|Yes, a crazy burst of inspiration led to this story|
I'm really excited about this brand new shiny New Year. My goal is a healthier and more productive year, and I think that's a reasonably realistic goal.
By the standards of when I began writing (back in year one), last year was a reasonably productive year. I wrote two novels (The Monet Murders and Murder Takes the High Road) and three short stories ("Plenty of Fish," "Halloween is Murder," "The Boy Next Door"). I put together a couple of print collections (If Only in My Dreams and the two Boy Meets Body collections) a couple of audio books (The Monet Murders, the Point Blank box set) and a slew of translations and box sets. I experimented with Kindle Unlimited (which I will blog on, but let's cut to the chase--HELL NO). I hosted a fan/writer retreat on Catalina Island, I attended Bouchercon mystery conference, visited the SO's homeland (Canada, but really Montreal), got a puppy. And that's just the stuff I remember off the top of my head. Once upon a time, yes, that would have been considered a busy and productive year!
Oh. And I started a number of projects I didn't complete by the end of the year: Blind Side (ARGH), The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out, Seance on a Summer's Night. Ouch.
Ouch. Ouch. OUCH.
There was ill health and depression (my own and the SO's) and other adventures.
It was not the year I planned on. But that's life, right?
And it's possible that this will not be the year I'm planning either. GULP.
The thing is, I can't really apologize for life (and my brain) being what it is. I won't deny that the angry emails and comments did affect me (not in an encouraging or productive way) with the end result that I've come to the conclusion that I'm not a machine--or a data entry clerk--and the nature of creativity is such that sometimes inspiration and creative impulse--or lack therein--supersede schedules and best laid plans. I'm sorry I didn't produce the stories I'd hoped to produce on schedule, but unfortunately that is not how creativity works. Ill health and depression and stress take a toll. For those who don't get that, there is really nothing more to say.
But it took me a while to get to the place where I could say that with confidence. For a lot of my life I was a people-pleaser. Someone who worked very hard to make everything okay for everyone else, even when that wasn't realistic or healthy for me. And, if I'm honest, I'm still prone to people-pleasing. :-) Which is fine, so long as it isn't coming at the price of my own creativity and mental health.
I've been a writer--or at least a storyteller--since before I could read. Seriously. As a little kid coloring in my coloring books I regaled the other little kids with stories about what we were coloring. I never viewed writing as a get-rich scheme, and while I understand that it has indeed become that for some, it has never been that for me. Do I earn a living at this? Yes. Is it a comfortable living? Some years it is more comfortable than others--it is always precarious and there is no retirement plan. (If you think that doesn't matter, your spouse is the breadwinner in your family unit.)
I did not become a writer so that I could end up more stressed out and harassed than when I was a corporate overlord--except without the steady paycheck. :-D That's one of the conclusions I came to this year. I do believe in discipline and commitment and staying on schedule, but the creative life has to allow for deviations, for inspiration, for lack of inspiration. That's another conclusion I came to this year. I'm not driven by market or what's selling or where there's an opening or blah-blah-blah. I write what I am moved to write. It's an awkward thing. I can't just crank out the words like there's no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow and I will still be writing and living with the consequences of that tomorrow. I've been a professional writer since I was sixteen. I'm in it for the long haul, as I've already proved. A lot of what I knew is gone forever. But a lot of what I believe in remains true--and will always remain true--craft matters and heart trumps algorithm. You show respect to the reader by delivering the best book that is in you--and that respect is repaid in reader loyalty.
|Yes, there will probably be surprises|
My plan for 2018 is still to deliver the stories I was unable to deliver in 2017. Blind Side, The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out, In Other Words Murder-- and the non-fiction Mr and Mrs Murder. To that end I've accepted ZERO contracts with any publisher. The Magician Murders will proceed as planned. The only other scheduled stories are The Haunted Heart: Spring and Slay Ride (and those are not due until the fall of 2018) . That's the plan and while there may be delays or the occasional surprise story, I intend to stick to it to the best of my ability. I read some, frankly, idiotic comments last year about my willful discarding of deadlines. The reality is those long-anticipated books will bring in the most cash for me, so of course I want to do them. I like money as much as the next person--and I need it as much as the next person. But I'm not going to half-ass those stories--or any stories--and I'm not going to force them at the expense of my mental or physical health.
Speaking of which, that's another of the big lessons from 2017. I plan to focus on health in 2018. Writers tend to be...unhealthy. We sit on our asses in our own little world and that creates fat butts and fat brains. I want to maintain the fitness I gained the hard way in 2017. Both the physical fitness and the mental fitness.
Other plans for 2018? There will be a new website. Mine has become...cumbersome. If I can possibly get in, I'm thinking of going to GRL this year. And finally, I will never again schedule any projects to be written during the holidays. REMIND ME OF THAT ONE. I HAVE A TENDENCY TO FORGET THAT RULE.
Stuff will happen. That's what I love about every new year.
What did you learn from 2017? What new strategies will you implement in 2018?