problems, but that didn’t exactly work this time, so I’m going to have to try to do better. I need to be more honest with myself, have more patience with myself, and stay off the internet as much as possible (which is hard when that’s your primary way to market yourself).

I’m going to continue to do conventions and appearances as often as I can, though I don’t have any big convention plans this year. I might go to GenCon if I can get in as a panelist, but other than that, it’s going to be local bookstores, libraries, schools, and the like. I really enjoy the local events, talking to people, being able to sell my books directly to readers, and hearing from previous customers how much they enjoyed my books. (Seriously, I had a pair of teenage girls come see me at one of my recent signings, and they were both so sweet. You should have seen how worn and loved that paperback was when she asked me to sign it, and then her friend bought both books, even after reading her friend’s copy twice. THE. BEST. THING.)

my first school visit!

Really, I guess this next year is going to be more of me keeping my nose down, minding my own work, and doing the best I can to survive in this hellscape reality. So, all in all, 2017 was a really shit year. Here’s to hoping 2018 leads to better things.

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