2016 Year End Wrap-Up

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time to look back on what’s done and look forward to the year to come. Poetic enough, I suppose, although 2016 was anything but pretty.

Looking back at my year-end post from 2015, I had high hopes for 2016. I’d planned on writing a half-million words, but instead I came up short at just over a quarter million. All in all, not a bad way to fail, but that’s still only 50% of my goal.

What happened? The first distraction came with my day job. The company I worked for was sold and that didn’t work out well for me, so I found myself back on the job market for the first time in nine years. It was a lot of stress and a big distraction. I have a new job now that’s going pretty well, so that distraction is gone.

The second problem was not having a good system in place to edit and proofread the work after I completed a first draft. After adopting Chris Fox’s sprinting technique, I started producing new words faster than I could proof them. As a result, I got way behind and sacrificed a lot of time writing new words in order to get caught up. I now have a good end-to-end system in place for proofing and publishing those manuscripts, so that bottleneck is gone too.

And thirdly, I let self-doubt cloud my creativity and I floundered for a while trying to get inspired to work on projects. Combined with the work problems, this stopped me cold.

Combined, these distractions cost me about a quarter million words.

That said, I did use this down time to work on other book-related tasks. I created paperback editions for all my novels, something I’d been way behind on. Now all my novels in eBook format also have paperback counterparts. In doing so, I streamlined the process, allowing me to release books in both paper and eBook at the same time going forward.

I also revamped my website, brianjjarrett.com, improving the aesthetics, simplifying the navigation, and reorganizing the content. It’s much improved now and I’m very proud of it.

So while I might have missed out on getting a few new books to market, at least I didn’t let the time go to to waste. I have something tangible to show for those hours and my business is further ahead than it was last year.

I published five new books this year so far, with one more coming out at the end of this month. I’m ecstatic about that. I completed all the major projects I’d planned on. So while a lot of bad things happened in 2016, I still came out of it with something to show for it.

So what’s in store for 2017?

I have a half-finished “creature feature” novel called Kryptos that should see the light of day next year.

I also have a completed Badlands novel manuscript written and in need of only an edit. I plan to release that one before 2017 year’s end. Speaking of Badlands, I think there’s more to come in this story world. I plan to flesh out some of those ideas by the end of next year. Stay tuned.

I started a few projects in 2016 that I plan to finish up next year: a crime novel, a short story collection, and a zombie book. Look for at least one more Tom Miller book too.

I have a vague idea for a book centered around dreams and perceptions of reality. I feel like that one will make it into the 2017 release schedule.

And then there’s a secret project that I’m not ready to talk about yet.

Ambitious? Sure, but doable, I think. Mostly because I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work and how to avoid the latter while focusing on the former. Will I hit a half-million words in 2017? Hard to say, but I feel more prepared this time around.

Either way, I’m glad 2016 is nearly behind me. I’m super excited about 2017. I feel like it’s going to be a fantastic year. I hope you guys come along for the ride.

Renewed Focus

I’d hoped that September would see me getting back into the swing of things, but it seems that I’m not quite back in the saddle. I’m about halfway through my work in progress, but things have stalled due to my inability to focus on the fiction writing.

In my defense, it’s been a hell of a time this year for me. If you didn’t know, I’m a full-time programmer (that’s my day job) and a part-time fiction writer. That’s actually more common than many people think; most traditionally-published midlist writers with New York contracts are part-time writers too. Only the big names can do it full-time (or those with a working spouse). Aside from the best sellers, most midlisters get shitty contracts and if their books don’t break out, they’re soon forgotten.

Anyway, the company for whom I worked almost nine years was sold back in December of last year. We were in a state of limbo while the company that bought us planned for their next acquisition, but we stayed busy on stuff and my writing wasn’t really affected.

And then in June of this year, the company made their next acquisition.

That’s when everything fell apart.

I won’t drag out the dirty laundry here, but suffice to say that things didn’t go as I’d hoped they would. We lost control of everything we’d worked so hard over the years to build. It took only a few months to destroy what we’d spent years creating, but during those few months, I just didn’t have the ability to focus on the fiction. I had my future to sort out, and that just sucked away all my attention and sapped my creative energy.

Eventually, I decided I had to find a new job, which also sucked away my time and energy.  Summer rolled in, so that meant doing a ton of stuff with my family. And once I found the new job, there’s the adjustment period to contend with (which is where I am now). Plus, we spent almost a week in Chicago this month, further taking me out of “the zone”.

So here I am now, the turmoil of the old job and having to leave some of my favorite people in the world behind me, the first week of my new job behind me, and the start of a new life chapter in front of me. That’s put me in a great position, however, because with all that job crap in the past, I can start to settle into a new norm. I’ve been writing long enough now to know that I’m the type of person who creates better when life is stable, and with this new stability will come the opportunity to put my focus back on the fiction.

What does that mean to you? First off, it means that I’ll be finishing the current work in progress soon. I figure it’ll be done by the end of October, should life continue to cooperate. The new book, Kryptos, should be published before Christmas.

Second, I’ll have the opportunity to start a new project on the heels of Kryptos. Not sure what that’s gonna be just yet, but I have some ideas in mind. Once I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

The good news is that I’ve published five new books already this year, so it’s not like I haven’t done anything. Hopefully, that’s enough to tide you over until the next book comes out.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the fiction again. Maybe the time away will turn out to be beneficial, allowing me to come back fresh and ready. Either way, I should have a much different update by the end of next month. Stay tuned.