Looking Back At 2016

I will look back at 2016 as one of the worst years of my life. Now, I am lucky because in the grand scale of things it hasn’t been as bad as some peoples, but it’s been challenging. I’ve had two close family members have life changing health problems. The complications have caused a lot of stress but I’ve just tried to crack on and something I’m trying hard to do is living each days as it comes. I used to worry a lot, and I still do a bit but after listening to Chris Hadfield’s autobiography, An Astronauts Guide To Life On Earth, I learnt that thinking things through from the worst case scenario makes problems easier to deal with. That can sound a little negative but I think it’s helped me a lot in dealing with problems as they’ve come along. One of my favourite sayings of the year has to be “We’ll deal with it when we come to it”. Another one has been “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to”.

Another, self-inflicted, problem I had this year was I decided I was ready to stop being single. This one was an epic crash and burn if I’m honest, but a few lessons were learnt and I’m not even close to being as pro-active on that front as I was. I’m back to how I was at the start of the year and quite content as I am. If I meet someone then great, but I’m not loosing sleep over it.

Writing wise, I didn’t come close to achieving any of my targets from the start of the year. I wrote 195,396 words throughout the course of the year, but didn’t really finish anything. Most of the year was spent on Penal Earth, The Space Watch, and the FanFiction piece. I did complete three short stories. Two from the same universe as The Space Watch and one that is based off a (non-writer) friends story that she wrote for an assignment years ago.

Thinking about it now, I’ve written two novellas (to a degree) this year, but only one of them is in a decent shape. The FanFic piece is all over the shop and needs a lot of work. The lesson I’m taking from this is that I need to focus better. I need to get a draft finished that is coherent and not needing a ridiculous amount of editing.

Something I learned from writing FanFiction is that I need to have better depth to my stories. I need to work on character histories, adding more depth to the settings of the stories, and to more of the plots themselves.

Reading wise I should have done much better. I read/listened to thirty books over the course of the year. I had aimed for sixty but I think as more time progressed through the year it was a seriously unrealistic target. I didn’t finish vN by Madeline Ashby, or Day of Chaos: Endgame before the end of 2016 either.

NaNoWriMo was a success in that I did my best total of 58,558 words. I ended up with a very messy draft for the second year running. Then I had a major NaNo hangover in the early part of December (part of that was hitting a speed bump in The Space Watch). So come NaNo next year I’ve got to focus on getting a decent draft done. I know I can write 50k in a month, in 2017 I need to write a story that is coherent.

My big problem of 2016 was that I felt in a rut for the majority of it. I managed to pull myself out a few times, a few times friends had to drag me out of it. I quickly fell back into that rut though. Some of the reasons were the lack of progress with dating. Other times it was because I was getting stuck with a story and instead of moving over to something else for a couple of days I’d binge watch something (I must have watched all of The Big Bang theory episodes four times during the course of the year). That didn’t help and just sucked me into a deeper hole.

Right now I’m feeling very energised and pumped. I’m trying to be pro-active and get work done. For the first time in quite some time I feel like the stories are talking to me and ideas are coming quite easily. What I’ve got to master is not letting myself get stuck into a rut. I’ve got to become more consistent and get work finished.

30th December 2016

During my lunch break I cracked out a solid 431 on The Space Watch (which takes it over the 25k mark). I didn’t get anything tonight written as I went to see Rogue One (awesome movie, by the way!) so that meant I didn’t get any time to write tonight. I knocked out almost five hundred words during lunch though, and if I can be doing that sort of number during my lunch break then I’ll be quite a happy man.

I don’t think I’m going to finish this Judge Dredd comic I’m reading by the new year though. I’ve got a good two-thirds to go and I just don’t think I’m going to have the time to read through it. The audiobook vN by Madeline Ashby I think I will as I’ll be at work tomorrow and I’ve got less than three hours of it to go. I’ll admit I wasn’t a hundred per cent sold on this book but with where Ashby has taken the story I’ve really gotten pulled into it a lot more and I’m actively trying to figure out where she’s taking the story.

I’m not expecting to get anything written tomorrow. I’m going to a friends house to see the new year in and between that and work I just don’t think I’ll have the time, but if I have a few minutes to spare I’ll get some words down.

29th December 2016

Right, today I’ve knocked out 819 words. A few hundred was written during my lunch break and rest were this evening. Although I am finding it easier to write I’m still finding myself quite distracted as I am writing but I’m getting better.

Some of this evening was writing a book review for Justin R. Macumber’s Fragile, which I recommend people check out as I really enjoyed it. As I was posting the review to Goodreads I checked out how I was doing on the reading challenge for 2016 and out of a target of sixty books that I’d set myself to read at the start of the year I’ve read thirty. Now some of those were comic books and a fair few were audiobooks, but what made me laugh was the fact that Goodreads said that I still had two days to go and could read thirty books in two days…… yeah that isn’t going to happen. Even if I was a faster reader I very much doubt I could knock out thirty books in two days. My grandad was quite a voracious reader when his health allowed him to be but I doubt even he could smash through thirty books in two days.

Anyway, I do have an audiobook and a comic book that I’d like to have wrapped up by New Years Eve. The audiobook is vN by Madeline Ashby and the comic book is Day of Chaos: Endgame (Judge Dredd). I’d like to get those two wrapped up so I can go into the new year with a fully clean slate reading wise. I know the next three to four novels that I want to read and I’m looking forward to the three that I’m definitely going to delve into.

I am chuffed I’ve consumed thirty books this year, I didn’t think it was anywhere near that to be honest. Come 2017 I’ll be setting that goal of sixty again and be much more proactive in hitting that target.