So, I’ll be honest. This year was TOUGH. So many days I couldn’t quite find the inner balance to write, or to continue with whatever I’d started the day before. Ah, the joys of existential dread and anxiety because of current events!
It’s the opposite of the gift that keeps on giving — it’s the curse that keeps on cursing.
Kept me cursing, too.
Ultimately, 2017 will go down in history as the year I wrote the least since I really made the effort to write on a consistent basis in 2013. I did write more in 2017 than I did in the years before 2013, and by a good margin, but still. Worst output in 5 years. Bah.
Every writing year has been given an epithet so I can quickly remember what was going on in each given year. They go something like this:
2012 = The Time Before Discipline
2013 = All Things Gundam
2014 = Year of the Sentinel Quest
2015 = Survival and Max
2016 = Sound of Dragons
The first few were meant literally, as in 2013 when I wrote SO MUCH Gundam fic, or 2014 where I wrote 4 Sentinel/JQ novels. 2015’s was a little different, in that it was a year I was dealing with a pretty serious cycle of depression, and so I wrote whatever it was that helped me cope, including wacky crossovers and goofy oneshots. 2016 is my own private joke, because I spent 8 months of the year writing The Death-Knell of Silence series (thus the “Sound”) and then the original novel about dragons I still want to query before January. But TMNT connects to dragons, too, and the one really fed me for the other, so it worked out.
The epithet for 2017 is: Battling the Darkness
Because I did fight back against anxiety and worry and stress and distraction, and, in the end, I made my minimum goal — I have a chapter to post for every week in 2018 that I intend to post (I take a few off for holidays and times I know I’ll be busy). That’s the part that matters.
Even if the numbers themselves strike me as being comparatively shabby:
You can tell where and when I got stuck — I was able to bang out the oneshots in about a day for the most part, but the longer works were far slower. That’s about what I expect when I’m having a difficult time. Oneshots and short stories typically come more easily than longer works.
In addition to this, I also started 7 different works, 3 novels, 4 short stories, and stalled out on them before the end of the year. Those 7 works currently total 42,002 words, which would have brought my 2017 number up to 227,835 words. But I don’t like counting the incomplete stuff. Anybody can write half a story, or the first words of a story. It doesn’t count as an accomplishment until the end is accomplished.
However, I get to celebrate a different accomplishment tonight.
With the chapter that goes live tonight, the first of Act 8 of TDKOS, I will be publishing my 2 MILLIONTH word of fanfiction!
I’m using AO3 for the word-counts because it is a little bit more reliable than ff.net, and it only counts for the stuff that is up on the site, not stuff I’ve written but isn’t live yet. But, still.
TWO MILLION WORDS.
The funny thing is that my very first published word of fanfic was “my” and my first millionth word was “footsteps.” My second millionth word is “giving.”
I didn’t even have to make it up or manipulate anything. It just happened that way.
My. Footsteps. Giving.
Nothing could be more appropriate. Because writing has given me so much, and, as I talked about two weeks ago, has given something back as well. Writing has kept me sane some days, has provided an outlet for my feelings and experiences, has offered me a way to understand myself and my world. Writing has also put stories out onto the internet and into the hands of friends, new friends and old friends, and has brought them joy and laughter, no matter how dark the day.
My first story’s first chapter was published to ff.net on August 12th, 2004. It took me three years to finish and post that 12-chapter story, my first ever novel. Back then, I was not even half the writer I am now, and I had literally no idea where writing would take me, how it would save me, what it would mean for me.
It has truly been a long, strange journey to two million words later. Plus 14 unposted fics which will go up in 2018. Plus two original novels and four short stories, one of which won me an award.
And still I stand here thinking I’m only at the beginning. And so I am.
This quote, part of it, lives at the top of my profile on ff.net. It’s by Madeline L’Engle, a writer who probably changed me for life as profoundly as any other I’ve ever read. And this is writing, as true as I understand it standing here where I am today:
My husband is my most ruthless critic. … Sometimes he will say, “It’s been said better before.” Of course. It’s all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anyone else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it in our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.
Good or bad, great or little, I have to write. Create. Be.
I’m already working on three million. I wonder what we’ll find when we get there.