A Year in Writing: A Look Back at 2013

And I’m back. Thanks for your patience. It allowed me to finish the first draft of a novella I’ve been working on. Chekhov_Gun

So…it’s been a crazy year. Crazy busy and good. I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made in fiction writing this year. I want to share what I think were my biggest achievements this year in this post. Then, next week I want to put down my plans for 2014.

In true blog fashion, I want to do a countdown of my biggest writing achievements for this year. I’m putting just five down and they’re in reversed  order with the biggest achievement, #1, coming last.

5. Finding my social media niche.

Staying committed to this blog and figuring out where it fits into my writing schedule was a bit of a trick. I’m glad I’ve stuck with it and I’ve learned quite a bit in writing posts by simply sharing my thoughts about the craft of writing. Hopefully, next year, I will have time to write more of those deeper dive posts like Past Masters, Rare B Sides and The Craft of Writing. Those are the posts I like best and, based on your reactions, I think you guys did too.

I would love to devout more time to the blog, but with work, fiction writing and, oh yeah, that thing called “life” it can be tough. It makes me proud that despite all these distractions, I kept the blog going. I think the blog has found its little niche for those interested in writing and, honestly, that’s more important to me than raw hits and viewer numbers.

4. Finishing off my first “comic” piece, a novella.

Last week I finally finished off a comedy horror novella. It was a bear. Not so much writing it as finding the time to get it done. Life just always seemed to find a way to shift priorities this year and put itself first. But I didn’t give up on the piece and I got it done.

In the end, it came off a bit more serious than I would have liked. All this, despite its purely comic premise. I blame Gogol for this. Gogol has been my greatest inspiration as a comic writer. And damn him, all his comedy always has a serious thread running through it. I think my novella has the same issue. A drama dipped in a coating of comic sauce.

As the piece goes through subsequent drafts, I will share the title and more details with you guys. I also will be dialing up the comedy. It’s still really rough, but I’m looking forward to polishing the piece next year.

3. Publishing my historical novella.

This year, I also published my first historical novella, “The Man Who Ran from God.” Based on sales, it hasn’t done as well as The Library of Lost Books. So, I have to say I was a little disappointed in its reception. But hey, that’s part of being a writer, isn’t it? You write your heart out every time. Sometimes, it strikes a chord with the public, sometimes it leaves them cold. My job as a writer is to forge ahead.

Still, getting a novella done is big. And doing it in a new genre so that you learn the little nuances of that niche, was an important learning experience. That’s why it’s number 3.

2. Writing a ripping good short story.

I am really proud of my short story, “The Ghul of Yazd.” I felt I really did well getting this story down (here’s a raw recap of the day I wrote the story). Also, it had strong characters, good pacing and was full of showing, not telling. I think it was a big step forward for me as a storyteller. I can’t wait to share it with all of you, but first I have to find a publisher. You can track the process of the Ghul here where I’ve created a submission tracker for the piece. 

It’s a big achievement and one I’m proud of, no matter how/when/if it gets picked up by a mag.

1. Getting a story published in a magazine.

Hands down, my biggest achievement in 2013 was  seeing my story, “The Hatchlings” published in Fiction Vortex.

Getting accepted, getting paid, signing a contract and seeing the story live on a website was a huge boost. It’s given me the encouragement to keep writing every weekend and keep moving ahead. Of all the things that happened in my ‘writing life’ this year, this was the most important moment. I’ll never forget it.

Alright, that’s it for 2013. Next week, a look ahead to what I’d like to do in 2014.

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