2020 was an unpleasant year for pretty much everyone. I have no particular cause to be unhappy; no one I know got Covid. However I found the year to be one of the most difficult in my life, due to the major upset in my habits caused by Covid shutting everything down.
I’m not going to go into details because no one likes a pity party, so I’ll just come out and state the obvious: last year I published a lot few book reviews than I have in prior years. Part of this slow-down in reviews was deliberate: a few years ago I was reading so many books that none of them particularly sunk in, and my own writing output suffered as a result of spending too much time writing reviews (because I wrote 200+ blog posts a year, writing fiction got cut). Between the disease and the election, I was just not in the mood to read or write.
Likewise, last year I stagnated in my fiction-writing output. Now to be clear I wrote a lot: the story I am working on progressed from Draft 2 to Draft 10, which included three entire re-writes. Three soul-sucking, mind-numbing, hope-crushing re-writes. Net total I probably wrote around 250,000 words (the equivalent of a little over half of one of Brandon Sanderson’s mega-novels, if you want some perspective.) (For more perspective, my book is only around 120,000 words long.) Let me tell you, there are only so many times a person can throw out a book and restart entirely in a year before they get a little frustrated. I did my best to retain as much as possible from draft-to-draft, but between the feedback I’ve gotten from readers and my own insight, I felt that those re-writes were necessary.
But I’m not done yet. I am now halfway through my Draft 10 re-write, and I pray to god it’s the final one because I’m going crazy here. But even after I finish, (assuming draft 10 is any good), I still need to do multiple cleaning-up drafts before it’s anything approaching presentable. There is still A LOT of work to do. The soul-sucking, mind-numbing, hope crushing work continues.
But there were some successes in 2020. One change I’ve started making is moving away from the book-review model and towards the literary-review model for story critiques. There are plenty of other blogs/websites out there where you can get reviews for a story; there aren’t anywhere near so many places out there where you can get long-form analysis of the literary merits of a book. I’ve had some successes writing long-form analysis, and I have personally found long-form analysis more helpful in my own writing because it has taught me more lessons in how to write then short-form analysis. Why? Because if I can put to print what I like and don’t like about a story, I can gain those lessons for my own writing.
Looking forward to 2021, I’m going to cool off for a bit reviewing-wise on here. I’m still not in much of a mood for reading or writing. I’m going to aim for reading/reviewing 12 fiction books this year. They will be long-form critiques. I will probably also post short-form reviews as well, one for each book. I also plan to read 12 nonfiction books as well, but those I will not be writing long-form reviews for.
And finally, one last change. I’ve started going stir-crazy due to writing ten fucking drafts of the same damn thing. Draft 10 will not be the final draft of my present story, so I need an outlet for my creativity or else I’ll go mad. As a result I’ve decided to put myself out here a bit and actually start posting some free fiction on this blog. My present plan is to write an chain of connected short stories, which when linked together form a greater narrative. I might spice it up by throwing in some random side-stories in there.
Not only that, but I’ve decided to wing it and actually show the innerworkings of my outlining process behind my storytelling. Why will I show you how the sausage is made? Because part of this blog’s purpose is to provide a source of insight for how an author authors things. How better to show how I write than to put myself out here and just show it? To my knowledge, this is not the first time something like this has been done. Brandon Sanderson did something similar years ago when he wrote Warbreaker.
Why am I doing these short stories? Because I need a creative outlet. I NEED it. In prior years I’d write two to three (unpublished) novels a year, because I liked the creative outlet. This last year I haven’t had that at all, and I’ve suffered as a result.
Now all cards on the table, my short stories will probably be bad. It’s a literary format I’ve barely practiced in the past. I reserve the right to go back and revise/fix any story I’ve posted.
Now how will I balance all of this?
- I will have 1 fiction review a month, plus 1 fiction literary analysis a month.
- I will have 1 nonfiction review a month.
- I will post an outline for each short story I write before I write it.
- I will have at least 1 complete short story a month. I’m aiming for between 2000-10000 word short stories.
Net total, that’s 1 post a week, give or take. The exact date I post something might wobble about a bit. Anyway, I’ve got work to do. Stay Sunny.