December 22, 2023
So, the final blog for 2023, and it will be a summary/observation of a first year of full time writing. Fair warning so you can choose to read on or bail.
Let’s get the dry info out of the way – the year’s statistics.
The Last Wizard series – Tamesan, Chasse, Jaysin, Harmi – Fantasy novels
The original The Last Wizard was published by Pan Macmillan way back in 1995. It was successful and made its way into schools, and was a finalist in the inaugural Aurealis Awards, losing out to Garth Nix’s Sabriel. While it was written as a stand-alone at the time, I had pencilled ideas for a series. That never saw light of day for many personal reasons at the time. This year, however, I completed three novels – Chasse, Jaysin, Harmi - each one focussed on a sibling in the family, the last one told from the dragon’s point of view, each draft of around 90,000 words taking just over a month each to complete. The series is now ready for 2024 submissions.
The Dragonkin series – Storm, War, Revenge – Fantasy novels
Dragonkin was started way back in 2007 as a follow on from the Dreaming in Amber and Ashuak Chronicles published by HarperCollins, but was never developed beyond half a first book draft. Conceived as a development on the fate of the dragons that were tricked into following the Alfyn through a portal in the Amber books, this year I finished drafts of book one – Storm – and book two – War. Book three – Revenge – is yet to be drafted and so this series is a 2024 project.
Girlie – Historical Romance novel
Girlie has gone through four years of development, and one submission and rejection, but the manuscript is ready for 2024 submissions.
Bill – Historical novel
A second historical novel focussed on a young male in the 1930s and 1940s is underway. It’s in fledgling form. It follows the experiences of a boy growing up on a remote farm whose mother dies when he is 11 through to his joining the RAAF in 1944. Lots to do.
All We Have – Science Fiction novel
Pre-Covid and post-ISIS, in 2017-18 I drafted a novel in diary entry form titles All We Have of a young man who finds himself in world torn apart by a pandemic and the rising up of ‘terrorist’ organisations during the pandemic. Apart from the apocalyptic elements described, the twist is the pandemic virus adapts rapidly to control its hosts – zombie apocalypse. While the first draft is finished, I think it needs significant editing in light of the world’s recent/current experiences and maybe with regard to characters. To be edited in 2024.
Rebound – Science Fiction novel
I undertook NaNoWriMo last month and completed a 56,000 word draft based on corporate control of the world and the attempt to introduce cyborg players into international basketball. The organisation, Independent Freedom, uses assassins to disrupt corporate efforts to monopolise business and push the citizens deeper into poverty. The corporates use assassins to take out IF operatives. Caught in the mix is a basketball club targeted as an experimental ground for the cyborg athletes. I’m hoping to finish final edit of Rebound and get it ready for 2024 submissions.
We Need to Talk about Teaching – Education guide
I’ve wanted to publish a guide to the daily aspects of teaching no one talks about until you’re on the job – yard duties, reliefs, parent relationships, PD etc – and I wanted to tell it interspersed with hundreds of teacher comments I’ve collected over a long time. This work is now in first rough draft, but it needs a significant edit., even though I thought I could get it done this year. Now it’s in the 2024 list of ‘To be continued…’
Those closest to me know that until this year, writing was slotted in around everything else – education work, family, sport. A fantasy novel commonly took a year to draft into reasonable shape. Between 1990 and 2008, I managed to have 11 fantasy novels and 2 teenage novels published with Pan MacMillan and HarperCollins, and several short stories, articles and scripts. Contracts from publishers certainly helped with self-discipline over that eighteen-year publishing period.
This year, unencumbered by full time work, it has been incredibly liberating to re-evaluate life and writing, and the victor and victim simultaneously has been self-discipline. I have had to establish a writing and reading and editing routine during what would normally be the working week. Simultaneously, I have also been challenged to ‘relax’, slow down’, enjoy retirement’. Balancing those two forces is a challenge. It’s nice to have the challenge. Some days I manage to do one or the other, some days both. Occasionally, neither.
Nibbles – okay, let’s leave that topic. Loneliness does inspire nibbling. I have to be very conscious of getting up and moving about because there are days when I am so focussed on what I’m writing that several hours can pass before I realise I better move.
Another thing I’ve done is set myself a daily word count of around 3000 words – basically, if I hit it, I can make choices to do other things that day (or keep writing), It’s not strict – I cheat. But it gives the writing ‘job’ parameters against which I can measure productivity. Did I just write that?
The last comment on self-discipline concerns money. I’ve made none from writing this year. At times, I’ve defaulted to looking on Seek for possible jobs that will bring in money. I’ve contemplated at least doing relief teaching, anything to justify my existence. And that’s when my responsible brain kicks in and says, ‘You have chosen to be a writer. You didn’t choose to make money. You chose to create. Creativity is never a guarantee of income. Lots of famous writers died penniless (and lots more unknowns). Why should you expect anything different from your art? Be an artist. Stop being tied to monetisation.’ So, yes, the hardest discipline is to accept that I am no longer a part of capitalist productivity. At best, I’m a creative, relying on someone else to house, clothe and feed me. I have nightmares…
Has this year been productively successful in writing? Mostly, yes. I’m pleased with the output. It’s good to have completed drafts of seven projects that have been languishing on the computer in notes for up to twenty years. It’s also good to have two fresh projects drafted. The focus this year was always going to be purely on writing, not on seeking agents or publishers. To that end, it has been successful.
But now, the truly difficult and scary part of my choice to leave safe employment and be a fulltime writer begins for 2024 – securing a literary agent and publishing the books. Those are part of the 2024 goals, along with developing and completing several more projects that have languished for lack of time in the past.
If you’ve followed my ramblings this year, thank you. Have a safe holiday period (if you have one) and see you in 2024!
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...