Well, that was a stinker of a year, eh? Or is that just my stinking hangover? Quite possibly it’s both, or I’m still seeing double from my gargantuan effort to finish off all the Christmas booze last night so there wouldn’t be any left cluttering up my attempts at dry January. Oh, wait, I’m not talking about this year, yet, am I?
*takes deep breath*
I’m good, I’m good. Let me just lean against this wall for a bit, gather myself.
Every year I write myself a little accountability blog for the year just gone, and another for what I want the year ahead to bring. That was I can look back at the end of the year and see how much I have or haven’t managed to achieve, which is a dangerous game to play in these pandemic plague times, but I’m English, and as such crave disappointment.
Actually, for all that 2021 continued the running trend of being a general dumpster fire for the majority of the population of the planet, if I zoom in just to the bit where I’m trying to be a writer, cock my head and squint, it doesn’t look too bad. Let’s crack open those goals for the year and see what I managed to achieve, shall we?
1. Launch two books. Aha! I didn’t just release two books, I released nine! IN YOUR FACE 2021! Okay, well, so that’s not quite right. At the beginning of the year I was planning on releasing what was at that point the second book in my Sunset Chronicles series, as well as the first book in a vampire series. Neither of which technically happened. As I was preparing the second Sunset book for release, I looked back at the whole thing and realised that it didn’t really work in its current form, and would lend itself much better to being a serial. So I pulled the first book from sale, spent a few months rejigging everything and rewriting some stuff, and I re-released it as a monthly ebook serial. Season One covered the same ground as the already published first book, and as I write this, I’m two weeks from releasing the last episode of season two.
This has actually worked really well. Loads of people seem to be really enjoying the ride, and as I’m working on Season Four at the moment, with a full nine seasons in the planning, it’s going to be a huge focus of mine for the next few years.
Incidentally, if you’ve not checked out the first episode yet, it’s completely free from this website, and at any of the dystopian hellscapes that pass for online corporate megaliths these days. Why not check it out. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, how about these covers, eh?
2. Focus on my course. I’m currently studying a diploma in creative writing at Oxford, and I wanted very desperately to do well in it, which I duly did, passing my first year so close to getting a distinction that I could practically smell it. If you’re wondering what a distinction from Oxford University smells like, it smells like a mixture of soy sauce and cinnamon.
I actually really enjoyed the first year of this course, especially the social side of it, once the world opened up enough for us to have one. There’s nothing quite like hanging out with other writers. But the validation I’ve felt from getting such good feedback from such luminaries has been phenomenal.
3. Launch Hollow Stone Press. What I actually wrote on this was as follows: ‘I’m planning on taking Hollow Stone from being a name I put in the publisher field of my books on Amazon to being, you know, an actual publisher.’ Now I can’t say I’ve actually achieved that, yet, but I’ve put in a lot of groundwork toward it, and I reckon this is a lot closer to being a reality in 2022. So I’ll take that. Oh, and I’ve got a cool logo now, so that’s half the fight. Right?
4. Get more readers. As I said this time last year, ‘I plan on collecting readers like Panini stickers, and I won’t stop until I have a full set, which is equivalent to Stephen King’s readership.’ I’m still many many miles from the King, but I will say that I’ve found a lot more readers this year. In fact, while I’m still a fair distance away from being able to do this full time, this year has been far and away my most successful in terms of selling books, and finding readers. Given that I’ve been able to achieve that without spending any money on advertising, I’m pretty chuffed with that. If you’re one of those readers, I cannot begin to thank you, it really does mean the world to me.
5. Get healthy: An old perennial this one, one that’s graced my yearly goals since I’ve been old enough to have them. And again, this year I’ve done… not too bad. Between April and November I lost just over two stone, and got into a nice exercise routine in the mornings, the first time I’ve ever been able to say that. Of course, that ship got completely derailed in December, but I’m back on it again, the minute this hangover clears, which should be around…. October 17th, 2025.
6. Get a life: A bit more complicated, this one. I still don’t feel at all connected to my new home, Cirencester, even though I’ve been here for over three years. I don’t know anyone here, and while it’s a pleasant enough place to live, the pandemic has completely robbed me of the ability to make connections here. But that’s not to say I’ve not made connections in other places. I joined an online group run by the good people at Hawk & Cleaver, who are very much my tribe. So while I’ve not got a tribe in the meatspace, there’s one that lives in the tiny box in my office, and that one will do.
I also had a wonderful moment earlier in the year when I went back up to my old university stomping ground for a gig with my good lady wife, and got to see a load of, quite frankly, the best friends a person could hope for. It was a wonderful time, the kind of thing that makes you remember what true friendship is, and it’s probably my favorite thing that happened this year.
So there you have it, accountability achieved for another year. I’ll be following up with a separate post about my favourite albums, films, books and stuff of the year, because this is already a good thousand words of waffle. Then I’ll be back again with my goals for the year ahead.