Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards

First, Happy New Year, everyone.

Second, I’m not doing a best of the year post this year.  I simply didn’t read enough new books to have a clue what the best material was.

I am going to give a recap of my year and lay out some goals for 2018.

From a writing and blogging perspective, the year wasn’t a good one, although it did start off well.  I was making progress on several projects.  Then in the spring, someone in the department retired; I got to pick up most of their job duties.  No, I didn’t get additional compensation.  That ate into a lot of my time.

I managed to get a couple of things done over the summer.  I also placed some stories, but nothing I had written in the last year. They should be appearing sometime this year.  I’ll announce them when they’re published.

The fall was especially rough, with too many evenings and weekends spent at the office getting caught up on stuff I wasn’t able to finish during regular hours.  We lost an international graduate teaching assistant who gave an invited presentation in her home country and then wasn’t allowed back in the US (for reasons that had nothing to do with any travel bans).  She had to be replaced, and we were already shorthanded.  A university police officer was shot and killed while processing a suspect, which prompted a departmental revision of emergency procedures (which were implemented in the Evacuate the Entire Campus for Five Minutes bomb scare at the beginning of the month).

Things aren’t going to get better if certain rumors are true.

There were also some positive things that interfered with writing, namely my son’s marching band went to state, the first time any high school in town has managed that in 35 years.  That involved a time commitment I gladly made.

This next year some things need to change.  First, I need to get more sleep, eat better, exercise more, and lose some weight.  That way I maybe I can focus at the end of the day instead of being asleep on my feet.  Work will stay at work.  No more evenings and weekends.  Students can see me during office hours.  Other times my door will be closed.

My writing goal is to get at least 5,000 words written a week.  I think that’s a doable thing.  I’m going to use a calendar to mark my progress.  I’ve not done this before, but I hope this will be a form of positive motivation.

Since the novelette and novella seem to be my natural length, those are what I’m probably going to focus on.  What I mean by that is the story will be as long as the story needs to be.  I’ve got several things almost ready to go, they just need to be edited and cleaned up.  If I can hit at least 5,000 words a week, I should be able to complete at least one story a month, unless I make a go at a novel.  I’m still going to try to write short stories.  If there’s an open read for an anthology, I’ll submit if I’ve got something complete that fits the theme.  Otherwise, I’m probably going to take a pass and write what I want.  If nothing else, it will be good practice for me.  I won’t restrict myself to one genre, but will write fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

I’m going to try to blog more, and not just here but on my other blogs as well.  That ties into my reading goals, which I’ll discuss tomorrow.


17 thoughts on “Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards

    1. Keith West Post author

      Happy New Year to you, too, Adrian. One of my first writing projects for the new year will be the review of the current HFQ I promised you.

  1. James Reasoner

    Using a calendar to keep track of your wordage is a good idea. Since I started out on a typewriter and didn’t have accurate word counts, I kept track of my pages, writing them down on a calendar every day I wrote and keeping a running count of them for the month. This is what I still do. I really need that structure, and it’s a good, quick way to see if I’m maintaining the pace I need to.

    Happy New Year and best of luck with all your projects!

    1. Keith West Post author

      Thanks, James, and Happy New Year to you and yours.

      If your method is to use a calendar, then that’s what I’m going to do. You’ve hit a million words a year for the last 13, so there’s clearly value in the method.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Probably not, although there’s a possibility of a merit raise about March. I’ve got a couple of people helping me set up labs, but I’m still having to do enough close supervision and double checking while they get up to speed that some weeks I’m basically doing most of the work myself. The problem is some labs need to be switched late at night after the last lab ends at 8:00, and I get up early to cook breakfast and get to campus in time for an 8:00 AM class.

      I’m hoping I’ll get a small trickle of income through writing that will grow over the course of the year. Rigid time management is going to be the key.

  2. Woelf Dietrich

    Happy New Year, my friend. You have good goals there. I wish you all the best in attaining them.

    I plan to do a lot more writing this year (I almost said next year). I also want to do historical fiction. I have had that itch for a while now. But first I have to complete old projects dying to be finished.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Happy New Year to you as well. Thanks for the well-wishes.

      I’d like to do some historical fiction, myself. I’d probably start with short fiction simply because of the amount of research involved. Not that I mind the research. I’d consider that to be fun. But I would want to try out some ideas.

      Good luck on your writing. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work this year.


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