Nine Years of Posts – 2021 in Review

Blog Post No. 476

200I’m not alone in thinking that 2020 was a strange year (it totally was) but 2021 was something else entirely. I’ve tried to limit the amount that I write about the pandemic (especially as a main topic of a blog post) but it’s crept into my posts more and more. The reality is that we’re still in the middle of a deadly disease sweeping the globe and in August, I had to go back to the Day Job. As you can imagine, I wasn’t super stoked about going back (most due to the risks). I did have half the year to keep acting like a full time author, though.

Recently, I’ve started to get accustomed to the new normal. Wearing a mask (while a pain for long shifts) is more comfortable than it was at the start of the year. Going out, even to work or the grocery store, feels weird. I limit the amount that I leave the house (not like I was all that adventurous before). There are a few things I keep meaning to do like drop in to places like Anchor, Bibilioasis, and Dr. Disc, but I can’t seem to find the time (or motivation) to take the risk (as low as it may be with precautions and vaccines). I guess I just wish that other people were a little more careful, but that’s my own hang-up.

20210426_131539I think that since I’m forced to go out for groceries and work, I’m less likely to put the effort into going out for things I’d like to do. Also, I feel like some people are going out more than they should and I hate feeling like a hypocrite. (Again, my own hang-ups). I feel a little guilty because of how easy I’ve had it over the last couple of years. Other than missing my family and friends, I’m pretty comfortable hiding at home.

Speaking of the Day Job (since it’s the most significant thing that happened to me in 2021) going back has been a big adjustment. With the loss of some long time renters (who justified a lot of my long shifts) a new supervisor, and working at multiple centres, my schedule has been much more volatile. I’m not a fan of working more days with fewer hours, but I’m not in a position to turn down shifts. In the last half of the year, I took every shift that I could. It’s meant working at night a lot more, which was another change.

200-1Things at the Day Job are still in flux. The start of the year is traditionally a slower time, and as of writing this post, my schedule for the next couple of weeks is pretty light, but I had a light December and ended up working a lot more than I had expected, so who knows. I’m just trying to not let the unpredictability slow down writing and editing too much. Not being able to meet up with the Writing Wrecking Crew has been tough enough.

I did have a pretty good year when it comes to this blog. Over the last few years, I managed to stop the plummeting visitors stats, but the views were steadily dropping. I worked really hard to come up with interesting topics and in 2021 I managed to get a boost in both views and visitors. It is officially the second best year I’ve ever had. I ended up with 2069 Views from 1181 visitors. I fell a little short of the 2016 high water mark (95 fewer views and 133 fewer visitors).

d2v34q6-b69ee1d4-3955-47d7-8e55-5d03cbd3f071Hopefully I’ll be able to get back out to events by the end of this year and I’ll have more to say (and maybe find some new readers to help keep things from dropping again). At the start of the year, I had considered some ways to improve the readership (not knowing if the pandemic would help or hurt the numbers). In the end, all I really did was put more effort into ideas for posts (and writing them a little earlier to give myself more editing time). I had considered reading and commenting on other blogs more in an attempt to build community and draw a little readership from more successful blogs. I could stand to part of the blog community more, but it’s nice to know I can find readers the old fashioned way.

2021 was a year of edits. The only real writing I did was knocking out the first draft of the new (and last) novella in the Synthetic Albatross Series. I’m still a little torn on how I feel about putting the series on hold, but I feel good about how writing Snow from a Distant Sky went. I wrote it in August, like I had with Break/Interrupt, but unlike the last book, I finished before the month was out. I’m not sure if it was the fastest I’ve written that many words, but it was close. I was able to keep it tighter (a failed goal for the last two books) and I think it stands up at its length. The first draft ended up just shy of 40 000 words in 29 days. Finishing a draft is almost as great as having the book in your hand. I’m on track for the April release and I think the last post for January will probably be an update (so keep a look out for it if you want more info).

20210413_135530Since I spent 2020 finishing the first draft of the Invasion Novel, I had nothing else but editing to do for 2021. It’s all past Ben’s fault. Break/Interrupt had to be edited for April (thought it came out well, if I say so myself) and I had intended to get far enough into the edits of the Invasion Novel to feel comfortable with sending it out for some beta reads. The invasion of the bugs managed to ruin those plans, but I managed to get four drafts done before taking a break (again) to write Snow.

I regret how long it took me to get this far with the novel (and I regret that I had to take a break again, one of the many reasons why I’m putting novellas on the back burner). The plan is to get the Invasion Novel wrapped up this summer so I can start on a new novel in August. You’ll be stuck with hearing about the Invasion Novel for a while still. Even after it’s edited and I’m sending it out to agents, there will be some periodic updates. It should be all new about progress from here on out, though (but that’s all future stuff and this post is about the past).

flixhpft2hnua6oqik47Like every year, I tried and failed to make any progress with both short stories and ebooks. I managed to start some shorts (some at the Day Job), but didn’t finish any. Right now, I’m trying to wrap up a short while I wait for more edits to come in for Snow. I don’t always get to be at a computer at the Day Job now, so it’s even more difficult to be productive on shift (with my personal work). I think part of the struggle with shorts has been letting them suck for the first draft. I seem to still have a mental block when it comes to that (though I overcame it for the longer stories for the most part).

At least I managed to kick that dreaded summer slump that used to plague me. With a little effort I should be able to get over the short story hill, not to say it will last. I’ve still got to figure out the ebooks, but now it’s mostly getting up the nerve (and desire) to do a last cleanup on the Thinking Machine files I made (with the generous help of Arvin) and take the plunge with releasing it. (Again more future stuff and something I covered last week, but it felt relevant here). The point is that I didn’t make any short story ebook progress last year.

giphyBefore I wrap up a really long post, I’d feel strange if I didn’t mention the missed post from 2013. The farther I get from it, the less it feels like a big deal. I posted on Saturday instead of Thursday. It’s a blemish, but a little one. Maybe next year when I hit the decade mark, it will bother me again, but for now, I’m more impressed that I’ve done nine years of weekly posts (467 in a row if you discount the nine I’d written sporadically for a few years before). I’m going to hit 500 post some time in June. I’ve said it before. It may not be a big deal for everyone, but it was the start of my writing journey and it feels good to have made it this far.

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