Whenever I feel like I haven’t produced anything in a while, I look at what stories I’ve posted. 2016 might not have been my most prolific year, but I did write – and post – a little bit over 66,000 words, across 22 stories. I’m not including the work I did on the rewrite of my sci-fi adventure story, or all of the back story snippets I hashed out when the editing wasn’t working to my liking, or the starts to stories I scrapped or set aside because I went back to editing and rewrites, because those have not been seen by eyes other than mine. They would also be a lot harder to calculate.
Not a great year for output, but not as poor as I’d originally suspected when thinking back on it.
Not every one of these stories is great, but each one represents a personal effort, and my desire to become a better storyteller. If I had to pick a favorite, I know which one I’d choose…but I won’t say because a parent playing favorites is not a good thing. 😉
For those of you who took time out of your lives to read any of these, and especially to those folks who let me know what they thought, thank you from the depths of my artist’s heart. Hearing that I’ve touched, amused, or entertained someone else with these stories keeps me going day after day.
What was your 2016 year in writing like? Any surprises, challenges, or turnarounds? Here’s looking forward to a strong 2017 in all of our writing goals!
Yeah, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. But, this year, I’m participating as a NaNo Rebel.
I got the idea – and the bug – from writer and editor Kate Johnston, aka 4amwriter (website and twitter), who talks more in-depth about the concept of how to be a NaNo rebel here. As for me, I’m using the opportunity and join-in rush of NaNo to push myself forward on a long-overdue rewrite of 2014’s NaNo, Highs, Lows, and In-Betweens, a space opera that follows about two years after the events in my Borderlands book, From Hell (A Love Story):
Like Kate, I’m using this NaNoWriMo to concentrate on aspects of the book other than the wordcount. I’ve completed NaNo at least six times over the last ten years, so that 50,000-words-in-30-days goal is not a significant challenge for me. What is a challenge is making sure that every chapter in this rewrite has a conflict, every character gets their due, and the end of every chapter has a hook to keep the reader pressing on. No nothing-happens-here moments that go on for pages; no dangling or missing motivations; no falling interest to make the reader put the story down. In many ways, this is a much tougher challenge, and I almost wish I’d gone the easy wordcount route. But this story – like all my stories – is dear to me, and I want to see it finished: bigger, better, more badass than ever before.
If you are participating in NaNoWriMo 2016, whether as a traditional drafter, pantser, plantser, or rebel, let’s connect! My username is bonusparts over there, and I’m always open to more buddies.
What are your writing plans for November? NaNo? Rebellion? Let me know!
In addition to being the start of National Novel Writing Month, November 1 has additional significance for American writers: it’s National Author’s Day! Here is some of the history, as supplied by NationalDayCalendar.com:
The idea of setting aside a day to celebrate American authors came from Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, president of the Bement (Illinois) Women’s Club in 1928. McPherson was a teacher and an avid reader throughout her life. During World War I, when she was recuperating in a hospital, she wrote a fan letter to fiction writer Irving Bacheller, telling him how much she had enjoyed his story, “Eben Holden’s Last Day A’Fishin.” Bacheller sent her an autographed copy of another story, and McPherson realized that she could never adequately thank him for his gift. Instead, she showed her appreciation by submitting an idea for a National Author’s Day to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, which passed a resolution setting aside November 1 as a day to honor American writers. In 1949 the day was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
If you follow the link, you can also read about how you can observe this holiday and support your favorite authors!
I may not be a “real” author – as my in-laws remind me so often, since I’ve only self-published one novel, and it was a fan fiction novel, at that – but I like to think that this day can at least sort of be for me, as well, since writing is such an integral part of my life. I’m also lucky to know personally so many talented published authors and aspiring-to-be-published authors, and I wanted to give a little shout-out to them. If you’ve got a moment, check out their blogs to read about their journeys, and, while you’re there, give them a comment or even click on one of their books to purchase!
Kate Johnston @ 4amwriter.com : writer, coach, editor with several handbooks to guide you in your writing journey
Kourtney Heintz @ kourtneyheintz.com : author of The Six Train to Wisconsin, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, and the brand new Highway Thirteen to Manhattan!
Vanessa Chapman @ vanessa-chapman.com : writer with multiple skilful blogs and several articles (at lifehack!) to read
JM McDowell @ jmmcdowell.com : writer (and archaeologist!) of the delightful Meghan Bode series of mysteries, which you can read on her blog
George McNeese @ Project Blacklight : writer with several articles, reviews, and even short stories to share
ShadeTheRaven @ Shade The Raven : writer with lots of short stories to fill your days
Make sure to send a little bit of love to YOUR favorite author, today!
Timehop’s Abe wished me a happy birthday! (He forgot the comma, but that’s okay – he’s a dinosaur.)
I like birthdays. They are unique celebrations of an individual. Every other holiday and anniversary we share with one or more people, but a birthday is often for one person alone. Twins – or family or friends who otherwise share the same birthday – have a slightly different perspective, but there is still a uniqueness to a birthday, encompassing specific wishes for good health and good fortune for a person.
Google got in on the action, too.
I wrote for my birthday, as a kind of a gift to myself. While I didn’t write about an actual birthday, this time, tapping out that short story made me think about all of the birthday scenes and chapters I have written over the years. Turns out, there are quite a few:
- Peter, in 2007’s NaNoWriMo “Sixes and Sevens”
- Larry (and Sally, too), in the Doctor Who-Lite Songbirds series short story “Slave Girls and Shining Knights”
- Yousuke, in 1 More Chance! chapter 22, and Chie in chapter 25
- Rob, in the “Finding Mister Wright” series short story “Thirty-Nine”
- Ross, in chapter 19 of Fearless (a somewhat do-nothing chapter but which I’m loathe to lose all the same, for its lightheartedness among the rest of the story’s heavy emotional weight)
- and Hell, in the Borderlands short story “Whack”
Not to be left out, here’s Twitter’s note.
Birthdays represent hope. Thinking back on it, all of those chapters and short stories were about life and the role hope plays within it, whether it’s hope for the future, hope to be a better person, or hope simply to share more days with the people we love. It’s a toss-up whether any of those stories actually worked the way they were conceived to do…but the joy of writing them gave me purpose, at least for a little while.
I hope good things for you, dear reader, today and every day, especially if you, too, are a writer looking for purpose. Because why wait for a birthday to share that?
Do you like writing birthdays in your stories? If so, do they tend to be happy events, or sad ones? What present did you give to yourself on your last birthday? Let’s all have cake!
One of my recent Timehop memories was a #TBT
to my very first 100 Word Challenge for Grown-Ups, from February 2012. At the time, I was deeply entrenched in writing the first draft of “Fearless,” which remains one of my hope-for novels. (It’s currently in draft 2.5, for anyone wondering.) That long-ago 100-word entry was titled “Everyone Loves Neville,”
and, if you’re interested, you can see the original at the link. That first writing challenge started me on a path of picking up more over the years. Through those challenges, I learned a lot about the value of words.
There’s a lot in that first foray that I like. There’s also room for improvement. Here’s a second take on that effort, hopefully for the better:
The girl lingered beside him, her chest heaving even though they’d been out of the water for ten minutes. “Thanks for the lesson, Nev.” Her wet lashes flickered at him. “If there’s ever anything I can do…?”
“Just practise,” Nev said, before sending her on her way.
Ross sidled to his shoulder, to stare after the girl swaying up the shore. “You lucky bastard. Everyone loves you!”
Nev looked at him: his friend with the wide, luscious smile and eyes so deep and blue he often dreamt of drowning in them. He sniffed and picked up his board. “Not everyone.”
I tried to set myself to a 100-word story-a-day challenge this past May, but it didn’t pan out. I did manage a few short vignettes which ended up being pretty good, but the lack of readers and feedback quickly deflated my excitement.
There wasn’t much reason to go back and “fix” this bit of short challenge writing, except that Ross, Nev, and the others have been on my mind again, of late, and that Timehop reminder of my first 100WCGU challenge prompted me to revisit sweet, lovestruck Nev. Of course, I can never stop at rewriting just one thing. As it so goes, I’ve also been working on rewrites for lots of my “Finding Mister Wright” short stories (including the one I just sent in for 4amwriter’s Dare to Write summer challenge!), and Highs, Lows, and In-Betweens, the big sci-fi/action team novel from 2014’s NaNoWriMo. But, that’s an update for another day….
Who else out there remembers the 100WCGU challenges? Have you ever challenged yourself with a writing-limit goal? Working on any interesting rewrites, lately? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to know I’m not doing this alone. 🙂