2016 Retrospective

I’m going to say it: 2016 Was a good year.

Sure celebrities died, and the UK left the EU and everything else happened (something about an election?); but the world is still spinning, there are more tigers in the world, and we’ll survive the next 4-8 years. I promise.

Plus all those celebrities that swore they would move to Canada didn’t. Is America really all that bad if a bunch of wealthy windbags decided not to move?

Speaking of Tigers:

I have my first book up for sale! A Moonlit Task will be released Feb 7th, 2017. Right now I only have the ebook available, but I’m working on getting the paperback prepared as well. If you are inclined, please sign up for my newsletter so I can remind you when the book goes live. I also have a YouTube gaming channel I started in February of 2016. Check it out if you like Let’s Plays.

So, back to 2016: why was it a great year for me? For that I should go back to the beginning of 2016 and see how I fared:

As 2015 showed up in the rearview mirror, I had three primary goals: publish three books. “But Tom,” you say, “you didn’t even get one published in 2016.”

I know, I know. But I did put one up for pre-order. Book 2 is off with Alpha readers now, and Book 3 is well, it’s going to need a lot of work based on all the changes I’ve done to 1 and 2.

But the important thing is I kept working at it. For the first time, I took a book from dreaming, to drafting, to editing, to polishing, copy editing, cover design, and uploaded the thing to Amazon. I also started a YouTube Gaming Channel and managed to post daily content every single day since I launched. I have 2600 subscribers now, but I digress. I’ll have a separate blog post about my gaming channel.

That’s a colossal accomplishment for someone who’s been “wanting to be a writer” for five years now.

2016 was the year I started getting serious about being a writer.

2016 was the first year that I actually took a book through a full edit.

You know how your first couple books are going to be crap? That when you decided you want to be a writer, you’re supposed to sit down and just write? Well, I had that down pat pretty well.

At the beginning of 2016, I’d already written five books. All of them but A Moonlit Task was a trunk novel, meaning I’d written it, realized it sucked, then put it away for all time and eternity, then moved on to the next.

That’s good, right? Yes, it is! I learned early on in my writing career that it’s important to realize that your first book will just utterly suck. And it did. My second one was better, but not by much, but it still won’t see the light of day without serious work. Book three, four? All horrible. But book five. Oh, now that one I’d finally improved my craft to the point where I thought “with a lot of editing, this is theoretically publishable.”

So this all sounds good, right? Well, not really. The key thing I failed to do was take each book through the complete process. Write, Edit, Polish, Publish. I only did step one for four books. A Moonlit Task is the first book I edited and will say this in bold for anyone just scrolling through my meandering blog post.

You learn how to write by editing.

Seriously.

I improved through my drafting, but I didn’t really start to “get” what I was doing wrong until I joined a critique group. They were able to show me the things that I was blind to. That’s when I started improving.

I wasn’t able to understand a book’s story structure until I critiqued my first book, finally realizing just how bad I was.

That, of course, leaves me wondering how much better would I have been if I had started with Trunk Novel # 1 and did the entire process all the way through (stopping just before I published it).

To be honest, I’d probably be published by now. But no ragrets, right?

So my advice and the biggest life lesson I learned in 2016, was to see every writing project through to completion. Concept, Draft, Edit, Polish. Then put it away, and re-read it after you’ve started working on your next work. Does it suck? If it’s the first thing you ever wrote, yeah, it probably sucks. But you’re a better writer because of it now, so move to the next thing and leave this one behind.

Also, work your ass off. You’ll be glad you did a year later. I know I am.

-Tom

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