The next chapter:  December 2022 update and year-end wrap-up


Happy New Year, everyone!

Your monthly PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.

Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations—not just covid, but flu, etc.—as recommended). Covid is endemic. It ain’t going nowhere. Take care of yourselves and the people you love.

Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. I stand with the Ukraine!

Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight!

Starting in the New Year, the monthly PSAs will cease. They have become performative, despite my best intentions. Y’all know my views. No need to harp.

The month in writing

First, I decided to let Alice in Thunderland sit until the 5th. Though this year’s NaNoWriMo wasn’t as exhausting as it sometimes can be, I still needed a break. Plus, I had some other writing work to do.

Even when I returned to Alice, though, the words weren’t flowing. I’m trying to listen to my body and brain more and on the 11th, I decided to let Alice sit until the New Year. She’ll still be on my mind, though. I have to think about the best way to end the story, which might involve me rewriting the beginning. Thinking of a circular, or echoing ending.

I had to do some work with Reality Bomb for Suzy, in any case, but I decided to take things easy and not stress out.

I had a stretch of vacation and wanted to focus on planning for the New Year and resting up. The dark time of the year is here, and I wanted to see what it would feel like to actually give myself some hibernation time when my energy reserves are low.

It was nice. I watched a lot of movies (see below) 🙂

Here’s how the month broke down:

The only writing/revision I did on RB this month was for my assignments. It wasn’t tonnes. No goal, but I wrote 9,398 words.

Like I said, I decided to let Alice percolate after the 11th. Between the 5th and the 9th, I wrote 1,008 words. Initially, I had thought Alice might be a full novel and I had committed to continue drafting through December. My goal was therefore fairly steep, and I chose not to change it (this time). So, 1,008 of 17,250 words works out to 6%.

For the first time all year, I didn’t meet or exceed my goal for the blog. That’s because I counted the bulk of my work on last month’s next chapter update towards my NaNo goal. Even including what I’d written of this update up to December 31st did not crack my goal. I wrote 4,644 words of my 5,000-word goal, or 93%.

I received the welcome news of another short story acceptance on the 8th. More on that later in the year.

And I received a lovely gift, just in time for the holidays, two of my poems, “Avalon” and “Blood Flower Moon,” were published in Polar Starlight 7.

And now for the year in review …

The year in writing

At the beginning of the year, I made what I thought were reasonable plans. I wanted to finish next round revisions of Reality Bomb by June (six months should have been doable, but alas), spend the summer focusing on poetry and short fiction, and then prep Maurshka for NaNoWriMo.

Welp, I was still working on RB in October when I signed up with Suzy. I decided to give up bulling my way through the revisions and see what Suzy had to say.

I did work on some poetry and sort fiction in the summer, but the short story I started (just something for myself) petered out and I haven’t thought of a way to proceed with it yet. I also decided that I’d set Marushka aside and prep Alice in Thunderland for NaNoWriMo instead.

With RB on hold, I did move on to work on Alice for NaNoWriMo, but I wasn’t aiming to win. I decided to take things easy and thought that Alice might be a novella, anyway.

And you already know how December worked out.

In terms of publication, it was a good year for me.

It started out with the publication of “The Undine’s Voice” in Polar Borealis 21 (May 2022), followed by the publication of my poem “Pillar” in Polar Borealis 22 (July 2022).

In August, “Torvi, Viking Queen” was published in Pirating Pups, edited by Rhonda Parrish, from Tyche Books.

And, as I mentioned above, I had two poems published in Polar Starlight 7 in December. So, two stories and four poems.

This may not seem like a lot, but it was great for me. In 2021, I had one story and four poems published and in 2020, I had three poems and a reprinted poem published. Slow progress, yes, but progress, nonetheless.

Also, I signed a contract with Latitude 46 for my first solo poetry collection, to be published in April of 2024. That’s not nothing 🙂

Here are the annual stats:

Project

Goal

Actual

Percentage

Reality Bomb

Revise 50,000 words

Revised 79,517 words

159%

Alice in Thunderland

Write 90,000 words

Wrote 29,307 words

33%

Blog

Write 55,000 words

Wrote 67,405 words

123%

Short Fiction

Write 6,000 words

Wrote 2,915 words

49%

 

Revise 10,000 words

Revised 478 words

5%

Poetry

No goal

Wrote 20 new poems

As you can see, I undershot the most with respect to the short fiction. I only wrote one new story, revised a couple, and stalled out on the second short story I started.

I’m not counting Alice as an undershot because of the novella thing. I think it will probably come out between 40 and 50k by the time I’ve finished drafting it and revised it.

Here’s another look with a monthly breakdown:

This year, I’m giving myself ten months to revise RB down to my 100k goal length, and then I’ll work on a query and synopsis, and hit the trenches.

I’ll finish Alice by the end of March and revise her by the end of June.

Sometime in the spring, I’ll be working with an editor on my poetry collection. Not sure how long that will take, but I’m scheduling six months.

I’m hoping to write and revise 6,000 words (each) of short fiction this year. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m toying with a creative non-fiction project. Not going to talk about this too much until there’s something to talk about.

And I’ve chosen my NaNo project this year. More on that in the future.

Again, I think the goals I’ve set are reasonable ones, but that always changes as the year progresses.

Filling the well

I have to backpedal a bit to November. I signed up for Tiffany Yates Martin’s Prologues webinar through Jane Friedman and watched the replay. I always learn something from Tiffany’s webinars and she’s a great presenter.

On December 4th, I attended a Revisions workshop with Mary Robinette Kowal. Her approach really speaks to me. I’m learning a lot.

I signed up for another Jane Friedman webinar, this one from Allison K. Williams about writing your second draft.

And I signed up for an Authors Publish webinar about writing layered stories readers will love with Nev March.

I had my second call with Suzy on Dec 7th. Part of my assignment was to work on my protagonist’s “why,” but I wasn’t sure if the why I had established was compelling enough given the why of my antagonist. There’s some massaging to do, but we can make it work.

I received my next assignment, to reframe and reorganize the first 20 pages of my draft given her review of my first chapter. Our next meeting was on the 21st. Again, progress was made. I think I just have to learn to trust myself more. Our next meeting is January 19th.

I attended the in-person holiday get-together of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild on the 17th at Twigg’s. I had a lovely crab salad sandwich and London fog. And some cookies.  

We lowkey celebrated Mom’s 79th birthday on the 20th. Chinese and cake.

Christmas was going to be at my mom’s on Boxing Day this year. Unfortunately, my brother- and sister-in-law got covid and we had to postpone. I’ll leave the decorations up until then, I think, though Phil says he wants to take down the railing garlands while the weather is mild.

Phil went full techie on my desktop, trying to keep things running well for as long as he can. I cannot afford a new computer right now.

I got a long-overdue haircut.

I also got my flu shot and had another meeting with my support group.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, Phil and I watched Wednesday. And we really enjoyed it. Jenna Ortega does an awesome job of letting us see what a teen Wednesday would be like. Yes, there were some overly complicated story beats.

Then, I watched The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special while putting my Christmas tree together. Silly, fluffy, and kind of dumb, but totally enjoyable for all that 🙂

I watched Spirited (Apple+). A fun take on A Christmas Carol. Old Marley runs a whole spirit division dedicated to reforming curmudgeons every year. The current ghost of Christmas present (Will Farrell) sets his eyes on an “unredeemable.” I won’t spoil the twist 😉 And really, Ryan Reynolds makes anything fun.

I received a holiday surprise 🙂 Fraggle Rock (Apple+) released a holiday special, too! Comfort/nostalgia viewing.

Black Adam (Crave) was next. It was a movie. Dwayne Johnson was fine, but I prefer his comedic roles. And Pierce Brosnan was a good Dr. Fate, but I really didn’t care about the other superhero characters and wasn’t given any reason to.

Then, I watched Wolf Walkers (Apple+). A balm to my pagan half-Irish soul. And beautiful. Just watch it, y’all.

I also watched Glass Onion (Netflix). As brilliant as Knives Out, but totally different. Janelle Monae was spectacular.

I decided to watch Guillermo Del Torro’s Pinocchio (Netflix). A dark and decidedly anti-fascist take on the traditional tale. The ending was bittersweet.

Then, I watched Slumberland (Netflix). A touching tale about grief and the power of dreams.

Phil and I watched the last season of His Dark Materials. Really good. Loved, in fact.

Moving on to the month in reading, I listened to The World We Made by N.K. Jemisin. Living cities versus eldritch horrors, vol. 2. Awesome. Robin Miles is one of my favourite audiobook narrators, and Simon & Schuster does a good job of the production.

Then, I finished Fevered Star, the second in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, by Rebecca Roanhorse. It was good, and I’m eager to read the third book.

I finally read Embers by Richard Wagamese. Brilliant and soulful. Teachings to return to.

I followed that up with another Wagamese book: One Story, One Song. The same as the above.

Then, and I think it was the weirdest read of the year, I read Bunny by Mona Awad. At first, I thought it was magical realism, then the body horror entered into the story, and then I wondered if everything was all in the protagonist’s head. It was a real trip, whatever it was. With thoughtful homage to, and feminist commentary on Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, fairy tales (Red Ridinghood, in particular), with a touch of Heathers and The Craft, Bunny was a wild critique (ha!) of MFA programs and the white privilege rampant in the university system.

Though it took me a while, I finished Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Real and the Unreal. There are a lot of stories in this collection, which was originally published in two volumes. A little Orsinia, a little Hainish, some science, and some whimsey. Good, but epic.

Next, I finally grabbed A Dead Djinn in Cairo, by P. Djèlí Clark. The missing piece of the Fatma puzzle! It explains a few things in Master of Djinn that were alluded to, but not fully fleshed out. Very good.

I finished Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John and the Hand of Devils. I didn’t realize how much of a lush Lord John was (!). Entertaining, and again, filled in a few gaps.

My favourite non-fiction read of the month was Chloé Hayden’s Different, not Less. Awesome to read about and autistic girl who received diagnosis and supports before she became an adult.

I didn’t quite meet my 2022 reading challenge. 55 books of my 60-book goal. Close, but no cigar. 92%. Not bad. This year, I’m taking my reading goal down to 40 books. Because I intent to do some close study/rereading this year, I don’t think I’ll be able to read many more.

And that was the month—and the year—in this writer’s life.

Until tipsday, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

3 thoughts on “The next chapter:  December 2022 update and year-end wrap-up

  1. Thanks for this careful review Melanie. I always love seeing the way you approach your craft, and then the way you review it as well.
    I’m glad to hear you’re listening more to your body. And thanks for all the great book and movie reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Melanie, I made a comment earlier, but it might have disappeared – something funny seemed to happen when I hit post
    It’s so good to read about your year of accomplishment (although I detect a bit of negativity bias in focussing on what didn’t get accomplished rather than the stunning 159% overage on the revision and the 123% overage on blog writing – you go girl!)
    Thanks too for the great movie and book reviews. there are several new entries on my “to read” and “to watch” lists because of this post.
    All the best for 2023!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue, thank you for your comments! I moderate, and so review all comments before they’re posted. That would be what happened. Your comment goes into a queue until I’ve had a chance to review and approve. It helps to avoid bots and other such random comments 🙂

      Like

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