I think if I learned anything in 2013, it's not to dwell on things.
Or more to the point, to dwell on things only when necessary.
This year I gave up doing a lot of things that were either a waste of time or were distractions.
One was giving up reading the news. I did not do this to become an ignoramus, far from it; it was that I had become keenly aware of the quality (or lack thereof) of the most popular news sites (CNN, Yahoo, etc.). It frustrated me how it was no longer reportage--the profession I know quite well through my father--and had devolved into the quest for site hits. Go to any high-traffic news site, and you'll see it: the headline/link is no longer informative, it's a teaser to get you to click through. The article itself teases you, in its attempt to get a rise out of you. There are blatant and often false assumptions bandied about--the latest being the shock and horror of Obama's selfie during the Mandela memorial the other day being one. It seems these sites no longer aim to inform so as to get site hits and thus more revenue from the ads that pop up on those pages. And when you get the populace in a dither about some perceived peccadillo so that they spend all day yelling at and accusing each other of being stupid poopyheads in the comments section and Twitter, well...their job is done. It's pretty much made a mockery of actual writing and reporting.
That's not to say that I've put an embargo on all news ever--more that I now choose my sources carefully. Call me stuck-up if you want, but good captivating writing is a hell of a lot better than the blustery cheapshot. This is in addition to my resolution over the past few years: I don't need to be plugged in 24/7
. I'm still informed...I'm just no longer stuck in the feedback loop.
I also forced myself to ignore that "but you haven't written anything new in years!
" voice in my head. The thing is, I have
written new things--especially this year, when I heavily revised the trilogy. There are completely new scenes in there, right alongside some of the oldest scenes written from years ago. I realized that it was more important for me to address writing priorities before I went off onto the storyline playground; I've been sitting on this trilogy for over a decade, and I felt it was high time I brought it to the next level.
Which brings me to the next thing: future plans.
As I've mentioned before, I'm frantically getting A Division of Souls
and its synopsis ready for submission to Angry Robot Books. I have no idea whether or not it'll be accepted, but I'm super excited about this, as AR publishes some of my favorite books, and I've a feeling the trilogy would be a nice fit with them.
More to the point, 2013 was a year where I learned a hell of a lot about what makes a good manuscript. A few years ago I opined about being stuck in that "OK Plateau"
, where I had a decent story but lacked the "oomph" to make it to a professional level. In the comments I'd said that one of the problems was that I had too vague of a goal--I wanted to be a pro writer, and...yeah. So I spent the time between then and now working on a more concrete goal: not to just be a pro, but to consciously write on a pro level, to consciously revise the trilogy into something publishable, and most importantly, to keep my writing up at that level.
And thus the last year and a half focusing solely on the revision of the trilogy, the Welcome to Bridgetown website
, and all the constant reading, rereading, learning, and relearning the craft.
So! What does 2014 have in store for me?
Well, regardless as to whether or not the trilogy gets accepted by Angry Robot or some other publisher or agency, next year is the year of Moving Forward. I'll be expanding on the Mendaihu Universe (my new name for the trilogy's setting) with new novels and perhaps short stories, maybe even applying some of what I've learned to newer projects as well. I'll be updating Welcome to Bridgetown
with more insights and commentary over the year. And once I finally finish the 'Blogging the Beatles' series, I'll also be posting music insights and commentary over at Walk in Silence
. And on a more personal level, I'll be working more on my morning words, poetry, art, and music. The finished, posted output for those last three may not be as high as the previous, but I do hope to keep more of a schedule.
Yes, there is a theme here: consistency.
That will be the main goal for 2014: to maintain this higher standard across the board.