2018 in Review - Part One

Photo by  Bernard Hermant  on  Unsplash

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Finally, the feral beast known only as the Bastard Year of Twenty Eighteen is drawing to a close. Its successor, the enigmatically titled Twenty Nineteen, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born, its hour come round at last.

Ignoring all the vaguely apocalyptic rumblings this year has delivered, the arrival of December on our calendars is a pretty good arbitrary marker in the sand with which to reflect, drink stock -- no, wait, ew.  Take stock, that’s the thing, right?

One of the best things about having a blog that’s been running for eleventy billion years is that I’ve gotten into a pretty good habit of marking down my aims and goals for the year, and revisiting them twelve months later. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do right…

NOW!

The first thing to note, before I bring up the bullet-pointed list, is that 2018 has been a year of tremendous upheaval in my life. This time last year we had moved to Whitby, aka the most loveliest place on Earth, and were looking at moving to Switzerland with my job. Then the world got flip-turned upside down like I’m the Fresh Prince of somewhere, and I had to find a completely new job, and a new place to live. I managed both, and now live at the opposite end of the country, in the quite lovely Cotswolds, with a brand new job. Thankfully the move has gone really well, but it was roughly akin to someone carving a giant chunk out of the year and throwing it in the bin. So, with that caveat in place, let’s look at the list.

No new books. Relatively straightforward one, this. After two years in which I’d released three novels, this was giving myself a pass from feeling the pressure to release any new ones. In which case, mission achieved. Well done me! That’s not to say I’ve been resting on my laurels, or any other part of my anatomy, but more on that in the next exciting bullet-point.

Break even with my writing career. Slightly tricky this one. I had decided, with this being the third year of my being an indie author, that I would try and break even, which is to say make as much back as I’ve put in. On that score, I missed the target by some considerable margin. However, I have made a profit within the year, and that’s despite making quite substantial further investments on courses, software and loads more besides. I also feel like that I’ve taken some huge strides forward this year, redesigning my own covers, branching out to Wattpad and Patreon, and understanding a great deal more about this business we call writing. So, while I’ve failed to hit that metric, I have realised it was a pretty meaningless one in the long run, and I’m in a pretty decent place now, with a foundation that I can hopefully use to springboard to future success much more easily.

Engage with the blog and my mailing list more. I did this one! I’ve been emailing my mailing list every week since about halfway through the year, and that list has grown from a few hundred to over three thousand readers. If you’re one of those, thank you so much for your engagement and support over the year, even though I’ve not had any new books out.

Retire music writing. Another tick. I miss music writing (and my next post will include my top twenty albums of the year), to the point where I’ve had to restrain myself on several occasions from trying to restart it, but it’s not what I want to be doing, long term. I still might redesign the cover to Welcome to Discovery Park, though, that little sucker deserves better.

Increase my writing productivity. This is a constant battle, one which I’m sure all creatives trying to keep a work/life/art balance struggle with. But I’ve done pretty well, I think. I’ve completed NaNoWriMo once more, completed a few hundred thousand words, and knocked my once-incoherent next novel into some semblance of shape. But it’s a difficult balance to strike, and one that plays directly into the next item on the list.

Get healthy, both mentally and physically. Given the year I’ve had -- full of stress, travelling, moving house, changing career, shepherding children through a second relocation in a single year – it’s perhaps unsurprising that I’ve not had the healthiest of years. I’m basically at the point where the only thing between me and post-gum Violet Beauregarde cosplay is a shave and a tub of blue paint. On the plus side, this time last year I was feeling quite fragile, beaten up by the world while also feeling that I was getting off far too easily from its harshness. I was addicted the to the news, and I was tired. Run down. I don’t feel that way now. Okay, I don’t feel like that all the time. I still look at the news far too much to be healthy. But I’m feeling much more positive and determined. I’ve got a lot of plans not just for the next year, but for the next few years, and I’m struck through with positive energy toward reaching those goals. Which is progress, no matter what my slightly (*ahem*) expanded waistline says. 

So there you have it. Not a bad year, all told, even though I feel a little more battle scarred now than I did before. As always, the only reason I’m able to keep going on so many fronts is my wonderful wife. She’s an absolute ace, and has not only taken this whole year in far more elegant stride than I, but has also become my first Beta reader, and she’s currently reading through my next book and giving me a thousand notes to make it infinitely better. She’s the best, and I’m lucky to have her.

So there goes 2018. Fare thee well, you unscrupulous bastard.

Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon.