2018 reflections

I started book two of the Inline series (still a working title). I redid the whole thing because of some advice on outlining that caused me kind of ‘writing paralysis’. I couldn’t follow the outline or the world building and it felt like I was doubling my effort, because I had little actual writing done and I couldn’t be in my main character’s head anymore.

I re-thought the dystopian series in terms of avoiding the all-black-all-white foundation of most dystopias. Yes, the series starts in a very dystopian place, the Labyrinth, in a system that aims to create a one-dimensional workforce, but then with this second book, I want to make that world more ‘real’ than ‘dystopian’, where it has its good sides and bad ones, just like the world we live in today.

I changed my writing habits to be more flexible. So when it’s time to write, I work on the ongoing project in hand, but if it’s hard, for whatever reason, to find the good writing flow for that project, I would simply switch to another project and write on.

So now, when it’s time to write fiction, I write, regardless of which project has the priority. I know it’s not ideal but it works for me.

I don’t count my words. I used to do that in a spreadsheet. But found it distracting. It made me feel like I was racing against myself. For the time being, I prefer to focus on keeping the writing habit, in particular, during the busiest times of the year.

That wasn’t easy though…

I didn’t write as much as I hoped, not only because I didn’t have the time, but also because I had doubts about the reception of my stories. The doubts that cross the minds of all writers, even someone as Marcel Proust had such doubts at the apogee of his career, that is not to say that I am a great writer, but…

I asked myself, quite recently, why do I write? The simple answer was because I have stories to tell and I love writing.

I asked myself a second question, do I want others to read what I write?

The answer was not simple because, yes, I certainly want people to read my stories but it’s scary. You’re putting yourself out there. And it’s also scary because what I would write next will be affected by the kind of reception my previous writings have had received.

It’s something I have to deal with. I have to develop a professional writer’s mentality, which is unlike someone writing as a hobby or self-expression. That is part of my plans for 2019.

I finally came to the conclusion that yes, I want to leave a legacy of books and I hope people will find them useful or entertaining. But what if this doesn’t happen the way I see it, I will continue writing.

Some of what I write will remain private, but I primarily write for the public.

In 2018, I practically stopped my critiquing activities. I used the time slots for writing, which was good. I had learned a lot through critiquing, but I decided in 2018 that it was time to stop.

I found out that when you keep a project for a long time, the whole plot changes in your mind and other newer plots interfere with the old one. So one of my 2019 resolutions is to finish as many open projects as I can.

I learned the hard way that perfection should be taken with moderation. Writing the perfect story is a myth. But writing good stories is possible, and I am aiming now for what is possible.

I attended a few writer events, which was most enjoyable. I love reading events because I love seeing the author and the book together. Even if I’m not familiar with the book, it’s a good thing to listen to the author talking about his/her book and getting to know that link between the writer and the text.

In one of the events, the writer was a big name. She was answering the audience’s questions. It was informative on the local writing scene. At that event, I realized that I was tired from introducing myself as an ‘unpublished’ writer. I didn’t mention the one short story that had been published in an anthology, because, frankly, although it was an achievement on its own, it didn’t advance my writing career much.

There was a majority of female writers in that event. The guest writer talked about traditional publishing and, although she insisted that it was the only way to put our books to the world, I learned a lot from her and the audience’s engagement as well.

I finally got to organize my Stories folder. I’m pretty much happy with the result. But I’m still hesitant to delete the many backup files that I have in store.

I started this blog, hesitantly, I admit. I am not doing much about the layout and visuals just yet, simply because I want to be consistent with the content creation first then go ahead and improve the visuals. It’s how I compartmentalize my tasks.

2018, in general, was a year of demystification. I stopped following writing advice that didn’t work for me. It’s helpful to learn from other writers and see what works and what doesn’t but unless you have a first-hand experience, your knowledge will remain abstract. It’s also helpful to know what’s going on in the fast changing publishing world, both traditional and independent.

I was sorry to see the end of Createspace. I thought Amazon was going to just change the name but it is not the same as it used to be. Kindle direct publishing has made some changes too. Some of which are in favor of authorship, such as the little Word add-on that you can use to format your book for Kindle but the print on demand is not as optimal as it used to be in the Createspace era. So at this point, where I’m saying farewell to 2018, I thank it for the wisdom it brought me and hope that 2019 will be for me the year of the writer.

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