I probably shouldn’t be writing this. I’m procrastinating on doing a final cleanup of Book 2 before I send it to my editor, so of course my brain wanted to do a 2017 writing retrospective post instead. But I think that it’s easy for writers to get caught up in the weeds and lose sight of how much we’ve actually accomplished, so I’m stepping back to take stock of my year.
Things I did this in 2017:
- FINALLY finished Book 2 sometime this summer. For anyone who’s curious, the second book IS harder, the sophomore slump is very very real (so is imposter syndrome), and writing another manuscript will make you doubt everything you thought you knew about writing. I was very lucky to have attended the CSSF Novel Writer’s Workshop with Kij Johnson, which helped me think through my myriad plot holes and develop an outline for Book 3 that I feel comfortable with.
- Wrote about 64k words of Book 3 (at the time of this blog post.) Work on this one was much slower because I spent almost this entire past semester applying for graduate school. But now I’m on break, and by my count have written 15,000 words in the last week, so we’re doing pretty well.
- Wrote a non-fiction piece on diversity at writing workshops and sold it to the SFWA blog. It’ll be up sometime in the next few weeks, and it’s about the Racial Authority Problem–that is, when you become the default authority on everything race-related by virtue of being the only POC in the room.
- Sold another non-fiction essay to [CLASSIFIED AS OF NOW AND TO BE REVEALED SOON.] It’s about ghosts, historical memory, and writing historical fiction. I’m thrilled for this one. It’s been both easy and painful to write, which I think is an indication that it will be good.
- Did my first ever panels (and went to my second ever writing convention) at World Fantasy Con. And I met some amazing people at WFC that I can now count as friends, which was probably the highlight of the year.
Things I learned in 2017:
- Outlines are your friends. Writing by the seat of your pants might work for the first book in a trilogy but it CERTAINLY WILL NOT WORK FOR THE REST OF IT.
- Writing at school is really, really hard. Go easy on yourself. Don’t panic so much.
- Don’t put off reading, even when you’re deep into deadlines. Reading fiction–good fiction, different fiction–will remind you how to string words together. It’ll remind you how to open and close chapters. It’ll teach you what natural dialogue sounds like, because God knows you write like everyone’s reading out loud from a military strategy manual.
- You are a better writer than you were before, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
- Don’t write next to your dog. He will demand that you pet him and you won’t get anything done.
It was a difficult year, but a good year. I’m proud of what I’ve done, even though sometimes bringing myself to write felt like pulling teeth. I’m starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of being a career writer now, not just a one-shot wonder. The difference now, I think, is that I write. Every day, according to schedule, until I meet word count, no matter how much I don’t want to. I write.