2020 in Writing

As most people are, I am harder on myself than is necessary. It’s probably what people do to drive themselves to work harder. If I’m disappointed in a little progress, perhaps I’ll push myself toward larger progress.

When it comes to my writing career, I tend to aim for the a goal and then land about a hundred yards short. This isn’t some big revelation, so much as it makes me think I’m just a normal guy. To put this into perspective, my usual annual goal is to write two novels. I tend to fall short, by at least one, and probably average out at 1.5 novels. Starting about 2 years ago, I started doing more anthology series, and that really throws off the “goal” because I start accusing myself of cheating. I ask myself if that even counts as one of my “novels.”

I decided to combat that type of negative thinking two ways. The first was to say yes, that counts. Why wouldn’t it? The goal of two novels really means two sellable products sent off to my Publisher. Stop beating yourself up, Davenport, you were successful this year!

The second way is to look at word count. This way makes me a little happier in that it feels more honest and still succeeds. My average novel length is around 55k. That makes my annual goal around 110,000 words. With my short stories and whatever novel was this year’s big push, that means I’m usually over my goal novel length for the year. While the previous way sounds like success, this thought-process actually feels like success.

Other things to remember (for you as well as me):

  • 1.5 books a year is still great. A lot of people only ever put out one book or less per year. If you’re George R. R. Martin you put out even less than that. (And he’s got a tv show!)
  • You set your own pace and any measure of success is pretty darn good!
  • While number of novels published (or short stories) is a fun metric, it’s not an accurate for how much writing you have done this year. On a personal note, I spend a lot of my time starting new projects, world building, writing fan-fictions, reading and writing reviews, and collaborating with other authors on ideas. If I publish two novels, it still doesn’t illustrate how much other effort went into the year.
  • It was 2020, you might have been stuck at home for a lot of it but that doesn’t mean you were writing. You still have a day job!
  • A personal one: I’ve successfully (as of this writing) have written and/or published 10 novels and 6 anthologies. That’s pretty cool.

So, under the “don’t give yourself such a hard time” idea, here’s this year’s accomplishments.

  1. Time Troopers, by myself, David Hambling, Byron Craft, and John DeLaughter. – This one was a mythos anthology with each of the stories connected by Art, a time traveling individual fighting one of the great Time Wars against the evils of the universe. While Art wasn’t the main character, him and the time travel mechanism were an integral part of each story, connecting this vast universe of time lines and alternate futures.
  2. Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares by me. The third complete novel in the Andrew Doran series and long overdue. In this story, Andrew and Nancy discover the the coveted original manuscript of the Book of Eibon is actually a scroll held in place between universes. By moving it to Arkham and the Miskatonic University, they release an ancient Demi-God who plunges them into horrific scenarios from the recesses of their own minds. This story was a two year effort in world-building, as I wanted to do something a little less survivable for our adventurer. It originally started as an entirely different story, Andrew Doran and the Tomb of the Pharaoh. In that story, I was going to have Andrew accidentally ferried to ancient Egypt to locate the original Tomb of Ulthar. The story was going to be divided between then and “now” with Nancy trying to follow clues that Andrew left throughout time to help her bring him home. That one might still happen, but because of Scroll of Nightmares, it definitely is going to need some draft revisions. Besides, as I already mentioned in #1, I’ve already done a time travel story this year.
  3. The Book of Yig: Revelations of the Serpent, by Me, Mark Howard Jones, Peter Rawlik, and David Hambling. This book is completed and in pre-order status on Amazon. It comes out in April and follows a similar formula as my other Mythos related anthologies. Four stories all tied together by a common plot device. In this one, the Children of Yig are eternal, and are taking generations to attempt a coup over mankind. My story, Andrew Doran and the Journey to the Serpent Temple is in this one.
  4. Tales of Yog-Sothoth, by C.T. Phipps, David Niall Wilson, David Hambling, David J. West, and myself, the same team that brought you the Tales of the Al-Azif. This is obviously the mythos sequel to Tales of the Al-Azif, following the same formula and characters as we tackle the entity called Yog-Sothoth. Being a beast of time and space, we have a lot of fun crossover stuff in this one. Also, a bunch of parallel worlds, time travel, and mythos aliens! Andrew Doran and the Forever Gate is in this one.
  5. Not finished, but honorable mention, Satan’s Salesman 2: The Devil is in the Details, had a lot of work done this year as well. Thanks to some motivational plot work from C.T. Phipps and my need for NaNoWriMo fodder, I was able to add about 25k words to it before the year ended and got work started on the cover art with Putnam Finch.

Three Anthologies, one novel, and half of a novel brings this year’s word count to: about 135,000 words this year, not counting the first chapter of my upcoming weird western, The Esoteric Cavalry, or any of my fan-fics or book reviews. I’m calling it a successful 2020!

Upcoming projects that are at least started, include: The Esoteric Cavalry, Satan’s Salesman 2, Broken Nights 3, Coven Spinoff Novel, and a still-in-talks anthology. Esoteric Cavalry, Coven Spinoff, and Broken Nights 3 each have less than 10k written. Satan’s Salesman 2 is almost done. 2021 could easily have 3 novels published if I focus and don’t let myself get distracted…

But hey, even if I do get distracted, that’s ok. We’re all human. Do the best you can. After the 2020 we all went through, as long as you can say you did the best you could with what you had, that’s all you can ask for.

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