2022 Mid-year Check In

So…here were my writing goals for the new year:

  • Finish my grant project (this is the big one. I made some progress in the back half of 2021, but this will have my focus for much of the first half of 2022. I have a significant number of short stories to finish drafting for this to be done, but work is ongoing, if slowed by the pandemic.
  • Finish another secret project which I can’t talk about yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as the contract is signed. It’s damn near there! One story left to draft and then some revisions down the pipeline. Hope to be able to announce it soon.
  • Draft and submit a novella, either the one I outlined in 2021, or another piece.
  • Keep my reading momentum. Since I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done, I’m setting a realistic goal of 50 books and 50 short stories read in 2022.

Pretty manageable, mostly. But that was sort of the plan. I wanted to actually set some achievable goals for 2022. Here’s how I’ve been doing:

  • Finish my grant project (this is the big one. I made some progress in the back half of 2021, but this will have my focus for much of the first half of 2022. I have a significant number of short stories to finish drafting for this to be done, but work is ongoing, if slowed by the pandemic.
  • Finish another secret project which I can’t talk about yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as the contract is signed. It’s damn near there! One story left to draft and then some revisions down the pipeline. Hope to be able to announce it soon.
  • Draft and submit a novella, either the one I outlined in 2021, or another piece.
  • Keep my reading momentum. Since I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done, I’m setting a realistic goal of 50 books and 50 short stories read in 2022.

I’m so close to finishing the grant project! And am on pace to do so on deadline. Only one story left to draft and then I just have to write up my report and tally the budget to finalize the project. I’d like to revise at least a couple more of those drafted stories over the summer too. We’ll see.

That secret project is done (drafting and substantive edits, anyway. Copy edits and page proofs are still incoming, but neither should take too long. And guess what? The secret project is more short stories! Also, it’s not so secret anymore! The announcement happened a couple weeks ago.

This fall will mark the 10th anniversary of the release of Thunder Road, and I thought a Thunder Road themed short story collection would be a fantastic way to celebrate the milestone. Fortunately, Ravenstone Books agreed! Read a bit more about the book here!

I’ll let you know more about When the Sky Comes Looking for You as soon as I can!

I haven’t started work on that novella yet. Once I’m done drafting the grant stories, I might tuck into one of the two ideas I have outlined.

Maybe I should’ve set a more ambitious reading goal…I’ve already blown past my book and story goals (I almost read 50 short stories in May alone). I’ve basically doubled my reading goals halfway through the year. I won’t get into all the details here, I’ll save the breakdown for my annual reading round up, but some excellent stories and books have been read, and I’m excited to see what jumps out at me in the back end of the year.

One thing I’ve noticed about my writing as I’ve been focusing on short stories is that the short stories are coming a little easier. This may be a factor of my different approach this year. More and more I’m going off of short snippets that were the inciting incident, or only a concept and just sitting down and writing a little bit every day until I have a first draft. Which I suppose sounds like a perfectly reasonable way to write a story, but it’s not the way I’ve usually written them. Previously, I’d stitch together bits and bobs that had no other home but felt like the might fit together. I won’t say that approach didn’t work, as I sold a lot of those stories to the markets they were intended for, but it sure was inefficient. Multiple passes reorganizing the quilt of pieces until a story took shape, and gradually stitching them together on hard copy after hard copy, building them up a little more each time writing more and more connective tissue each time, and cutting almost as many words as I wrote. I’m not saying I’ll never write a story that way again, but I think it came from a space of being tired and not wanting to waste words that already existed. I should know by now that there are always more words, there will always be more words, so get them down and fix them later rather than obsessing over trying to “save” old words I’d basically forgotten I’d written.

I think this new method of drafting has been working. So far this year I’ve drafted and submitted one story (I’ve been trying to figure this one out since I published Tombstone Blues), revised and resubmitted three stories to editorial directive, and completed nine first drafts of stories that are readable, if not ready to submit. I finished revising my first piece of flash fiction in almost a decade and submitted it to a dream venue. Among those newly drafted stories are some genres and styles I don’t typically write, so I hope they’ll find a good home. I also have at least one more short story to finish for an anthology to which I was invited to contribute.

What else has been going on in 2022, writing-wise?

Short story sale! I sold “The Empress of Marshmallow” to Pirating Pups: Salty Sea-Dogs and Barking Buccaneers! This is my seventh story sale to Rhonda Parrish. “The Empress of Marshmallow is set in the Thunder Road ‘verse, and I think makes a fun companion piece to “All Cats Go to Valhalla.”

I still really want to get back to writing novels, y’all, and I’ve got a few ideas poking around the edges of my brain, but for now, 2022 looks like a year of short fiction. If I hit all my goals early, I hope to reward myself with starting a new novel, or returning to an old novel draft as a stretch goal for the year.

So, all things being equal, I feel pretty good about how the year has gone so far reading and writing-wise.

Write on!