2016 in reterospect

I really like New Years. No other time encourages us to look back over the last year and think about how we want to improve in the next. I’m not much one for resolutions, but I think there’s a lot to be learned from examining our failures and successes. Since KRH was born in October, most of this year was completed before he came along, but I spent most of the pregnancy knowing (and honestly struggling) with his arrival.

You see, I love my son and I want to be a great Dad to him, but after my wife and I spent some time trying to get pregnant and we realized that this pregnancy was going to continue, I had to grapple with the conflicting nature of my goals. Stated simply enough, having KRH would distract me from my goal of writing full time. It’s a tough gig to make a living as a writer, and for all that I have a couple of books complete (and I think they’re good books) I know I need to get better and more consistent to be able to make a go of it. But as I noted before, we wanted KRH and I always knew he would take time from my writing. So it took me some mental time to wrestle with his arrival and how it would impact my writing time. The result, in many ways, is this blog. I want to chart the ups and downs and back and forths as I try to be a great Dad and pursue my writing ambitions.

So with that said, what did I get done in 2016? Well, late in 2015 I came to the realization that a novel, A Foreseen Happenstance, that I’d been working on for some time (and thought I was finished with) wasn’t done at all. I had a bolt from the blue discovery that the main character was the wrong gender. As a man, the character’s motivation was never strong enough; he had too many things going for him. As a woman, she had to face sexism, prejudice and a rigid hierarchy. More changed in that rewrite, but I managed to rewrite, trim out about 10,000 words and edit in the first 3 months of 2016. Those were my most productive months of the year and the fastest I’ve ever completed such an expansive rewrite.

Shortly after that, I recevied a rewrite request for another novel I was querying, Legacy of the Destroyer. The agent in question thought the premise sounded decent and the writing was good, but that the novel was about 20k too long. A complete rewrite to get all those words out took me from June to October and was pretty significant. For trimming the book by nearly a sixth, I was happy with both the process and the result.

In November, as I always do, I took part in NaNoWriMo. I completed a draft for Cloudbreakers, a novel idea I’ve had kicking around in various forms for almost five years. Getting a draft typed was a big deal. The end length was 80k. I also spent some time working on several other drafts, including my novel Death on the Snowfield, which isn’t yet done.

So, in 2016, I spent roughly 470 hours with fingers to keyboard on writing. That was better than the year before, but not as good as in 2014, when I spent 530 hours. Though of as an average, I’m fairly happy with it because it works out to over an hour a day, but at the same time, I feel like I could have done more and should do more in the coming year. Which is funny, because this year and the last year were full of challenges, and 2017 is going to be filled with the challenge of full-time parenting plus my full-time job. What I think I’m going to need to do is set my goal high, but at the same time keep my expectations even. Still, I feel like if I want a chance at ever achieving my goals, I need to pour more and more time into writing. I have to keep this somewhere between being a driving force, and ensuring that it doesn’t interfere with parenting KRH. Time spent not writing isn’t necessarily wasted, even if that’s what my brain wants me to think. Still, I need to push myself harder than ever, and keep learning to be better and more efficient and consistent.

Anyway, here’s to a better 2017!

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