Farewell, 2016. Seldom has a year been so up and down. Let’s start with the ups, because I’m a glass-three-quarters full kind of person. And I’m a writer, so this post is mainly about writing.
2016 was the second year I focused on writing longer fiction. Novels. It still feels like a big scary jump for this little black duck who spent the first fifteen years of her writing career writing short stories.
But, short stories don’t sell too well anymore, which is a shame. I hear it in a lot of places–not just erotica and romance markets. So, move with the times, Cheyenne. Certainly, there seem to be fewer anthology calls, and my three mini-anthology collections of my erotic short lesbian fiction languish down the bottom of the Amazon pile, selling a few copies every so often. (Curious? Do check them out, if tempted. Blue Woman Stories Volumes 1, 2 and 3 contain some of the stories I’m most proud of. All erotic, but all romantic too).
In 2016, I wrote two novels (Fenced-In-Felix and a second one which I only sent to my publisher, Ylva Publishing, yesterday). I also had two full length novels published: Not-So-Straight Sue and Felix. I had a short story, Bunya Bunya, included in Andi Marquette and R.G. Emanuelle’s anthology “Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance and Erotica “which is an awesome anthology and well worth checking out. I also have a story in that grand old dame of lesbian anthologies: best lesbian erotica, in its reincarnation as “Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year: 20th Anniversary Edition” under the capable hands of Sacchi Green. I started my story The Road to Hell about seven years ago, but couldn’t figure out how to finish it. It’s a story about infidelity, and none of the possible endings felt right. It wasn’t until I brought it back out with a view for finishing it for Sacchi’s anthology, that it came together.
And I love writing longer. I do. 2016 was the year I learned the joy of sitting with the same characters for months, not hours, and immersing myself in their lives. As the three books of my “Girl Meets Girl” series contain overlapping characters, and main characters from one book play a supporting role in the next, I’ve lived with Nora, Sue, and Felix (and of course Ger, Moni, and Josie) for a couple of years now. I’ll miss them. But it’s time to focus on Freya and Lily (in the novel sent off only the other day) and the two as yet unnamed women for the story in my head.
That’s it. Not much for a whole year of writing, is it?
I think it is. Those two novels plus the short story total approximately 150K of finished words (plus approximately 10K culled from first drafts and jottings that went nowhere). That’s a spit in the ocean for some writers, but it’s a lot for me.
I have a day job, one that I enjoy, and right now, giving it up is not an option. And I don’t want to just yet. But those 38 hours (plus) each week at work, plus a 50 minute each way commute from my rural home to the coastal strip, well… that’s a lot of time.
Writing wise, what I take away from 2016 is this:
I can write two novels in a year, plus the revisions and editing changes (and blurbs, decisions and minutiae of the pre-publication process) reasonably comfortably. Included in that year are also a few editing projects, most notably for my friend, Harper Bliss. More than two major writing projects a year ain’t gonna happen, not while I have a day job, not if I want to spend time with my partner, travel, cook, exercise, make cheese, camp, read, and just enjoy sitting on the deck with a glass of wine watching the sunset. That’s the sunset from my deck above, and it’s the second best time of day. The best would be watching the dawn from the same deck with a coffee.
I also think I’m very lucky to work with the publishers I do: Ylva Publishing (who publish my novels) and Ladylit Publishing (who publish my anthologies and single-author collections) are both wonderful to deal with. The women who run them are dedicated, knowledgeable, hardworking, funny, just so downright nice, and all genuinely want to make a book as good as it can possibly be. I value them greatly.
I also take from 2016 that I should not measure myself against others when it comes to writing. What one person loves, another will hate. I’ve read books by other lesfic authors that I’ve adored–but why aren’t they selling well? I’ve read books that I thought were utter crap–but they’re flying onto Kindles everywhere (and the other way around too). These extremes are not a yardstick I have to adopt. I take that I write what I write, and that I keep on writing. Keep on writing, that’s what I mainly take from 2016.
2016 has also consolidated that I need to outline my novels (but not short stories), write a first draft as quick as I can so that I don’t go off the boil, and then allow twice as much time as I think I will need to polish that hideous first draft. FWIW, I enjoy the polishing process a lot.
2016 was also the year that I finally, finally, made it on to Facebook. I’m not sure what I think of that, as yet. I’m still poking around trying to get the hang of it, and the etiquette of it all.
2016 also reinforced that I really am not comfortable with self-promotion. Even this blogpost feels self-indulgent. The thought of an author reading fills me with terror. I’m the sort of person who receives a compliment and who looks behind to see whom it’s really aimed at.
Stepping away from writing, 2016 has been so good in many ways. I continue to live in a rural area of Queensland, that I love. I’m happy in my day job, happy with the quiet times and recharge moments of rural living, and the good friends I have. I’ve perfected my Nepalese Goat Curry recipe, and going wheat free has given major health benefits. I love that we grow a lot of what we eat, and I love too that we can source a lot more from the small producers and farm doors in our local community.
2016 has been a heartbreaking year for politics in two of my citizenship countries. I still can’t talk about the US without getting a sick, dark feeling inside, and while Australia isn’t nearly as bad, there’s a groundswell of similar feeling that disturbs me terribly.
But here’s to 2017.
I plan to write two more novels in 2017. It would be good to have two more published in 2017 as well, but there are pesky things such as acceptance and publishing schedules to consider. 😉
2017 will also be the year I finally get a mailing list, with FREE stuff. That’s only taken me forever, just like Facebook. And also, 2017 will hopefully be the year that I finally compile all my short romantic lesbian fiction into a couple of volumes and indie publish it. Maybe.
Here’s to 2017, and a year of writing, and general enjoyment of life.