2013: Not a good year.
The new year is a hopeful time for me even though the calender’s change is to a great degree arbitrary. The difference between December 31 and January 1 in terms of the time of sunrise and sunset is small but in my mind I can create a transitional zone that helps me make sense of moving forward.
I always have too many goals at the beginning of the year but I’ve learned that it is okay to embrace the idea that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, that I pile too much on my plate and maybe leave some things unfinished.
In the new year I have a lot of work to do.
I’m slated to be one of the Guests of Honor at Fantasycon 2014 (York, England, Sept 5- 7). AND I plan to attend Loscon 3 (Worldcon 2014) in London on August 14 – 17. This is all intensely exciting!
So far this year I have
1) turned in the revised manuscript of my forthcoming (2015) YA fantasy, MASK. This is my Little Women epic fantasy in a setting inspired by (but not specifically derived from) Greco-Roman Egypt.
We four sisters are sitting in the courtyard at dusk in what passes for peace in our house. Well-brought-up girls do not fidget or fume or ever betray the least impatience or boredom. But it is so hard to sit still when all I can think about is how I am going to sneak out of the house tomorrow to do the thing my father would never ever give me permission to do.
2) battled intense self doubt regarding the epic fantasy manuscript I am working on, mostly brought on by a crisis of confidence about writing epic fantasy at all. It’s complicated. The most important thing is to persevere past the negative internal voices, and not hate on yourself that you have those voices (and sometimes lose ground to them). That’s human. I have to remind myself that it is okay to believe in yourself. It’s not rude, or cocky, or unseemly. Confidence belongs to everyone.
I have 175,000 words written and a lot of revision to do plus some chapters to write and insert, but in the end I decided that to make sure the layers worked and to understand the story’s architecture I needed a plot board outline, which I finally finished today. At the same time I color coded the five points of view (one per chapter). You can see both the plot board and the post-it tagged manuscript below:
I am in the process of finishing and revising this novel now.
Beyond that I have
1) a Spiritwalker novelette very close to being finished that I hope to post for Valentine’s Day
2) a few more Spiritwalker universe short stories that I would really like to finish. My ultimate goal is a short story collection set within the universe.
3) Two novels on deck. No timetables I can share yet.
4) a short story collection coming 2015; I have more work to do on that.
5) How much I will post over the next few months remains up in the air but I hope to post more regularly and especially I hope to answer some of the many questions I have backlogged. My apologies for not getting to them sooner. I also want to highlight work I’m reading/viewing by others.
As for non-writing related things:
Get more in shape (I have an entire regimen planned and in progress for this).
The other usual things (eat better, spend more relaxed time with people, read more, you know all that).
But if I had to say ONE THING I hope to accomplish this year, I would say: Have a successful trip to Europe (as per above) By my way of thinking success in this context means: hang out with friends, make new friends, spend time with people I’ve been longing to visit, talk talk talk, avoid exceptional hassles, stay healthy, and pick a couple of places I’ve not yet seen that I really want to visit. Also: people!
I don’t know if a new year means the same to everyone — but for me it is a chance to let go of some of the burdens I carried the previous year, to set goals I won’t fully achieve but keep striving for regardless, and to aim for one or two carefully chosen accomplishments or events, however large or small. I’d be interested in hearing how you approach the new year.
I am so excited for those short stories set in the Spiritwalker universe you have no idea!
For me the new year is a chance to restart. I didn’t write as much last year and hope to do more this year. I’ll also eat better, spoil myself more (I’ve decided every three months) and travel across West Africa. I’m looking at Mali, Ghana, Senegal and the Gambia. I also need a new day job this year. I think 2014 will be way better than 2013 for me.
Have a good trip – And see all the places you’d like to see.
Wow, lots of plans! The Europe trip sounds lovely.
Thank you for sharing the photo of your plot board. I’m working on something that’s rapidly getting complicated and it’s helpful to see how others manage complex plots/multiple POVs.
I approach the new year as a chance to try again: to take a different approach with things that weren’t working; to let things go, if necessary; and to re-prioritize where I can. Of course, these noble intentions fall away by March most years. But I keep trying!
I also try to look back at goals from previous years. I often surprise myself – I’ll sometimes set a goal or make a resolution several years in a row unsuccessfully, and then almost unthinkingly I’ll get it done. That happened this year, and it felt great, looking back, to see I could finally cross it off my mental list.
Interestingly I have never had the impulse to write so many short stories in one of my worlds before now. Partly I think that is a factor of how self publishing is changing the reach and importance and visibility of short stories and partly it is the SW universe and those characters.
So how do you spoil yourself?
Also: What a fabulous trip. I’ve been to Mali and it was the most wonderful place.
Good luck to us all for 2014!
Thanks. I can’t see everything so I try to see a few places that I know will make me happy.
I often do a lot of this structural work in my head but for some reason I had to write this out to get it straight this time.
Letting go seems to be a huge thing for me at the year change. Maybe it is a factor of giving ourselves permission — something I could do at any time of the year and yet it seems easiest to do at new year.
That’s an excellent point about achieving goals over a longer span and not realizing it until you look back later. I have lists of things I need to accomplish — sometimes divided into long, medium, short term — and periodically I’ll find an old one and realize I did better than I thought I did. Why are we so hard on ourselves?
A great insight into your life. Robin Hobb has done something vaguely similar and you are both tantalising! Always good to have something to look forward to.
On a different note I recently saw a clip from a BBC show where a crow demonstrates amazing intelligence. I was reminded of your Trolls, and all I could think was, ‘thank god they don’t have opposable thumbs!’.