Happy Halloween! It’s a gorgeous fall day with eerie skittering leaves everywhere. There’s a giant bowl of candy waiting to be eaten and I am dressed as a mobster and the itinerants in the park asked me to dance. No, I’m… not really sure what that last one means either.
It is also the eve of a new year. A new Writing Year, at any rate.
When you’re little, the only year that counts as an ‘official’ year is the calendar year. The one that start January 1st and ends December 31st. But as you get older, you realize that there are a lot places the year could start. The Chinese New Year isn’t in the same place. Nor is the Jewish New Year and that one doesn’t even always start in the same place every year, at least if you’re tracking it by the Julian calendar.
In fact, as a kid, you’re already dancing to another schedule. The School Year, which starts over in September and this is WAY more important to you than January 1st will ever be. And then you get to be an adult and you discover FISCAL years, which can literally start and stop in any place, so long as its the same place every year. The United States government starts its fiscal year in October of all places.
Eventually, you figure out that the new year is pretty arbitrary as a date. You probably will get the first off of work, which is nice, but the holiday itself only ever means as much as you want it to. Your own life will be tracked by dates that mean more to you personally. Religious holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. You set your own calendar, even if you add in drinking heavily every December 31st to the agenda.
For years, I’ve joked that the writing year started with Nano. This year, I decided that, you know what? I’m making this official. My Writing Year starts on November 1st. Which means its time to discuss how the last year went and plans for the new year.
Aaaaand, well, honestly, last year wasn’t a great year for writing for me. Thing happened, such as moving. And a large quantity of being less useful than I really wanted to be. Still, accomplished a few things. Got one novel through a third draft phase, which is a landmark for me. That, unfortunately, was the most I got accomplished for novels. My Nano last year, while very informative, will probably need to be completely restarted from scratch now that I have hashed out my direction for that story a little better. I started a number of novels and have ideas for a number more. But other than one third draft, progress was minimal this last year.
Also, did not learn how to write short stories. May have figured out novellas, though! I wrote another one of those, finished that up just this last month. So, this year hasn’t been a waste, things got written, things got learned. But just not as productive as I want.
Which leads me to my plans for this next year. The goal is to get four major projects done. One per quarter, though with the year starting in November, I’ve completely screwed myself on tracking things by quarter.
What counts as a major project? A draft (first, second, fifteenth, doesn’t matter) of something novella length or up. Because I have a few novellas I’d love to clean up, even if those are sort of dead ends for publishing at this point in my career (as I’m not interested in self publishing right now). And I want to build in some amount of forgiveness for myself, because trying for this is a goal insanely higher than any I’ve set for myself.
Which projects am I thinking?
Well, to start with, there’s the novel I’m writing for Nano this year. The goal is to actually try and finish the thing in a month, though I did cheat and am going into it with about 20k pre-written. With the 50k of Nano, that puts me up to 70k, which is still short for a novel of adult fiction. But Freddy Normal Is Dead was finished at 60k in its first draft and is now around 90k, so the length of first drafts can and does change radically when they move to new territory.
Though, I’ll be honest. The novel I’m working on for Nano this year? It embarrasses me so. On some levels, it’s a perfectly respectable little high fantasy. On other levels, it’s a horrible yaoi monstrosity and help help why am I writing this?
*Cough* So, anyway, after Nano, I really want to get The Cat That Wouldn’t Die through a second draft. It’s kind of one of my favorites and I still have high hopes for it, if I can ever get it edited to something decent. Freddy Normal Is Dead will also need another draft, though I’m hoping that will be a faster redraft as it’s more focused on areas I know need work or will be pointed out to me.
Put like that, there’s three of the four major projects right there. Looks less scary when put like that, but I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune when I’m actually trying to edit and write shit.
And for the fourth project? We’ll find out. Exploration is always the best part of writing.