Happy New Year, friends! 2015 was a pretty crazy year for me. At times I feel like I didn’t do enough, but I have to remind myself that I’ve actually accomplished some important things:
- I graduated from college.
- I worked on three major writing projects (even if I haven’t finished any of them yet).
- I participated in NaNoWriMo for the tenth year in a row, and won for the eighth time.
- I taught my first writing class, and it was so much fun!
- I applied to be a writer-in-residence at the Boston Public Library––and even though I didn’t end up winning, I was one of 12 finalists. (And I’m definitely going to apply again for the 2016-2017 residency. *fingers crossed*)
A Summary of My 2015 Writing Progress:
I Chose The Monster: I’ve been working on the first draft of this novel on-and-off for more than three years now, I think. But in 2015, I really put effort into it, after neglecting it for almost an entire year. I’m now powering through the last few chapters of the first draft, while I’m also taking notes and making plans for my revisions (which I plan to start in 2016).
Words written: 36,171
The Waters and the Wild: I started this project last year for my Div III (senior project) at Hampshire. Even though I didn’t write very much of it this year, it did go through a major facelift. At the end of 2014, I had written over 60,000 words of it and was not happy with it. I felt it was missing an important element. So at the beginning of 2015, as my last semester of college was starting, I decided to start from scratch with a new concept––instead of it being a generic fantasy inspired by Irish mythology, it became a surreal historical fantasy about a girl trying to survive the potato famine, while she simultaneously faces visions of a fantasy world that may or may not be real.
This was the first time I had totally re-started a novel from scratch, but it was absolutely the right decision. While the first draft had felt like something I was forcing out, the new draft felt much closer to what I wanted. (It was also the writing sample that nearly got me the residency at the Boston Public Library!) I really hope to continue my research for it again soon, and to return to my current draft of it by the end of 2016.
Words written: 8,999
The Resurrectionists: My surprise project of the year! Unlike my other two WIPs, The Resurrectionists was an entirely new project. I started thinking about it this past summer, when I had to walk past a graveyard every day on the way to and from work. As NaNoWriMo approached, it transformed from a vague idea about grave-digging to a more complicated story based on real grave robberies in 18th-century London. Although I still have a tremendous amount of background research to do, I really had fun with this story during November. I love the delightfully scary concept of it, especially because part of it is based in fact. But by the end of NaNo, I was also starting to really like the characters and all the dynamics starting to develop between them. It may be a while before I return to it, but I’m excited to see where I can go with it.
Words written: 50,499
I might not have finished any drafts this year, but I do feel I made significant progress with the three projects I worked on. I wrote a total of more than 95,000 words this year, which is great!
What I learned this year in writing:
- It’s okay to start something from scratch if the current draft really isn’t working.
- Detailed outlines can sometimes suck the life out of something for me (which I think is partly what happened with my first draft of The Waters and the Wild). With my first draft of The Resurrectionists, I tried a new tactic where I write a little and then outline a little, and go back and forth between the two. That seemed to work a lot better for me.
- Keeping a writing journal has really helped me to meet my goals, face my writing fears, and track my progress.
- I really like historical fantasy. It’s something I hadn’t really tried before this year, but somehow The Waters and the Wild and The Resurrectionists both became historical fantasies, and I had a lot of fun writing them and researching for them. It’s a new genre to me, but I hope to keep trying it out.
My writing goals for 2016:
- Finish the first draft of I Chose the Monster and start revisions, getting feedback, etc.
- Keep researching for The Waters and the Wild and The Resurrectionists. Possibly start working on my drafts of them again.
- Win NaNoWriMo again!
- Apply for the residency at the Boston Public Library again.
- Keep teaching my writing classes.
- Maybe try to write and/or send out a short story or two.
- Try to publish at least one writing-related post to this blog per week.
As you can see, these are all kinda vague and flexible and some of them are “maybe”s. I do hope to do at least a few of these things in 2016, but I’ll try not to beat myself up if I don’t reach all/any of them––and I’m also open to any surprises that come my way! 😀
How about you guys?
- How’d your year of writing go?
- Do you have any goals for 2016, or are you just going to go with the flow?