Looking Back: Year 3 in the Books
As the sun sets on 2015 I thought I’d take a moment and look back at year 3 in the books. This has been a tough year for my writing career, no two ways about it. I didn’t get anything published and my existing books have not done well. It’s tempting to pin this on delays (several month’s worth) that I had with my editors, which certainly were a factor, but that would not be the whole story.
You see when I published my first novel three years ago I was rather naive. I thought readers would recognize all the hard work I put in, swoon over my stories, and love them as much as I did. And then I started getting some negative reviews. And then my sales tapered off. And then I started thinking I must be the worst writer to have ever put pen to paper. These experiences really did a number on my motivation to the extent that there where times when I could have been pressing forward on my edits, but found myself dragging my feet, mired in the slough of self-doubt.
But now, as I reflect on the sort of year I’ve had, I’m actually grateful, truly grateful for the struggles. Because I’ve realized that I needed to grow up a bit as a writer. I needed to discover my weaknesses and work to overcome them, to put in more hours and hone my craft. Am I there yet? Not remotely. But I’ve learned to appreciate the red ink and the hard knocks. In some ways I feel like a prize fighter sparring in the ring saying, “Hit me! Come on, give me all you’ve got!”
Less is More
And that’s why, as disappointed as I am with not having reached my publishing goals for the year and for the general lack of success my previous work is having, I am glad to be where I’m at right now. Because the stuff I’m working on right now is better than it was a year ago. For Ascent of the Nebula, I’ve cut around 12,000 words off the manuscript in the last two edits, roughly 10% of the novel. And it’s not scenes I’m cutting, it’s repetitive sentences, redundant phrasing, “polite” prose as one of my editors called it. It’s the difference between, “yes, I think you are able to do that” and “you can” (that’s a forced example, but you get the point). I’ll never be Ernest Hemingway (nor do I aspire to be), but I am learning to write in a cleaner, leaner manner.
As I stand on the threshold of 2016 my “senior year” in publishing I think I’ll have learned enough and put in enough work to “graduate” so to speak, transitiioning into churning out more polished, accomplished work. Ascent of the Nebula will be releasing in Feburary and The Last Motley, my fantasy novel, will hopefully be ready sometime in the second half of the year as well. It’s already back from the editor (yay!) and I’ll be transitioning to editing it full-time as soon as I finish with Ascent. I also have a short novelette I’d like to try and get out as well.
So that’s a brief look at year 3 in the books. A turbulent, muddy year, to be suer, but one where a lot of progress took place “under the hood”. Thanks for stopping by and for your interest in my work. Good things are on the horizon.