Today is the winter solstice! Earlier, me and my family went scrounging for a Yule log in the woods to burn tonight and celebrate the return of the sun and longer days ahead—something new we’re going to add into our winter festivities going forward—and later we’ll talk about our favorite things that have happened this year and our hopes for next year. It’s the perfect time to look back and reflect on the year and everything we’ve done.

So, 2018 was a bit of a doozy. I started the year in the worst depression of my life, and I’ve ended the year depression-free for the first time in fifteen years thanks to regular therapy and antidepressants. I’m proud of that most of all, whatever writing I did or didn’t get done this year. I worked on a few different projects, but then I had a car accident in May which left me unable to work for a few months, and by then I lost all momentum on anything I had been working on in the first half of the year. I used NaNoWriMo to start the next draft of REBEL ENGINEER, and I’ve spent the month of December taking it pretty easy. It’s a chaotic month to be trying to get writing done.

If anything, the theme of 2018 seems to have been more about self-improvement and self-care than writing, and I’m okay with that. I’ve been in a bad state for a few years now, working myself to misery and pushing burnout like nobody’s business, so even though I didn’t get much done this year, I feel like I’m in a better place to move forward into 2019.

I did write, which is worth something, even if I didn’t finish anything that I wanted to.

Previously Planned Goals for 2018:

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

I did work on DARK LORD IN TRAINING a little bit, and even posted a few chapters on Wattpad. I tried continuing THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST but about 70,000 words in, I realized that I didn’t like where the story was going and I needed to go back, rework some things, and start over. Then I had my wreck. I did manage to edit about half of REBEL ENGINEER, so I guess that’s a partial success there.

2018 Accomplishments:

I wrote some things. Even though I didn’t finish any of those things, I kept writing. Despite my depression, despite my car accident, despite losing my publishing contract, despite my own self-doubts… I wrote.

And that is worth celebrating to me, because I’m not going to lie, there were times this year that I wanted to give up and quit. Open an Etsy shop or something and never look back. I had a bit of an existential crisis over it, but I came out of it okay. Again, my biggest accomplishment this year was the improvement of my mental health. It’s not easily quantifiable, but it’s the most important thing I did.

Another big thing I did do this year was launch a Patreon. I’m super happy about that because it was a nerve-wracking decision that ultimately turned out good! I have gained the support of eight patrons since launching at the end of September, and I’ve enjoyed the content I’ve created as a result. It’s validating to know that there are readers out there who want to support my work beyond just buying my books. It gave me a much needed ego boost to remind me of my worth and get me back into writing.

Which brings me to…

2018 Word Count Totals:

(Includes outlines, brainstorming notes, drafting, etc.)

By project:

REBEL ENGINEER: 41,715
DARK LORD IN TRAINING: 2,701
THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST: 39,478
Blog Posts: 12,819
Patreon: 5,369
Other: 12,875

By month:

January: 23,830
February: 6,019
March: 9,522
April: 6,113
May: 4,600
June: 3,219
July: 2,880
August: 5,432
September: 3,916
October: 8,351
November: 35,918
December: 5,157

Total 2018: 114,957

For comparison, total in 2017: 169,922

I wrote less than I would have liked, but I’m okay with that. Here’s hoping that 2019 shapes up to be more productive.

Goals for 2019:

I have two primary goals for 2019:

  • Finish editing REBEL ENGINEER and send to betas again
  • Finish the first draft of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST, edit, and query

Those are the two things I absolutely must get done this coming year. I want to get REBEL ENGINEER to a place where I can publish it, and I want to get THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST in the hands of agents by the end of the year. Ideally, I want to sign an agent before the end of 2019, but we’ll see how that goes. This is me being hopeful.

I have about 30-40,000 words left on REBEL ENGINEER, and then THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST will probably be a 150-200,000 word novel by the time I’m done with it. I have nearly 70,000 words of material now, but I expect only half of it is useable moving forward. It will probably take the better part of the year to write, at least six months, considering the length. If I’m lucky and write well, editing should be a matter of 2-3 months, and then another month for beta feedback before deciding to query or not. Which means I need to finish REBEL ENGINEER by the end of January if possible. No later than February, at worst. That gives me ten months for THE MERMAID AND THE BEAST, which seems doable.

It’s a daunting task, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do it.

Secondary goals:

  • Finish the first draft of DARK LORD IN TRAINING (this has been on my to-do for a few years now)
  • Grow my Patreon to $100/month (at least)
  • Launch a local book-oriented convention (this is a biggie!)

These are the things I want to get done, but it’s okay if I don’t. Poor DARK LORD IN TRAINING has been left unfinished forever, and it deserves some time and attention if I can spare it among the other things I need to get done. It’s a nice change of pace for when I’m stuck on other stuff. So usually, if I’m spent on one project but still feel like writing, I’ll write a little bit on DARK LORD IN TRAINING, just to make a little more progress.

For the Patreon, I’m hoping that some new reward tiers in the new year will incentivize more people to add their support to my work, and hopefully, once I start writing flash fiction at $100/month, that will attract even more patrons to support me. More physical rewards are in order, and now that I have a die-cutting machine, I’ll be able to make some unique swag to give to patrons and hand out to readers at events. I’m excited about that.

I do want to try to do more events this coming year. I did very few in 2018. Between my wreck recovery and trying to set myself right mentally, it was too difficult for me to do much in the way of events. But this year should be a different story.

And speaking of events… A friend and I are looking at trying to start a convention in Northwest Arkansas that focuses on books of all genres, and is a combined event for readers and writers to enjoy. We’re still working on getting funding, but I’m excited to see where it leads. I hate having to travel for book conventions, so why not start one? Makes perfect sense.

So, anyway.

2018 was a bit of a mess. I went through some really difficult shit and came out on top, despite everything. I learned a lot about myself and even more about writing. I read (almost) 50 books (on track to finish the 50th before the end of the year)—a lot of graphic novels this year, some books on the craft of writing, and a variety of fantasy novels, most of which were fairytale retellings and the first nine books in The Wheel of Time series.

I feel… better at the end of this year. I feel like I’ve evolved, or leveled up a bit from where I was at the beginning of the year. I turn 30 at the end of January, and maybe that has something to do with it, but I feel a bit wiser, my mind a bit broader, more equipped to handle things that come my way, good or bad. I’ve found a sort of peace with myself, who I am and where I am in life. That was shaky ground six months ago, but I feel like I’ve overcome a lot of those doubts and insecurities that I felt over the summer. I’m less anxious about the future and more… ready. Ready to pull my boots on and face it head on.

The world is still a dumpster fire waiting to implode, but I’m here. I’m alive. I’m okay.

I can’t be any more than that.

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