Towards the end of 2017, I was feeling pretty discouraged about how my writing was progressing. My first novel continued to not sell. My second novel continued to not write itself (yeah, I know—I thought about it a lot but didn’t spend much time at the keyboard). My biggest frustration, though, was a non-fiction project I took on as a “quick” and interesting side gig that managed to suck up a lot of my writing time and energy for the second year in a row. Friends—don’t let your friends become ghostwriters.
To cheer myself up, I made a list of what I did manage to accomplish:
- published two short stories
- finished a first draft of the non-fiction book
- did some freelance writing on Upwork
- adapted a Chekhov short story into a play
- translated a Chekhov one-act into English with Alisa Boland
- translated Chekhov’s Seagull into English with Olga Kalashnikova
- wrote a full-length play with Stephanie Kong
A couple of things stand out:
One, most of this work was done in collaboration, and I really enjoyed that. I’ve tried to collaborate on writing projects in the past with little success, but apparently this was my year. The play with Stephanie was some of the best writing I’ve ever done and probably my favorite creative collaboration ever.
Two, that’s an impressive body of work—three full-length projects and multiple shorter projects. I’d been beating myself up because I hadn’t published more, but all of my Upwork articles and projects were published, all the Chekhov stuff got produced for Hawaii Shakespeare Festival (essentially a self-production, but still), and the play Stephanie and I wrote will definitely see a production at some point, one way or another.
2017 verdict: not as shitty as I originally thought.
2017 writer earnings: about $600.
On to 2018. Again, this felt like a year without a lot of progress. And, again, a big part of that was the non-fiction project, which stretched into a third year (and beyond). However:
- finished a second draft of the non-fiction book
- finished and turned in a 75,000 word third draft to the agent
- published two more short stories
- wrote a first draft of a new play with Stephanie
- wrote and “published” two short pieces of interactive fiction
- created an outline for an interactive novel with Kathryn Lee
- started this blog
A couple of good things to come out of 2018:
I’m getting better at collaborative writing. Every collaborative project and partnership is its own thing with its own methods and boundaries and even percent participation. This topic really deserves its own post, so I’ll get into it more later.
I’m enjoying non-fiction writing. I never really thought of non-fiction as my thing, but I find I take delight in breaking down a technical topic for a lay audience in a way that’s clear and entertaining. It’s like teaching—in slow motion. I’m actually working on my own non-fiction book now, currently in the research phase.
2018 verdict: more professional, but ugh.
2018 writer earnings: about $7,500.
What does 2019 hold? Hard to say. Nearly everything from 2017 and 2018 was either a holdover from a previous year (the non-fiction book) or spontaneous (the Chekhov, the plays with Stephanie, the game with Kat). One thing I would like 2019 to be is more intentional, to which end I am making “a plan.” Another thing I’d like to see is more projects actually make it out the door to paying markets, though I have less control over that, so I’ll remain focused on the work. The third thing is to harness the mental boost I get from actually finishing things, so I’ll be posting here more regularly and writing more short stories.