So, 2012 Happened. Onward to 2013!

On this night, as 2012 is drawing to a close, I want to take a moment and look back over the year, the things I accomplished, and figure out some of what I want to do in 2013 (in broad strokes, not specific resolutions).  It seems like a good way to close out the year, and to actively reflect and remember what happened this year instead of letting it disappear into the aether of my thoughts.

So, without further ado…

What happened in 2012

  • Therapy — I ended up going to therapy at the end of 2011, which helped me sort through some anxiety issues and restructure how I view my life so they’re less likely to dog me, but in 2012 I entered something at my school called the Coach program.  Here they pair you with a fellow student who you meet with about once a week and they help you set goals, give advice, and assist you in taking steps to get your life sorted and building ways to help you cope with it.  I won’t go into details, except to thank Aya, my coach, who never stopped believing in me and was a wonderful help through the first six months of 2012.  It’s really helped me out in the long run, and with the new techniques and strategies we developed as well as having someone to gently push me forward has let me start gaining forward momentum towards becoming more of the person I want to be.  And that’s absolutely invaluable.
  • I wrote a novel!  On accident! — So, funny story.  Earlier this year I was trying to finish up my NaNoWriMo from 2012, a prequel novel to the novel that The Tower of Ishmal is the first few chapters of.  The last sequence kept dragging on forever, and I needed a break, so I gave myself permission to take a few weeks off and write a short story about a female elf thief named Lyra, the thieves’ guild she runs, and her druid friend Bambi.  The story just kept going, and I ended up with a novel of over 120,000 words.  WHOOPS.  It still needs some serious editing, and I need to go back and do a lot of worldbuilding (mostly giving things names and precisely nailing down the magic system and ensuring the magic in the book all conforms), but the first draft is one of the biggest projects I’ve ever finished and I’m excited to give it some serious work and see how it turns out in the end.
  • I ignored editing The Tower of Ishmal story.  I printed it out for editing on the 21st of January, 2012, decided to let it sit for a bit, and then never actually got out my red pen.  Cue today.  I sat down at my desk, got out my red pen, put on some music, and went over the whole thing.  I’m still very happy with the core of the story, but finding various grammatical mistakes, adding a few sentences here and there, and massaging word choice and several other bits of diction were all necessary steps.  Plus, I’m hoping to submit it for publication and as part of my portfolio for the Clarion West writer’s program, so editing is an essential thing.  I’m going to give it at least one more pass before it’s ready, but getting this first editing job done was a nice first step into the “oh, wait, I want to be a real writer and that means lots of self-done editing” world.
  • I also started writing 1000 words per day.  While I don’t think I actually hit 365,000, as was my goal, due to missed days, vacations, family, and the like, I definitely broke 200,000 words written this year, and that’s not too shabby at all.  I’m hoping to be more consistent next year, but I’ll still take this as a good sign.
  • I interned over at Atari for the summer as a production intern, which taught me a lot about the video games industry, both good and not-so-good.  It was an invaluable learning experience, and has helped me figure out more clearly where I want to go and life and why.  Plus, I got to learn what a perfect hell it is commuting from Orange County to LA every day!  Protip: don’t ever do that.  Although it should say something that I enjoyed the job so much I didn’t mind much.
  • And, last but not least, I ran the first playtest campaign of Nautilus.  It was still based on Buy the Numbers at this point, and didn’t have a ton of new content that wasn’t in d20 Future, but it gave me a feel for what worked and what didn’t, pointing out several glaring flaws in the system while still reassuring me that the core world is one that people will enjoy exploring.  Patrick and I have also been working hard on the next draft, and I think we’re making things a lot more intuitive and fun, and tearing out a lot of d20 base things that bog down the game.  Incidentally, this means that every player in my campaign will have to respec their characters for the next beta, but that’s a small price to pay for a system where they will have a lot more fun.

There were probably more things that happened, but those all stick out in my mind from a writing and game development perspective.

And now, looking on towards the future, here’s the plan for 2013.  I might post actual new year’s resolutions tomorrow, but these are the broad strokes of what I hope happens, resolutions or not:

Plans for 2013

  • Write more.  Especially since NaNoWriMo, I haven’t done much writing due to the December perfect storm of travel, finals, and holidays.  I realize these are weak excuses!  Another big piece of it was finally giving myself permission to leave behind my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel until I can go back and do some significant worldbuilding, and possibly an outline for the rest of the plot (and rewrite what I’ve done so far).  I liked the core ideas, but the execution was leaving a lot to be desired and bailing out a sinking ship while rowing it just doesn’t seem worth it compared to bringing it back to dry dock and working on it for a while on the side before reattempting the voyage.  I’ll instead be focusing on finishing other novels (editing the Lyra story, finishing up the prequel to The Tower of Ishmal and possibly the novel Ishmal is a part of) and writing short stories for submissions to magazines.  I will definitely be writing more substantial short stories after that prequel novel is done, both for my Clarion portfolio and to try and get several stories out for submission to various magazines at once.  I feel that publication in short story magazines (like Asimov’s or Fireside, although Fireside isn’t taking more submissions for a while) will help cement me as a writer, both in my brain and out there in the larger world.  Plus it would be nice to have other people see my work.  (And, more selfishly, to get paid for something I’ve written.)  I will also be attempting to actually hit that 1,000 words of fiction per day (on average, aka I can write 0 words one day if I write 2000 the next), with my good start this last year bolstering my confidence that I can get it done this year.
  • Finish Nautilus — I realize that Nautilus may not get a chance to hit book form by the end of the year, but I’d love for it to be text-complete by the summer, or close to it.  It’s a big, important project to me, but I want to be able to see it out there for people to play and enjoy and give feedback on.  And that means passing out beta PDFs, running it at conventions, and (hopefully!) getting it ready for publication with art, layout, etc.  I don’t want this to turn into one of those projects that ends up in development hell, being dilly-dallied on for years.  Better for things to get finished than to rot forever on the back burner.
  • Develop a more active internet presence — This is one of those things I’ve always meant to do but haven’t had any luck with.  I’m naturally an introverted person, so I tend not to share my opinions or think that people will bother to respond to me.  But this is the internet!  I figure it’s better to speak my mind and hope for the best than sit in silence and disappear.  Plus I’d like to help out people whose work I like where I can, be it by leaving reviews, spreading the word about their projects, etc (inspired by Fred Hicks’s excellent “No Silent Fan” post).  I figure if I keep talking, I’ll eventually meet some like-minded people and hopefully this will develop into opportunities for friendship and collaboration.
  • Figure out an exercise routine that works a little better for me.  I already am fairly consistent with working out, but there’s a few things that need to be tweaked (I need to find a strength training routine that I both enjoy and gets the results I would like, for example.)
  • Put more work out there — My greatest weakness is not showing more things as I’m working on them, or posting content that I’ve done that’s smaller in scope.  So I figure by posting more short stories, blog posts, Nautilus development work, and other things, I can give you all a reason to come back and talk and get myself to finish more things to the point they’re ready for public consumption.  Win-win.
  • Last, sticking to more of my plans.  It’s a general human weakness that we fall away from plans, especially those that require constant effort over the long term, but having a plan and sticking to it (with some inbuilt flexibility, but no falling off the wagon, so to speak) has helped me to improve my life quite a bit and get more done.  So I’m going to aim to plan out more things and stick to the deadlines I set, whether it’s just a to-do list every day in the morning to get my thoughts and tasks for the day together or longer-term goals like those in this post.

Oh dear, I appear to have rambled on a bit.  Sorry about that!  I hope at least someone found this interesting.  How about you?  What happened in 2012, good and bad, and what are your plans for 2013?  Do share!  I’d love to hear from you.

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