This is the second time I've posted a year in review summary. While every other article I write is for my readers, this one's for me. It's the point where I can reflect on my achievements and successes, and refocus for the coming year.
Failure is hard
This time last year, I was justifiable proud of my achievements. I started 2019 with a great deal of optimism, challenging myself to publishing no less than four books.
I published a total of one...sigh...
A big contributor was the pressures of my home life. I have three young kids with special needs, and quite honestly they've really exhausted me this year. Coupled to that, and I had a painful and invasive surgical procedure in August that really knocked me for six. Since I've sustained lasting nerve damage, it's also potentially killed off my career as podcaster and narrator before it properly began.
The main reason however, is being bogged down with The Prince's Bastard, Book 2 of The Lords of Skeinhold. As I began writing, I realised the story was more complex than I originally planned. The word count blew out, and most damaging, I suspected that I had set the story too far after The Weaver's Boy.
This realisation caused something of a crisis, one that I've not entirely resolved. To correct the problem, I came close to retconning and rewriting The Weaver's Boy. In fact I wrote 10 thousands in November to that end... outline a complete new story arc set in the Abbey of Hafran.
In a similar diversion, I've written another story about Owain, this one set before The Weaver's Boy. As I write this post, I've just ticked over 15,000 words and I'm on track to finish the first draft on Christmas Eve. As with the aborted rewrite of The Weaver's Boy, I thought about including this new story in the series as book 0.5. It fills in the gap between Cadoc's Contract and The Weaver's Boy, and tells the story of how Owain came to serve as Trysten's disciple.
There's more I've written too as part of The Prince's Bastard that I will likely cut. Many darlings will be killed, but my instincts tell me it's the right thing to do.
I've decided I need to stick to my original idea. The Lords of Skeinhold was meant to serve as the prelude to Weaver of Dreams, as a loosely coupled collection of novellas introducing my world, and the people who later shape Lillian's narrative.
Oh course, it's not easy letting go, and I don't think I will completely. Nothing gets chucked out, and I have plans for these new stories that I'll share in coming months.
A year of side projects and fiddles
With large blocks of time out of my reach this year, I turned to side projects and fiddles to scratch the creative itch in more manageable chunks. I started drawing more, and bought an iPad Mini 5 and Apple Pencil to draw maps. This is something I hope to continue, not just maps and not just for my books.
I launched an online codex for my fantasy setting, and I've been experimenting with interactive maps. Currently, they are two separately developed efforts, and I'm toying with the idea of bringing them together.
I also produced my first podcast, with a modest seven episodes. The season was cut short following my surgery, but in many respects it served my initial goal of learning to record, edit and publish audio, and seeing what people thought of my voice. As I slowly recover from surgery, I will return to podcasting and narration, though I might need a little speech therapy to help overcome the nerve damage to my mouth.
2019 by the numbers
Even as I admit failure, I can't accept defeat.
Since January, I've written and published 45 blog articles with a sum of 37,422 words, including two very popular Scrivener tutorials. That under 2018, but my traffic has grown considerably with over 60,000 unique visits this year. This December I ticked over the milestone of 200 articles, a number which at last feels like I can proudly call myself a blogger.
Cadoc's Contract, published at the start of the year, weighed in at 30,000 words. Despite not publishing however, I've worked hard on the series. The Prince's Bastard, finally drafted, now stands at 65,000 words. While A Man at Arms is on hold, I've added to it here and there, as well as outlining the story in its entirety, ready for when I finish TBP.
My current pet project, Wraith is proving to be really fun, letting me cross deep into horror territory. As noted already, I've just ticked over 15,000 words and hope to reach 20k by tomorrow night -- that will do for the first draft.
That makes for a total of about 105,000 words for the year — I’m quite pleased with that, given all that's gone on this year.
Looking forward to 2020
If 2018 was a success, and buoyed my with optimism, 2019 was the reality check I needed that told me I can't do everything -- or at least not in all at once. Books don't get easier to write, even though my craft has improved -- I continue to demand more of myself, weaving richer stories. I'm still a second-rate blogger, and a third-rate novelist, but that's an improvement on last year!
As I did back this year, at some point in January, I'll follow this post up with the plans for next year. Will they be more tempered? Maybe.
Until then, it's time I wound down, rest, relax and spend some time with the kids.
Have a safe and happy break, and I'll see you in the roaring '20s!
Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash