The Shape of 2012 (how it was)December 31st, 2012 at 13:02
It’s been an odd sort of year, and one in which I have tended to forget to stop and count my successes. I planned for many things in my writing career, few of which came to fruition, and I ended up with a bunch of words written, but nothing (major) new and finished, for the first time in several years.
On the other hand, some massive personal achievements surely help to balance that out. In particular I have seen Raeli grow from being very timid and panicky child into a far more relaxed, confident and brave young person. She has conquered her terror (and I don’t use the word lightly) of cats, managed her even more extreme fear of dogs, as well as getting over the hurdles of learning to swim and to turn somersaults. It’s been a big year!
Jem meanwhile has stopped being the baby (she is a BIG GIRL), and it’s quite extraordinary to see our three-year-old become herself, taking on an at times stroppy but quite original personality. (she can be a thug but she’s cute with it) And boy, can she talk. You may all pause your reading to faint from surprise.
They’re really good at being sisters, which makes me very happy. And we’re only a year away from Jem starting school now which feels… exciting and terrible, all at once. But by gods, it’s going to be cheaper. And those tiny windows of writing time are shrinking and shrinking between then and now. Somehow, she manages to fill every available space, which is what children are best at.
What other milestones did I/we manage to clear this year? Well, there’s that little thing of Galactic Suburbia getting its first Hugo nomination, which was extraordinary, and means that we will always look upon the Best Fancast category with great fondness. Galactic Suburbia also received the Peter McNamara Convenor’s Award for Excellence at the Aurealis Awards this year which was an amazing honour and really made us feel like we have made a mark in the Australian SF community. And of course we produced 23 new episodes, bringing us up to 73. We’ll be soooo close to 100 by the end of next year!
It was like a million years ago, but I did have a novel out this year, Reign of Beasts, the final volume of my Creature Court trilogy. FINISHED TRILOGY, PEOPLE! There are many of you who have been around me since the early days and know or can guess how much it means to me to have the third book of a trilogy out. You can’t take these things for granted! It also helps that so many readers let me know that while they didn’t necessarily approve of everything that happened in the last book, it was a satisfying finish. I am so relieved! I was extremely proud of this book, but it takes readers to let you know that you’ve made a mark.
2012 also brought in a few reapable rewards from the previous year’s work, especially “The Patrician,” my most popular story from the Love and Romanpunk collection (which BTW has both sold out in print copy and EARNED OUT my advance, the first book that has ever done both for me). “The Patrician won the Ditmar for Best Novelette/Novella, and then startled me by also running away with the Washington SF Association Small Press Award against an incredibly strong ballot. It was reprinted in the Australian Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and is about to be reprinted again in Apex Magazine. People kinda liked it!
But, sigh. The reason to keep reminding myself of all those good things is because I fell down on a lot of my plans and goals for this year, writingwise. I didn’t finish anything that I expected I would, and while my ‘write across multiple projects’ loose structure for the year allowed me to try a lot of exciting new projects and respond quickly to various opportunities, I ended up with a bunch of part-written projects, and nothing solid or substantial to show for the year.
The other big negative is that I haven’t sold my Nancy Napoleon urban fantasy novel, the work so promising that it attracted two major grants (and will substantially be funding next year’s trip to Brighton WFC). The part that makes me sad is not that the book hasn’t found a home (though, sigh!) it’s that I know that I didn’t try nearly hard enough. I allowed myself to get demoralised far too early, I failed to follow up efficiently on queries in order to turn it around faster, and I lost heart in a way that makes me deeply annoyed at myself. It’s a good book. It will, I hope, get published, though maybe not this time around. I am determined that I will at least make a good enough show at trying all the options before I give up on it, though. And I’m well aware that my heel-dragging and knock backs for this project may be a big part of the reason I lacked incentive to focus on and finish a big novel this year.
ENOUGH WALLOWING, TANSY, YOU’RE DOING FINE!
I’m still thinking over my plans for next year’s writing. They probably belong in a different post. The important thing is that I learn from what I didn’t get right this year, and don’t repeat the same mistakes. I used to be so hardened to rejection and setbacks, and somewhere along the line I went all soft and squishy. THIS IS NOT HELPFUL IN OUR INDUSTRY.
I did much better when it came to my reading goals – the To Read Shelf is not a LOT diminished, but I managed to whittle down some of the more teetering piles, and it certainly didn’t grow in 2012. My system of reading three books (2 of which had to be FROM THE SHELF) before I was allowed to buy one worked very well in making me stop and think before I ordered or bought new books and particularly helped me to curtail my online purchases, which had got massively out of hand.
It still wasn’t a perfect system, though, and I developed my own coda to it throughout the year as I realised that one of my other reading priorities was to read the books I bought while they were still recent and current purchases (and while I still retained the original excitement around them), and started keeping close track of that. I’m proud to say that of the 30 books I bought this year (yes, I read 175 books and bought 30, though worth noting the former number includes audio books and graphic novels while the latter doesn’t) I have read 25 of them, which feels like a massive achievement.
The not including graphic novels part was a massive indulgence based on the premise that I was reading those like gangbusters and didn’t have to give myself incentive to do so – and indeed this was the year that I managed to stockpile far too many graphic novels that I haven’t got around to reading. So next year I will count those too, as books bought AND books read. I’m also going to include books I have solicited but not technically paid for (review or blurb copies I agree to receive, birthday/Christmas presents I SUGGEST people get for me) because again that was a cop-out. I still won’t be including e-books, because it’s the SPACE rather than money I’m trying to save here, but if I end up with a Kindle full of books I’ll never read, I may change that.
The reason I am continuing with a ridiculously rule-heavy reading/book purchasing system is because I think I have to do this for at least three years before I have properly trained my brain to recognise the number of books I can technically read, rather than buying and hoarding books for someone else’s lifestyle, which is what I have been doing since I had kids. I really appreciate the fact that I now stop and think several times before committing to a book – am I going to read it this month? Can it wait?
Sustainable is the key, and even though it bugs me at times to not buy that book RIGHT NOW, it feels good to have read 5/6 of my book purchases this year, and I’d love to be able to top that statistic next year. It’s all about the statistics.
It’s been a good year. It would be crazy to not count it as a good year. The family all stayed pretty healthy, my honey and the girls make me proud all the time, I have made forward progress on my writing despite my ridiculously high standards, I earned a little (very little) money, I won some stuff, my average blog stats have more than doubled (waves to blog readers) and I wrote many things that I am proud of. I even got to be a real professionally paid Doctor Who critic. I got to go to some conventions and spent some serious in person face time with so many of my closest friends that are normally so far away. Particularly glad that Alex, Alisa and I got to hang out together at the AA’s, and that Helen agreed to be my room buddy at Genrecon. Oh, and that Tehani MOVED TO TASMANIA, of course, which is one of my favourite things that happened this year.
Also, the Doctor Who Christmas special rocked, and Amy Pond didn’t die young.
If I have half as good a year in 2013, I’ll be doing OK.
Thanks for reading my blog. Comments make me happy, but stats are forever, and it’s been stunning to see how much the numbers have risen this year. Readers are awesome, and that means you.
31 December 2012