2019 Writing Year in Review

Writing This Year

Novels: Have written 40k on one and 70k on another, but none finished.

Novellas: 3 novella-length WFH books

Novellettes:  0

Short Stories: 0

Flash: 1

Paid Nonfiction: Book Riot posts, newsletter

Editing: Several small freelance editing gigs

Consigned to the trunk of awfulness, never to return: None this year.

Best/Favorite story of the year: N/A since I didn’t really finish anything as such this year.


Since I stopped doing the magic spreadsheet last year, I’ve decided to try a different tracking scheme. I’ve been tracking raw word count, the number of days I’ve been writing, and time spent on things like editing that are writing tasks but don’t directly generate word count.

Words: 290,850

Time Spent: 115:55 hours

Days Written: 267 out of 365

Obviously I’m not on the “Write Every Day” train any more. Did this work for me? I’m not sure. It’s been a weird fucking year.


Queries sent: 5
Rejections received: 3
Pending: 1
Most rejections received: This year, it’s The Devil Squid Apocalypse… which then sold to Giganotosaurus! WOO!
Gross earned: $11,153.59, about $2.5k down from last year. The bulk of this income came from work for hire; I didn’t sell anything that paid an advance this year, and royalties probably amounted to less than $1.3K total.

Published this year:

  1. Wireless and More Steam-Powered Adventures
  2. The Devil Squid Apocalypse
  3. The Stoker and the Plague Doctor in Straight Outta Deadwood
  4. Speculative Fiction on Tap: Romance Takeover Edition
  5. 25 of the Best Sci-fi Audiobooks to Listen to in 2019
  6. Pictures Worth a Thousand Nightmares
  7. Little, Brown to Publish Transphobic Novel That Erases Historical Trans Man
  8. From Audio to Paper: Deciphering Heard Words on the Page
  9. Speculative Fiction on Tap: Winter Books, Winter Beer
  10. One-Nighter Reads

How did I do on last year’s goals?

  1. Get back into writing nearly every day; get writing endurance back up to 1-2k words per day.
  2. Finish novella project and turn it in.
  3. Suck it up, find the money, and put at least the TV pilot script on the Black List. Submit to more contests.
  4. Make an actual effort to find out about work for hire for video games instead of just whining about it.
  5. Work on at least one collaborative project.
  6. Write one novel. Two as a stretch goal, but unlikely with the amount of freelance work I’ve frontloaded with.
  7. Finish editing Flash Memory and make it my agent’s problem.
  8. Read at least 60 books. (I read 63!)
  9. Do the birthday story, as usual.
  10. Do posts on my personal blog more often. My ability to write blog posts has kind of atrophied, and I need to practice it. (And convince myself I have interesting things to say, which is sometimes the harder part.)

Six out of ten ain’t bad, I guess?

Goals for 2020

  1. Figure out how to incorporate writing time into my new work week; achieve an average of 6,000 words per week.
  2. Write at least 3 short stories. (Additional: I really want to write a story to sub to Silk & Steel so one needs to be early in the year.)
  3. Finish both of the novels that I started this year.
  4. Do NaNoWriMo.
  5. Read at least 60 books.
  6. More blog posts.
  7. Refocus on character, character, character.
  8. Put fair share of time in on ongoing collaborative projects.
  9. Spend less time on Twitter.

As always, the challenge for making goals is answering the 3 questions: Is this something I can control? Is this actually achievable? Is this helping me?

Final Thoughts

If last year was a sucky year, this year was… perhaps less personally sucky, since it didn’t involve me having two screws put in my foot this time around. But it was a really weird year. Mostly positive personally, for all the world is a trash fire, but still definitely weird and I’m still trying to figure out how to work things out.

This year, I:

  1. Finished recovering from surgery, got off disability, went back to my full workload with stern warnings from my orthopedic surgeon that I needed to find a new job.
  2. Found a new job that’s a desk job, which also pays much better than my old job… but has a lot less available down time.
  3. This new job pays well enough that I no longer need to scramble for work for hire to cover my bills. So I came to the realization that I can now focus just on my stuff…
  4. Which has also come with the realization that my writing time is a precious resource and I need to be thoughtful about what I use it to write. I still have long term goals about screenwriting, but right now I need to focus on novels. Because hopefully novels will help me get to a place where I can have more time to work on other projects I want. But running around in all directions isn’t doing anything but stressing me out, because I’m doing multiple things halfway instead of one thing all the way.

One year out from 40, I’m still trying to figure out how to configure my life. I’m still trying to figure out who I am as a writer. And looking back on this year, despite the fact that I wrote almost 290K words, I feel like I didn’t do anything. Which is an illusion; I did a lot. I covered student loan payments with my writing. But finishing work for hire stuff and finishing your own stuff feels very different. And I finished damned little that belonged to me this year. I sold very little that belonged to me. It’s difficult to not have a massive internal crisis about this–I am having one, to be frank. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve forgotten how to write. Others, I feel like I am only, to quote, “competent, but unremarkable.” There are obviously far worse things to be, but I’m ambitious enough to want to achieve more.

Next year, I hope, will be different. As always, the solution is to do the work. That is the one thing I can control.

Also, Parasite was the best movie of the year. Pass it on.

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