It’s the start of a new year, which is as good a time as any to look back at the last one. I know I got a lot of work done, but it doesn’t feel like I did. I edited Static Ruin at the start of the year, and outlined and wrote the first draft of Repo Virtual, then edited and rewrote that draft to get it to a point where I was satisfied with submitting it to my editor. On top of that I wrote one or two short stories, a few essays/articles, and three comics pitches. All while working a part-time job, and doing all the other stuff that we have to do just to live.
But still, I only wrote one novel. That’s what my brain keeps telling me. Only one novel, as though some writers don’t spend years on a novel, as though I didn’t pour my everything into writing that book.
I had it in my mind that I would like to write a novel and a novella per year, so anything less than that feels like failure. I’m trying to cut myself some slack though, but we’ll see how that pans out.
Anyway, I’ve got some really exciting projects lined up for 2019. One is a comic series that Austin and I are currently planning (along with a one-shot that we’ll probably put together as a sort of proof-of-concept RE: the whole comics collaborating thing), one is a novella or short novel that I’m currently planning with another collaborator, and the third is my Crisp novel, which has been slowly growing and evolving in my mind for literally 1 week shy of 2 years. All three of those projects might not come together this year, or at all, particularly as collaborations set up a whole bunch of additional hurdles, but I’m excited about them. If nothing else, I just want to get the first draft of that Crisp novel written, anything more will be gravy.
2018 is also the year that I really focused on reading more non-fiction. I still hugely value fiction because there is plenty more for me to learn in prose writing, and because writing is a conversation, but since Killing Gravity was published I’ve also seen the value in reading things I normally wouldn’t, in reading non-fiction that could feed into my projects, and in actively trying to learn more about the world.
Even though I read plenty of great books, the two that stand out in my mind are Nick Harkaway’s Gnomon, and Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing. These two books not only grabbed me, like many of the others did (Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck and Omar Robert Hamilton’s The City Always Wins come to mind), but they also taunted me by saying “You’ll never write something this multi-faceted/multi-layered/complex/precise/good/etc.” With three intertwined timelines/stories, The Only Harmless Great Thing is precisely wrought and utterly phenomenal, cramming an awful lot in to such a slim volume. And with it’s nested stories, deep, deep narrative layers, and utterly unique voices, Gnomon is so good that if you’re a writer it will make you kind of hate Nick Harkaway. I still don’t love the ending, but at the same time I see why it was the only way he could have written it. The size of it might put some people off, but it is simply stunning. I really don’t know how Harkaway did it.
So, 2019. In the short-term, it’s going to involve a lot of work editing Repo Virtual, but after that, I’m excited and hopeful about these next three projects. Wish me luck.