2014 – A relatively shitty writing year that turned out not so bad

It’s that time of the year when we all take stock of the 365 days that have passed, and think about the next 365. This year, my second full year of being a full-time writer, hasn’t gone to plan. But when does anything ever go exactly to plan? I’ve been reading writing and author blogs over the past week and how those authors have had relatively successful years and have moved ahead in their careers in leaps and bounds. Well, this isn’t one of those blogs. I’ve actually had a shitty writing year and it’s kinda my fault.

I started out the year not knowing where I was headed, which slowed my productivity down a lot. I self-published Sunday Fish, a short story, back in May, and then spent a month going over my business and writing plans and resetting some goals, even though I had no real idea what I wanted to be writing.

On a whim, and after a little encouragement from a good friend of mine, I submitted a short story to an anthology call – on the very last day they were due no less. This turned out to be the turning point of my career, and I finally found my direction after floundering for so long.

The anthology, First Time for Everything, published by Harmony Ink Press, accepted that short story manuscript, and for the first time ever, I found my work in print.

That little YA short story, Summer Crush, inspired me to go back to where I started my writing journey. Back to my uni days when I started writing fiction for fun and to break the monotony of studying for a business degree. I was writing from the heart back then – writing things I wanted to read and writing for fun. While the stories were basic and the main characters fantasy versions of me, reading over my notes (the stories themselves are on some long-ago lost floppy disks) made me realise that I was taking my writing way too seriously.

Because of that anthology, I’ve rediscovered my love for YA and my love for writing fun, light and (hopefully) entertaining stories with lesbian main characters. After spending the first half of the year struggling for ideas, I have a lot of them calling out for attention. I’m working on one at the moment, which I submitted to Harmony Ink Press as a novella but am currently trying to expand into a fully-fledged novel, and I have a possible 3-book series that I want to get stuck into next. After that, I have a couple of new ideas that have popped up over the last six months, so I have plenty of things to keep me busy.

I also learned that I work better with a basic outline. My current project has grown from a 21,000 word novella, to a 33,000 word novella, and hopefully will grow to a 45,000 word novel thanks to taking time before I started to write a basic story and chapter outline. I also re-outlined at each new editing stage, which allowed me to see where I could add chapters and scenes without changing the basic story structure too much. Apparently, I’m also an “adder” rather than a “cutter”. I write sparse, and then have to add detail, which is fine, but I need to get better at that otherwise it will take me way too long to get my books finished before I get sick of them.

I’ve also learned that while I can write a book quite fast if I have an outline, it takes a lot longer than I anticipated to edit one to get it to a high enough standard to submit to a publisher or self-publish.

I’ve also changed focus to being traditionally published with certain projects, which is a business decision more than an ego one (though having a print book to hold that was made by someone else and being accepted by a publisher is a big ego boost!)

So what’s ahead for 2015?

A lot of hard work is what’s ahead. First off the rank is my current project, which I’ll get back to the publisher by the end of February – watch this space for news on that one. As soon as that one’s been shipped off, I’ll be working on an outline for the 3-book series as well as two other books that have been marinating in my head drive for what seems like ages.

What would I like to have achieved by this time next year?

At least 3 more books out, of whatever lengths they end up being, though I have no idea whether any of them will be self-published or traditionally published. My main goal for 2015 is to concentrate on the lesbian YA work and get those stories finished.

That’s it from me for 2014 – see you on the flip-side in 2015. Happy New Year!

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