Lang may yer lum reek.
tr. (lit): long may your chimney smoke
meaning: may you always be well off enough to keep a fire burning in your hearth.
Happy New Year to you all! Another year rolls around and another one passes us by. 2018 has been an incredibly hard year in many ways but it has been a good year for writing. Looking back, I was surprised at how productive it has been. With less stress than in 2017, and more spare time, I’ve been writing a lot more. Some of the best of it will never see the light of day, or if it does, it will be anonymous.
LOOKING BACK ON 2018
I have a few posts up my sleeve for the coming year. They’ll need a little tidying up before they’re published but I’m confident that you’ll enjoy them. I’ve been guest posting here and there this year, which has been lovely. If you are a blogger I recommend you spend a little time this year getting to know a few others in the blogging community. All it takes is to comment on the occasional post saying how you appreciated it or how it made you think – it takes less than thirty seconds and leads to unexpected friendships.
One of the big steps I have taken this year is creating this author website (and blog). Though I have been blogging for five years (January 3 is my fifth anniversary!), it was purely for enjoyment, an outlet for my writing. I had been trying to write books for as long as I can remember but I finally finished a first draft in September 2017 and joined a writing program for the first time in January 2018. Previously, I had only written alone but this new community of writers and the wonderful teaching and mentoring that came along with it have helped me grow over the last year or so. All I knew was writing, I had no concept of things like platforming and hated editing with every fibre of my being. One of the things that the program encouraged was platform building and for a long time, I brushed it off as ‘one of those self-promo-y American things’.
After watching others over the course of five or six months, I could see how having a website (and potentially a blog or social media) would be helpful to a writer so I purchased a domain, cobbled together a site, and here we are.
I also have an Instagram account (@jessie.bingham) where I post snippets of my writing and brief updates about what I’m up to that are too short for a blog post. I chose Instagram because I’m a visual person and it’s the least frustrating of the platforms. This is one of the things I hope to talk about more in depth during the year.
In the realm of ‘writing proper’, as I like to think of it, I began a new novel back in May with no prior planning because I’m a pantser and that’s what I do. I have been working on it consistently but there hasn’t been as much progress as I’d like. I’m afraid prefer not to tell people what I’m working on while I’m working on it so there is no page for it in the WIPs section of my website. Updates will appear here and there though. I write my novels by hand though, so it does take time.
I finally decided to do NaNoWriMo for the first time this year too (it’s been a year of firsts). It was a bit of a last-minute decision and I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it because I work full-time and have other commitments. I knew November would be a busy month and didn’t care for the pressure so I kept it quiet. Despite numerous (not unwelcome) interruptions, and ending on the 24th to spend time with family and rest for a few days, I reached 40,000 words. This means that The Legend of Dreich is two-thirds done and it won’t take too much to finish.
More recently, I picked up Aurelius, having not touched it since the end of 2017. I particularly dislike editing (especially my own work) but I’ve grown so much over the past year that it was much easier to see what needed to be fixed and how to go about it. The distance has made the editing far more enjoyable. I’m about a fifth through the redraft but there’s much to be changed and added and it will take several more passes before I open up for beta readers. Stay tuned though! So if that was 2018, what about the coming year?
I’m not one to make New Year Resolutions but there are several things I would like to achieve over the next twelve months.
The first is finishing draft 2-ish of Aurelius. This shouldn’t be too hard. I know what I need to do, the battle will mostly centre around motivation. Schedules and timetables have never worked for me but as I get older, I’m learning the importance of the habit of consistency, it’s one of the things I’ve been working on this year and will continue to fight to create the habit going forward.
The second thing I would like to achieve is to finish the first draft of The Legend of Dreich. Admittedly, it’s a pet project. I pick it up and put it down as I feel like it because it’s quite a personal project. But with 40k of it down already, there’s no real excuse for not knocking out another 20k this year. It’s very little over 1500 words a month.
Lastly in the writing realm, I’d like to get another 70k of my ‘secret’ novel written. Though this sounds ambitious to some, it’s not even 200 words a day and it would bring the word count up to 90k — almost finished. I hope that with time, I get much faster at writing books. Aurelius took me four years (I think) because I was studying a time-intensive degree at the same time, fell ill, and dealt with various family crises during that period. This time, I’d like to finish in two years (tops) and gradually get faster.
This year I haven’t read as much as I would have liked, as you may have surmised from the lack of reviews. I discovered audio books this year. I always knew they existed of course, but I’ve learned to appreciate them more and listen to them at work when I’m doing jobs that require a little less brain power.
So far, I have enjoyed a re-reading of Mortal Engines in March, most of the Jeeves and Wooster series during the summer, and several Poirot books over the winter. If you have any suggestions for the year ahead, do share!
For someone who prefers paper, I’ve also been reading via the kindle app on my phone. There are a good number of classics for free on Amazon and I’ve picked up a few books at a discount. One of those was the Father Christmas Confessions which I reviewed last month. Others have been debuts or recommendations from friends. On the whole, they haven’t been top quality.
One of them was decent apart from one glaring plot hole you could have flown a Boeing through. I’ve made an agreement with myself that I only review books I like here and won’t name books I don’t care for (apart from the occasional quip about Twilight and Elsie Dinsmore). There were no books this year so bad that I didn’t finish them but I have resolved to be more discriminating in my reading.
In the realm of paper books, I read the entire Mistborn trilogy this year (I hear there are more) which was no small feat. Brandon Sanderson doesn’t appear to write books below 400k words. I may review them at some point but I haven’t decided how I feel about them yet.
Other books included a couple of re-readings of old favourites, like The Phantom Tollbooth and Gatty’s Tale, and some authors I’d never tried before, Sanderson being one of them, Genevieve Cogman (The Invisible Library) and Marie Brennan (A Natural History of Dragons) being a couple of others. I don’t think I’ve read any Morpurgo or Dahl this year, which is a bit of a disappointment.
In 2019, rather than aiming to read more, I am aiming to read better. I’m going to be beta reading more selectively, reading more paper books, and being far more picky about which new or young authors I read. Rather than ploughing through mediocre writing because there’s one character that is vaguely likeable, I’m going to learn to put books down and not finish them. We only have so much time and though there are plenty of books out there that may well be excellently written (classics even!) this year at least, I want to read because I love good stories. Anything that doesn’t interest me will be put aside. I may decide differently next year, but for now, my goal is to read things I enjoy.
In all honesty, this blog has been a little in the vein of trial and error over the past six months. In the coming year, I have made a more focused plan. In theory, each month will have a theme with the posts centring around that theme with a review in the last week of the month. Due to work and other commitments, there will only be one post a week for now, probably on a Tuesday and anything extra will be a pleasant bonus.
In addition to this, I’ve been learning a lot about platforming, as I stated before, and within the next six months, I will be beginning an email list. This email list will also follow the theme of each month but it will include extras, exclusive updates, sneak peaks, give-aways, and other fun bits and pieces I’m still planning out (including a small book award where readers may nominate and vote for the best books). This will take time to set up but I will keep you updated.
I’m sure there was something else I wanted to mention but I can’t for the life of me think what it was so if it comes to me, I’ll be sure to let you know!
- Do you have any particular goals for 2019?
- Have you any recommendations for books or movies for the year?
- What was the best part of 2018 for you?