Welcome to another round-up post! This is where I hold myself accountable and cast an eye over what I did this year.
As per usual, I feel like it wasn’t enough. But then, it always feels that way. At this point, I’m sure it will never feel like “enough.” “Enough” is an asymptote—we may get close, but we never really reach it. I think we need to hold onto conflicting truths (It’s never enough/We can do it!) simultaneously, or we spiral into despair.
But enough philosophizing. What did I do this year?
What I Did in 2018
Six Stories, Told at Night won the Parsec Award
Finished writing/editing the Beer Magic novel
Took the first steps in finding it a home
Wrote 9.5 new short stories
Submitted short stories, though not as many as I’d like
“On Thin Ice” came out on Tales from the Archives
“Ti-Jean’s Last Adventure, as Told to Raccoon” sold to Lightspeed (it’s out in February)
“Song of the Oliphant” sold to/came out with Lackington’s (read it here)
Reprint rights to “La Corriveau” sold to Augur (it’ll be on their blog in the new year)
“Her Hands Like Ice” will be included in Bracken’s print anthology (details when I have them)
Finished writing DinoKnights for Choice of Games
Released DinoKnights with Choice of Games (play it here!)
Attended ReaderCon and Can-Con
A Canticle of Light was produced by Missed Metaphor Productions
Adapted/produced a stage version of Six Stories, Told at Night for the Toronto Fringe Festival
Six Stories, Told at Night got shortlisted for Best of Fringe
Produced Six Stories (again!) for an independent showcase
Started plotting out Coxwood History Fun Park—Season Two
Officially tendered my resignation after eight (!) years at the museum (I’ll have many thoughts about that later)
Landed a new dayjob
But that doesn’t capture the most important work I did this year.
I went back to therapy to actually get a handle on my social anxiety. I spent a lot of time discovering what actually makes me happy, rather than the things I “should” be pursuing. I took a good hard look at how I relate to people.
And I’m…getting somewhere. Slowly, but surely. I feel like this is work that has to happen now, so I have a foundation for the future.
Anyway. That was my 2018!
What I’m Listening To This Week
Honestly, I keep bouncing back and forth between Handel’s Messiah and Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. We’ve had “This Little Babe” on the blog before, but it’s my favourite part of Ceremony. I love how the relentless, martial phrases mimics the imagery in the text…plus, it’s ridiculously fun to sing!
I think calmer seas might be on the horizon?
First things first: I sold a story! “The Song of the Oliphant” will appear in Lackington’s “Magics” issue later this autumn. This was one of this year’s retreat pieces, thus continuing the trend of selling at least one story from every retreat. And I’m glad. It’s a bizarre near-future fantasy piece with a narrator I love and an aching quality I’m pleased with.
In other news, this post is late because…I hit my deadline for Choice of Games! The game is pretty well done, pending copyedits and a few more nips and tucks. But the bulk of the work is off my plate—and I’m exhausted.
You see, for various reasons, I landed myself in the position of needing to write 35,000-40,000 words in under two weeks. Whilst doing my dayjob and preparing for the move, and everything else. I’ll admit that when I first heard the number, I wanted to burst into tears.
We just finished Fringe…
I thought I was done…
I’m so tired…
But then I actually did the math. And talked to my editor, who brilliantly broke down a daunting task into totally manageable steps.
37,000 words in just under two weeks is about 2800 words/day. On realizing that, I calmed down. You see, I know my limits when writing. It’s taken a LOT of trial and error over the years, but I’ve built up a pretty good self-knowledge of what I can reasonably accomplish in a given time frame.
When I’m writing novels, 2000 words/day is a comfortable pace. Enough to get into the flow, but also easy to fit around other projects.
3000 words/day kicks it up a notch. Think of it like a brisk trot. Still doable, just a bit more effort.
4000-5000 words/day is my pounding pace. This is the most I can reasonably expect to write without risking burnout. And even then, I can’t do it for long—three or four weeks, tops.
Interestingly, at my annual retreat I usually write a story/day, which can be anywhere from 3000-6000 words. And while I’m tired on leaving the retreat, I’m not exhausted. I put that down to the intense creative atmosphere, but that’s another post.
And that’s a lot of numbers I just put down. So what?
So it’s like I’ve learned to hack myself. Like an athlete who knows how much weight they can safely lift, I’ve fumbled towards an understanding of what I can do. It helps with planning. It helps with scheduling. It helps me maximize the time I have—especially since I know when a pace is not sustainable long term.
But how do you figure it out? Everyone’s pace and process is so different, after all.
Practice, is all I’ve got. Trial and error. Every experience becomes a data point in a set that expands with every project. As with most things, play around enough, and you start figuring things out.
But I’m awfully glad to move past drafting. August is going to be all about editing the Beer Magic novel. I miss my ladies, and I’m excited to get back to them! (Particularly as I’ll be living quite close to the ravines, which play such a big part in the magic…)
What I’m Listening to this Week
A change of pace indeed…but I fell in love with this song so hard. It makes me ache and it makes me happy all at once. But then, it’s Peter Pan—of course I feel that way.