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30 December 2011 @ 08:05 am
Looking back, looking forward  
It's been a good year.

In all honesty, I have to admit that I live a life of comfort and ease. I have a fine home and a wonderful wife, I'm retired at the age of 50 with enough money to do fundamentally whatever I want, and my health is excellent. I live in a wonderful town with an active community of writers. I love and I know that I am loved.

Flipping through the 2011 kitchen calendar, I see a lot of plays and movies and museum visits. We continued with yoga and our neighborhood SF book group. There was no overseas travel this year; instead we threw a big party which we called "BentoCon, a science fiction convention and square dance" to celebrate our 50th birthdays and 20th anniversary with about 100 of our friends and relatives. It was a heck of a lot of work but it was awesome. We have most excellent friends.

We did have the usual insane amount of domestic travel, including a week in the Bay Area for Fogcon and Potlatch (with a visit to Hearst Castle in between). I visited Buena Vista University in Iowa, where I spoke to the students of my old Clarion West classmate Inez. I participated in a mock battle of sailing ships. I was privileged to be invited to Walter Jon Williams's Rio Hondo workshop, where I ate many fine meals and critiqued manuscripts with some of the finest writers in the field. I atttended Radcon, Wiscon, the World Fantasy Convention, and OryCon, and square dance events in Atlanta, Phoenix, and Vancouver BC. There were many trips to Seattle to visit with scarlettina and other friends. We took a trip to Eastern Oregon. I taught a crew of brilliant high school students at the Alpha Workshop in Pennsylvania, and was a guest pro at the Cascade Writers workshop on the Washington coast. And at the Worldcon in Reno, I got to present the Best Short Story Hugo to Mary Robinette Kowal.

As far as the writing goes... well, I'm a little disappointed in myself. Despite all the writing workshops I taught and the Hugo I presented and the interview in Locus, the actual writing and publishing didn't go as well as I'd like. It was a year of near-misses, with "Pupa" coming in second in the Analog readers' poll and missing the Hugo ballot by four nominations. I spent the whole year looking for a new agent and failed to snag one, despite getting >this< close with an agent who loved the book except for this one thing and then, after I rewrote it to her specifications, decided she didn't really love it that much after all. I finished the first draft of a hard SF YA novel set on Mars, but reluctantly set it aside (for now) because my agent hunt has shown me that science fiction really isn't selling right now. So I started researching and outlining a YA Regency interplanetary airship adventure that I think will be more marketable (and also a lot of fun). I intend to begin drafting that one on January 1.

With all that novel-related work I didn't do a lot of short story writing and submitting, so I don't have nearly as many new stories, submissions, or sales this year as in some previous years. I did make two pro sales and several reprint and audio sales, and I saw "Trust" published in Daily Science Fiction, "Citizen-Astronaut" in Analog, "The Tides of the Heart" in Realms of Fantasy (which, regrettably, folded shortly thereafter), "The True Story of Merganther's Run" in The End of an Aeon (finally!), and "Into the Nth Dimension" in Human for a Day. I also saw reprints of "Pupa" in Into the New Millennium (Kindle), "Written on the Wind" at Escape Pod (podcast), "A Passion for Art" at StarShipSofa (podcast), "Zauberschrift" at PodCastle (podcast), and "Powers" in Wild Cards I (audio). "Tides of the Heart" got some very favorable reviews, including a Recommended review in Locus.

Short stories are good. Short stories are fun. But I really, really want to succeed as a novelist, because it's clear to me that novels get far more attention in this field than short stories do. So in the coming year I intend to really buckle down and focus on the writing. The only way to succeed in this business is to produce, and I intend to put my butt in my chair and write a lot more next year than I did this year. I resolve to write every day, with a minimum of 1000 words per day on weekdays and 100 words per day on weekends and travel days. That's a stretch -- it's a lot more words per day than I've managed in the past on a consistent basis -- but I'm hoping that this aggressive goal will force me to find new ways of working and new attitudes that will increase my productivity going forward. And if I can really write at that speed or higher, I can finish this novel in less than a year and still write a bunch of short stories.

So that's me. I hope you're enjoying this holiday season and making plans for a great 2012. See you there!

 
 
 
jackwilliambelljackwilliambell on December 30th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
You are joking about the "YA Regency interplanetary airship adventure", right? Right? RIGHT???
David D. Levinedavidlevine on December 30th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
Heck no!
Miche: academic catmicheinnz on January 1st, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
My Weasel girl would read the heck out of it, especially if the lead girl and lead boy don't fall in love.
mcjuliemcjulie on January 3rd, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
Excellent!
joycemochajoycemocha on December 30th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
The paucity of SF sales is one reason why I'm indie publishing my SF series. The short stories sell, but no one's picking up the novels. But hey, it also allows me to experiment with a long term series creation that has a looooong story arc.

I think it's a matter of time for you, and things will come. It's just an odd time in the business.

And YA Regency interplanetary airship adventure. Hmmm. Well, you can definitely get away with it in YA. Look closely at Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell stories...those really seem to reasonate with the kids.
spencimusprimespencimusprime on December 30th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
Go go go!
billeyler: Bill and Dannybilleyler on December 30th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
Again, thanks for letting us be a part of your 2011 life!

Hugs from ABQland.
KMSvgqn on December 30th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
Good luck with the writing goal! Do you have some specific techniques in mind to help make it happen? Schedules, timers, meet ups, priming the pump,...? I still haven't figured out the best techniques for keeping myself as productive as I'd like to be -- not writing fiction, but life in general, which does include a fair amount of non-fiction writing.

I'm totally looking forward to the YA Regency interplanetary airship adventure!