The Year in Review – What’s My Progress So Far?

December once more. Dang. Time flies so fast these days. I still remember what I was doing this time a year ago. I was halfway through the first draft of Colony and averaging about 3500-4000 words a day. Now, I’ve reached that time of year on the calendar one year down the road, and it’s time for me to look back and ask myself: “What on Earth have I accomplished in the last 365 days?”

It’s a valid question to ask of myself as the new year approaches, because I firmly believe that nothing motivates like having firm, measurable goals. In fact, I can say that they’re one of the reasons I’ve gone from writing under a 1000 words per day to writing 4000 or 5000 with gleeful abandon. In fact, this year I shattered another goal, setting a new record for myself during the writing of Beyond the Borderlands.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Better to take things in stride. So, without further ado, here is the year in review.

Word Goals
The year of 2015 was a busy one for me. As most of you readers know, I tend to mark my progress and work based on two goals: The Daily word goal, and the Monthly word goal. If I reach the end of the day and I see that I hit my daily goal, I know I’ve been hard at work. Likewise with my monthly goal: If I reach it, I know I was working as hard as I was supposed to be. Now, the monthly goal varies a little, because I try to account for things like editing (which really don’t add to the word count much—I only count 20% of the words edited as “written” for goalkeeping measures, but only once, all later passes are not counted) and brainstorming, but in a good month I’ll meet all my goals.

That said, how’d I do in 2015? Well, let’s take a look at the total number of words written, first, not counting editing. Remember, this is just fiction work—words written while writing a book, story, or Being a Better Writer post.

2015 Total to date, minus editing: 626,594 words

2015 Total to date, including editing: 771,597 words

Obviously, I’m going to call this year a success as far as writing goes. In fact, it was a such a success that in two of those months I broke 100,000 words written for the month (both times while I was working on Beyond the Borderlands). But even without those two upset months, things worked out pretty well for me. They’ve slowed down in the last four months, as I took an emergency trip to Alaska to make some fishing money and then came back to nothing but editing, but I almost think that’s a balancing act. Had I kept up with my blistering writing pace rather than stopping to edit and publish a few things, it’s very likely that I could have cracked a million words, or at least hit 900,000.

All in all, I’m calling this year a success for the amount of content I produced.

Books Written and Published
Looking back over this last year, I can’t say I’m entirely pleased with it, but I would hesitate to call it anything but a success at the same time. In the end of February 2015 I finished the first draft of Colony, a discovery-written (read: not planned out) Science Fiction Space Opera Epic that ended up being about 326,000 words.

Then, while I sent that initial alpha off to some readers to get feedback, I went to work on Beyond the Borderlands, a 300,600 word Fantasy Epic fanfiction for my original fans, and pumped that out in three months (that’s the difference planning makes).

With that in editing and feedback rolling in for Colony, I decided I was done with long stuff for a while and proceeded to try my hand at something new: A “short” story collection.  I call it “short” because the longest of the stories I put together for it weighs in at 38,000 words, roughly thirty pages longer than the first book I published. All in all, Unusual Events ended up being somewhere around 140,000 words once all was done, and then it went into editing also.

So, those three were written (or in Colony‘s case, finished) in 2015, so where are they now?

Beyond the Borderlands was published as fanfiction (which it was) and was met with critical acclaim. People fell in love with Blade and her rag-tag band of sorta-heroes in their struggle to face off against a demigod, and Beyond even manage to impress the jaded, cynical, acid-spewers of 4chan (which I certainly did not expect). All in all, a stellar success. And, you know, free. So notoriety is its own reward in this case.

Colony is currently being edited heavily in preparation for the second Alpha, at which point it will not only be much cleaner and more concise, but actually longer (several sections on technology were rewritten to give them clearer meaning and context). Time will tell what my readers will make of it, but I’ve enjoyed my time in the universe, and I look forward to seeing what the readers all make of it. At this point I’m aiming for a release sometime around April of 2016, but time will tell.

Unusual Events, meanwhile is currently partway through Beta. While it’s unlikely to make the holiday 2015 release I envisioned due to me losing most of October and September, it will likely be out early next year. The cover is on its way (you’ll be getting your first look in the next few days, hopefully) and the feedback from both Alpha and Beta readers has been encouraging. There are some wonderful stories in here, folks, stories that I’m very proud of. Additionally, there are a few genres that I’ve tackled for the first time (such as the superhero story) that have turned out quite well. Not making a release this year barring a miracle, but good work all the same.

Other Areas
This year had some interesting developments in other areas. At the urging of my readers, I finally started a Patreon Account in August. I’m still playing with it, as the interface and tools leave a lot to be desired, but it’s something I feel comfortable experimenting with.

I also started this very site in March, fresh on the finishing of the first draft of Colony. And I’ve been pleased with it so far. A lot of it has been an experiment, but a good one, and I like having one place I can hang all the various hats from time to time.

Work on Being a Better Writer has continued, though I trust you guys to tell me how the quality has been. At the moment, no major changes are planned.

 

FINALE
So, what did I achieve this year? I have:

Three books written (ColonyBeyond the Borderlands, and Unusual Events) totaling 775,000 words between them.

One book published (Beyond the Borderlands). Two more close to it (and if I can get Colony out before May 2016, then I will have officially published 775,000+ words in a one-year period).

626,594 words written … actually down from last year, but as I edited/am editing three massive books for publishing, it’s understandable. I can officially say, after three years of 500,000+ word totals, that I have beaten my old teacher for proliferation. I told him I would.

63 Being a Better Writer posts uploaded on various subjects, freely available for all to read.

 

My end result? I am awarding myself, for the year of 2015, a work ethic of Satisfactory. May 2016 be even grander.

And to that end, I need to get to work.

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