Or, now-ish, anyway.
I’m now officially done working the floor at the hospital. Nothing left to do here but checkout.
And sell our car, turn off our Japanese cell phones, pack out everything we own and ship it overseas, figure out where we’re going to live in the States, get David into school there without missing too many days, buy a house, start my new job, get into the Navy Reserves, and a hundred other things.
No wonder I’ve had an eye tick for last couple weeks.
No, really. I have. I’ve also averaged 4 hours of sleep the last three days. That doesn’t help either.
It’s when you have massive life upheaval like this that you realize, unless you actually make a living as a writer, that you’re writing really isn’t that big of a priority. It still is, in my mind and heart, it’s still the thing I think most about, but it sure as hell isn’t paying any bills right now, getting us across the Pacific Ocean, or feeding my family, so… Not a big deal.
And when I start my Master’s Degree this spring or summer, it will unfortunately take a further back seat. Which sucks. I love my writing. And I have more stories in my mind right now than I will probably get done in my lifetime. At the rate I’m going, anyway.
Although once I’m out of the Navy and settled into my next life, I expect to have more writing time. Eventually. And in seven more years, when I can retire from the Reserves, I hope to have even more time. Maybe by then I’ll actually have enough books out there that they’ll be paying some of the bills.
Dare to dream.
Most writers, in case you didn’t know, do not sustain their lives on writing alone. Even many of those published by the Big Five companies. Most writers are not millionaires. And the forecast is that fewer and fewer will be. The hay day of the millionaire writer is over. I never asked for a million dollars anyway. A tenth of that per year, a twentieth, would suit me just fine. At that point I would consider myself to be a “professional writer.”
And I don’t know that I would ever stop working, anyway. I’m leaving the Navy as a nurse and moving on to teaching nursing school, something I greatly enjoy doing. Even if I were making a sustainable wage as a writer, I’d probably still teach at least part-time. It’s a worthwhile cause and I’m not sure I would feel satisfied with a life where I spend every day just holed away typing on a keyboard in the basement. I’ve always felt a need to do more for more people. I don’t know that just entertaining folks with wild stories would be enough.
And so begins 2018. Bye-bye 2017. We barely knew you. And we won’t really miss you.
Starting last new year (has it been a year already?!), I had stopped tracking my daily writing word counts. That seemed to be more accounting than was worthwhile to me, and sometimes only reminded me that I was not writing as much as I wanted to be. Instead, I tracked only words published, which I continue to think is way more valuable. A lot of people patter around on their keyboards writing words that no one ever sees. Published words are out there in the world.
So I simplified my tracking system from a day by day account to a monthly task account, further divided into quarters. This was codenamed “Stormcloud.” (I love to make up codenames. All my pricing matrices have codenames, my file for book blurbs is called “Witchdoctor,” etc.) So whatever task I completed or book I worked on would have a colorful entry in my spreadsheet simply noting what it was. For example, in January of 2017, I have some orange blocks that say, “SIDs finished” (SIDs is shorthand for Secret Identities) and “Kronos pubbed” (The Scythe of Kornos). If I did some marketing, sent out a newsletter, or some other writing-related task, I noted that there too. For example, in October I took a vocational vacation to the Oregon Coast and spent a week in a writer’s workshop learning a crap-ton about the business end of writing and publishing. That’s definitely in the Stormcloud matrix.
In 2018, I’m thinking of going even simpler. No more big, colorful monthly graph where I continue to track my every move just to justify to myself that yes, I did do something toward my writing career this month. The new system is codenamed “Scarecrow” and it’s just a schedule. Just a plan of what I want to get done in 2018. And it doesn’t take up much space.
Two major books: Green-Eyed Monster, which is a collection of 7 novellas and stories (some of which will also appear as solo stories once a month over several months), and Deus Ex Machina, which is the quirky superhero novel following Hungry Gods. And that’s it. And pretty much all of those things are already written or very nearly written.
Much like in the world of Big Publishing. The stuff that comes out this year will have been written last year or, more often, years before. In the case of most of these things I’m bringing out in 2018, most of these words are two, three, or more years old and are just now, finally, seeing the light of day. Or were published in magazines previously, so I had to wait for the rights to come back to me. The shorter stuff was also waiting for me to have more stuff to package them up with, in the case of the Green-Eyed collection.
So how did everything total up? Was 2017 a good year?
Sure it was! Even though I feel, as every writer does, that I didn’t write nearly enough words and didn’t get nearly enough out for readers to grab onto, it was a good year.
In 2017, I published 81,500 new words. New, as in they’d never been published before 2017. Pretty darn nice for one busy-as-hell guy doing all this on his own. (With some hired help from editors, artists, and the wife.)
But when you add in repeated words—such as stories that were published by a magazine or anthology and then later by me too, or the books I revived from previous years that I had removed from publication for dumb reasons, that total is way more impressive: 274,000 words! Over a quarter million! Wowzers! Almost half of that is the revival of my Tarnish: Thunderstrike Edition all by itself, which combines everything so far in that universe into one volume.
Those totals beat out 2016, when I published 77,500 new words and a total of 99,500 with reprints and all. Which is still pretty darn good itself!
And according to Scarecrow’s estimates (like it’s secret artificial intelligence or something), I expect to publish about 100,000 new words in 2018, between the Green-Eyed stories and DXM. Plus (I nearly forgot!), I have another Leonidas Hawksblood space pirate installment coming out this summer in Cirsova Magazine. Two installments, actually, as it’s a story in two parts. That’s another 11,500 words.
Words already written in 2016, along with at least 70,000 that are done as of right now.
Which makes it easier. Especially with the HUGE life changes we’re about to go through. Having the hardest part already done gives me a full year to get them finished up, polished up, and out the door. All the while, going through massive real-life stuff, starting new jobs and graduate school, ensuring the family makes the transition without too much psychological trauma, and everything else.
So my 2018 is already shaping up to be a hell of a year.
How’s about yours? Leave a comment and let me know!
By the way, you can still grab everything published in 2017, plus a couple bonus stories, via the Swords, Superheroes, and Space Opera Bundle. Hundreds and hundreds of pages worth of fiction for only SIX BUCKS. Get it while it lasts, folks, because once I get settled into my new life and 2018, this incredibly cheap bundle of books is going to go away. (Click here to find it on Bundle Rabbit, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.)
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
(2018 image from freepik.com, btw)