What a year. I’ve struggled with what to say about it. It’s been a tough year for many, but somehow I have been able to dodge the worst of it. I’ve stayed healthy and employed, but I know others have not been so lucky.
But I need to be honest and I have to say from a pure writing perspective, this has been a good year for me. Borderline great. I have had lots of writing accomplishments. It’s weird to celebrate at times like these, so I won’t overdo it. But I will say I’m proud of myself, quite proud (chuffed?), at what I’ve accomplished in 2020 in the midst of a pandemic. So, without futher ado, here’s a look back at my writing achievements this year:
Two of my stories got published.
This year my story Pacha-Mama was published in the Canadian magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, in February. It’s a parable/horror story about the legacy of imperialism set in modern-day Peru and confronts several, shall we say, unresolved issues. You know, the “past ain’t past” stuff. This story was a LONG TIME COMING (25 rejections received by Yours Truly), so don’t give up!
Another story, The Number Thief, came out in The Magazine of History and Fiction. It’s a mythological retelling of the migration of the (erroneously-labelled) Arabic numerals from the Muslim world into the Christian, European world. I’m rather attached to this piece, so I was glad to finally share it with the world. This is also Yusuf ibn Yaqzan’s second appearance after The Ghul of Yazd. It was good to venture forth with him again.
I made my works discoverable.
I have really been concerned lately about making my works accessible. Truth is, earlier this year many of them were simply inaccessible. Totally. You see, quite a few had been published by small magazines that are now defunct, so the stories were literally dead links.
I landed on a solution, but perhaps not the best one. I decided to publish them on the Amazon Kindle platform. It’s not the ideal solution and I would like to have them published in hard copy at some point. Nevertheless, they’re almost all out now (except for those two stories I published this year) and anyone with a device can download them and read them.
This is vitally important to me since it lets my blog readers and others out there dive in, find my stories, and maybe even become fans. It’s a big step and took some time to wrangle new covers, manuscripts, Kindle e-book formats, etc. I’m looking into other ways to get the works out there, so stay tuned.
My wordcount stayed high.
Honestly, this is my key metric for success: What I have written or edited in the last year? Recognition is fine, but the real self-measure is whether I’ve been writing or not. And this year, I did.
By my count I got 84,512 words down this year. It’s a lot. Maybe too much when it’s balanced with a full-time job. But I’m damn proud of it, prouder than anything else I did this year. (By the way, I wrote 82,000 words in 2019, so I’ll give myself an “A” for consistency and persistence). I even finished a little piece, something I’m calling TBOS for now. More on that later.
I gave my first author interview.
Yeah, this was weird. So, I did my first “author” interview this year. The talented folks over at Kyanite Publishing asked me to do an interview about my story Breakpoint which they published back in 2018. I had hoped to do something like this for awhile, but it all came together really quickly. Kyanite sent an email offering to do an interview, I replied and we set it up. Here’s the interview.
My blog stats went up. Quite a bit.
It’s just another metric, yeah. And yeah, worldwide people have been locked down with not much to do, but head to the InterWebs. But the blog got lots more love this year. How much? Views are up 88% and visitors are up 82% year over year. That is awesome! So thanks to all of you for stopping by! You make this blog what it is. [NOTE: The section above was slightly edited to reflect final end-of-year stats.]
I found local writing peers.
This was a big goal of mine at the start of this year. And I think it turned out quite nicely. I am now a member of the Northern Virginia Writers’ Club. It’s a great little group and it’s been awesome to learn and compare notes with local writers. It’s great to have a peer check and to be able to commiserate about writing, marketing, and life in this crazy year. I’ve already learned quite a bit and am looking forward to meeting in person again sometime next year.
So…[deep breath] this all adds up to a great WRITING year for me. A year to be proud of. A year in which I met the goals I laid out in January: Lots of words down, stories published, and building the fan base (slowly, surely) with discoverable works. I have to say, finding and learning from peers that I respect has been the icing on the cake. It was really something that was missing in my writing life and I encourage all of you writers out there to do the same: find some local writers and start hanging out with them. The Internet should give you lots of options.
Honestly, those are really the writer fundamentals for me: written words, peers and fans. And I feel like I want to say this was my best year of writing ever. But I hesitate to say so, because I think more good ones still lie ahead. In fact, I’ve had a good amount of time to think about things lately and it’s time to aim higher.
But more on that next time.