The cataclysmic shitstorm that has been 2020 makes the whole idea of a ‘look back’ blog post a bit of a pointless exercise, but I’m nothing if not committed – I’ve been doing these accountability posts for about a decade now, I think, and just because I’ve been stuck in my house the whole time doesn’t mean I can let myself entirely off the hook for them. So, let’s take a look back on what goals I had, and what I’ve done with them.
1. Release three books: Ahem. I did release one new book, but due to *ahem* circumstances, the others didn’t get out into the wild. Which was a shame, what with this apparently being the biggest year for digital book sales ever. I’m great at riding trends, me. Still, this means the other two I had planned are even more oven-ready than Boris’s Brexit plan.
2. Write one more: I did this! Not only that, but I also actually wrote two more! Look at me go!
3. Build, build, build: My aim for this year was to work on my ‘brand’ which has been something of a mixed bag, mainly because of the whole ‘one book’ thing. I’ve done a lot of behind-the-scenes work on this in the last year though, most of which should hopefully pay off in 2021, if we’re ever allowed to go outside again.
4. Find my tribe. This was all about going out and finding like-minded writers and genre-types that I can build lasting friendships with, enjoying beers in a pub garden as we dissect tropes and talk about ways to overhaul the entire publishing industry. Turns out, that’s not so easy to do IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.
1. Get healthy. Let’s just agree not to even think about that one, eh?
2. Buy a house. I did this one! I have an office and everything. And, boy did we get that in time, given that I would immediately spend the next nine months surgically grafted to my office chair.
3. Love our new home. This time last year I had yet to connect with Cirencester, and a year on that’s not really changed. I guess it’s a nice place to walk a dog, but given we’ve not even been able to go to the pub all year, it’s been pretty hard to make any deep connections here. I miss people.
The truth is actually a little more complex that the above would show. Over the course of this year I’ve drastically re-evaluated my approach to publishing, what I want to get out of it, and how I’m going about, well almost every aspect of it. I wrote a bit about that, but the key change came about in September when Oxford University rather foolishly accepted me onto their Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing.
Sadly, the social aspect of that course (which would go toward taking care of that fourth action point) has been curtailed by the pandemic, but I’ve been really enjoying the course, and was relieved to find that my first assignment wasn’t met by an email explaining that they’d made a terrible mistake and they meant to give the place to some other Paul Stephenson.
Normally I’d write a whole separate blog post for the year ahead, but since 2020 was a year of stagnation, of life on hold, I’m just going to go right on ahead and roll over the goals I didn’t achieve this year. There’s absolutely no point beating myself up for not hitting entirely arbitrary targets in the midst of a global pandemic. So, here are my goals for 2021.
1. Launch two books. Sunburn should be out in February, and the first book in my new vampire series, Darkness Comes Alive, will be out in Q3.
2. Focus on my course. Ideally, I’d like to pass the first year with something approaching flying colours.
3. Launch Hollow Stone Press. I’ve been doing a lot of work around this (more on which soon) but 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.
4. Get more readers. 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.
5. Get Healthy. Ah, yes, hello darkness, my old friend. But seriously, though, I’ve put on so much weight in this pandemic, I need to turn that around before I float off like Violet Beauregarde.
6. Get a life. I have to admit to myself that this lockdown life suits me far too much. I’m an introvert at heart, or lazy, possibly, but when the world opens back up again, I need to make a conscious effort to get back out into it.
So, there you have it. Accountability achieved!