2018 In Review

Taking a break from my holiday to do a year in review …

This was a weird year for me. I didn’t have anything new published, so it feels like nothing happened. But, really, a lot happened.

On the professional side, I had to take over all my self-published books. I’d been working with my agent on that, and then she decided to get out of that part of the business, so in order for the payments to come to me, everything had to be unpublished and republished, which took a fair bit of time and effort. Now I’m having to deal directly with the various vendors, like editors, artists, designers, etc., which means dealing with paperwork and other business stuff. So, basically I started a whole new business this year without planning to. Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time working on a book that I ended up backburnering. I love the concept, but I don’t think I wrote the book the concept deserves, and I need to get well away from what I did write before I can fix it without just tinkering with what I’ve written.

On the up side, I sold a short story and a novel that should be coming out in 2019. After a slow start to the year, writing wise, I ended the year by writing three books during the fall.

Then there was all the medical stuff that happened. I’ve been reasonably healthy except for seasonal allergies and maybe one bad cold that turns into bronchitis every year. While I was trying to republish all those books, I developed a splitting headache that I thought was just from the stress and focus, but it didn’t go away. I couldn’t even seem to sleep. When I took my blood pressure, it was high enough that the device blinked the “call your doctor” symbol. So I did. The doctor thought it was likely thyroid related, but my thyroid levels were normal. That led to an ultrasound that found nodules, which meant a biopsy, an MRI, and a bunch of other tests. Fortunately, the biopsy came back benign, and no cancer showed up on any of the tests or scans. They did find that I have a thyroid disease that’s not causing problems now but that I have to watch (and some reading I’ve done suggests that the symptoms I had may have been thyroid-related in spite of the tests being normal). Meanwhile, I got a good workover to see what other health problems I might have and found that I’m really quite healthy other than the thyroid stuff, though I am supposed to be watching my cholesterol (I kind of fell off the wagon during the holidays). All of that was time consuming and stressful, but I did end up with some peace of mind to have it confirmed that I’m healthy. It was after all that was past that I really picked up on my writing, so I hope I can continue that pace going forward.

The other big thing this year was that I got rid of cable TV. That may have something to do with how I read 105 books this year. I really cut back on my TV watching, and I have to say that I generally don’t miss cable. Just with Amazon, the antenna, and the stuff you can stream for free, I have more than enough stuff to watch. The only challenge is when it’s something specific you want to watch that’s only on cable. For instance, I haven’t yet seen the latest season of Doctor Who, but that ends up on Amazon eventually. I’m finding that I’m mostly watching documentaries and PBS-type programs and my attention span for passively watching is getting a lot shorter.

As for those 105 books, one thing that’s unusual this year is that only about 5 of them were re-reads, and they were mostly work-related re-reads, where I was reading them again because they related to something I was working on. I’m a big re-reader, so it’s odd for me to spend a year without re-reading things just because I love them. I’ve been trying to broaden my reading horizons, so I’ve been reading things I normally wouldn’t that are on award lists or that were handed out at conferences. That’s been a mixed bag. I was looking at my reading log, and there were a lot of books I barely remember reading (or don’t remember at all just by the title). There were a few things I remember looking forward to but was disappointed in when I read them. I have very few favorites from the year, books that stand out for me that I would want to read again. I read a lot of non-fiction, most of it at least semi-work related. Some was specifically book research. Some was general education that may factor into my work. I read a lot about productivity, focus, and creativity.

I think my big discovery of the year was Robin Hobb, who was new to me. I don’t know how I missed those books, but I’ve read two of her trilogies and have started a third. The two books I read this year that I would like to re-read were Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.

Now I plan to spend the rest of the day reorganizing my bookcases. We’ll see how long that lasts before I find myself sitting in front of the bookcase and reading.

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