How I spent 2012

So: 2012 happened. The holidays were a blur and then the two of us were down and out with a cold and/or flu, so I didn’t have much time to write the obligatory Best Books of 2012 post, or even the obligatory Resolutions post. Truth this, I hate that stuff. Which is why I haven’t done it. 

Last year I compiled a list of things I did in 2011 that were somehow noteworthy. And while I was sick, I combed through my calendar and notebooks to see what I actually achieved in 2012. It’s a lot, but it’s still somehow disappointing, which I’ll explain shortly. I’m trying to keep this post short so I’ll just hit the highlights.

WORD COUNT: Near as I can figure, I cranked out 258,111 words on writing I hoped to sell as a book or e-book. This figure does not include journalistic work, which only amounted to about 2,000 words. Of the 258K figure, 80,000 represents a ghostwritten project that I wrote for someone else. (During a marathon writing period in February 2012, I wrote write 70,000 words of that nonfiction book in 21 days. I’m weirdly proud of that. Just wish I could do the same for my own work.) The rest of my 2012 output—the remaining 175K words—consisted of a novel, 13 short stories, and the start of a children’s book. 

SHORTS: That said, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much of my time on short stories. In some cases, I was writing them because I needed something to clear my head while I working on various ghostwriting and editing projects. Ghost projects often feel like they’re going to go on forever; writing short stories became a way to help me break up the monotony. Thanks to this habit, I got back into the groove of submitting those stories, and saw four of them accepted in some way in 2012. (Look for another 2012-written short to appear in AHMM this year.) Going forward, though, I don’t want to devote much time to shorts in 2013. I would have been able to finish a second novel if I had focused solely on novels and novellas.

FICTION: Early 2012 saw me proofing and polishing The Mesmerist. I pubbed that book in spring. I wrote most of Marshal of the Borgo in 2012, and polished Arm of Darkness, which pubbed a few weeks ago. Marshal will take some more time, maybe another month. Going forward in 2013, I’ll be working on two novels and at least one novella.

GHOST PROJECTS: I coaxed three of these projects into being this year. This is where the bulk of my income comes from, so I can’t ignore this sector. But it’s really hard to write books for other people. You’re constantly doing things by committee, consisting of your “author,” your editor, agent, publisher, and an army of production people. And when the publisher wants a memo on the “author’s” platform, guess who is expected to crank that out? By contrast, work-for-hire books are infinitely preferable, but by definition don’t come with a percentage of the royalties. If these ghostwritten books do well when they come out, I’m contractually owed a sizable cut of the royalties. So yeah, I may not talk about them in much detail on this site, but you better believe I’m rooting for them to succeed. I’m still in the trenches on three of these ghost books, and no doubt there will be more of these in the future. If I had a resolution in all this, I guess it would be to move beyond ghostwriting. Hence my commitment to self-publishing.

HOLLYWOOD: One of these ghost projects actually led to a bonafide Hollywood option, which was a hilarious process. Maybe they’ll actually get the thing made, but who knows. I regard it as something of a joke. More on this if it develops into anything beyond a signed piece of paper.

ATOMIC: I spent a lot of time traveling with Denise to collect last-minute research. And I spent a lot of time editing and proofing that book through each of its stages. Thankfully, her book is two months from pubbing. Good to see it off our plates. She’s now mired in the pre-pub marketing stuff trad publishers ask you to do.

BLOGS: I moved to the Tumblr platform, which has made it easier to interact with all three or four of you. I now have three blogs: Daggyland, Honor the Bookman (which focuses on book covers), and Reubenologist (which tells you at a glance why I’ll end up with a cardiac arrest one of these days). The last two are quasi-anonymous and they’re done more for fun than self-promotion.

That’s about it. 2012 was also about hanging with friends, getting a new deck, doing more gardening, eating and drinking tons of food, traveling to a few new places for work or fun, losing more old friends, and meeting quite a few new ones. All said, I think I’m really lucky to be able to support myself as a freelance writer. And I’m very grateful for those of you who’ve helped me pull it off.