writing life

2020 Hindsight

One last post for the year, looking back on a year that didn’t quite go the way anyone hoped or planned.

At this time last year, I was looking up activities and groups, making plans to get out there and do the things I enjoy doing but never seem to get around to doing and to meet other people who do those things. I got a good start to the year by going on a group hike at a state park on New Year’s Day, then I went to a Sisters in Crime meeting in February as part of my effort to find a good writing support group.

And then a couple of weeks later, everything came to a screeching halt. There would be no more meetings or group activities.

I’m pretty much built for lockdowns. In some respects, it took some pressure off me. There were no obligatory gatherings that I went to reluctantly, no rehearsals or meetings. I sometimes missed socializing, and I wished I could do more of the kind of socializing I’d prefer to do (something else I was planning to make more of an effort for), but for the most part, holing up inside my house is my comfort zone.

I think I used the time pretty well. I took a few online courses, attended a lot of online lectures, and started learning Norwegian (in case we can ever travel again and I can take my dream trip). I wrote two books start to finish, revised another and did a final round of editing on another. I released three new print books and two audio books. I also did a lot of the work toward developing a new book that I plan to write next year.

Unfortunately, all those new releases didn’t add up to much, financially. People seem to like my new series, but not very many people are buying it. I’m hoping that with each release the word will spread and more people will find it, and I’m going to try some new promo things around the release of book 3. If it doesn’t catch on, I may have to rethink that series. Right now, I’m not making minimum wage with it. But I figured it was worth a shot, and I learned a lot about writing productivity from it. I broke my personal record for time spent on writing activities this year.

Oh, and I had my first short story sale, took on a new volunteer role, and got a new freelance client. I guess it was a busy year, considering I seldom left the house.

Meanwhile, I also broke my personal record for number of books read this year. I just about gave up TV, since there wasn’t much on, and I spent that time reading instead. By the end of the year, I’ll have read at least 112 books, depending on how much I read in the next couple of days. It’s cold and rainy, so I’m planning a big reading binge.

I’m pretty much at the bottom of the vaccine priority list, since I can safely isolate and am not in the really high-risk groups (I just have a lot of conditions that are considered possible moderate risk), so I don’t see things changing too much for the first half of next year. I’ll be releasing book 3 in the mystery series next month. I’ll probably do an e-book/print version of that Audible exclusive book. I want to get started on that fantasy series I’ve been developing.

With that in mind, my main plan for January is to do a deep dive into “traditional” fantasy. That was what I first fell in love with that made me want to be a writer and what my first stabs at writing were in, though I haven’t published anything like that. I plan to reread The Lord of the Rings for the first time since I was in college and try to figure out what it was that so enthralled me when I first read it in sixth grade. Then I’ll branch out to some of the newer stuff. I may enhance the experience with appropriate food and drink. At the same time, I’ll be digging into the more specific worldbuilding and plotting for my series.

I don’t think I’m going to make real resolutions this year. I just want to build on what I started this year, working on good habits and consistency. And I hope I get a bit more payoff from the previous work.

Happy New Year, and see you in 2021!

One Response to “2020 Hindsight”

  1. Christine Amaryllis Dollins

    Dear Ms. Shanna,
    Love your books!! I own them all in paper.
    I recently read a poet named Nikita Gill, who reimagines myths. You might like her as you delve into fantasy. The book is Great Goddesses.
    I wish you a peaceful 2021.
    Your fan girl,
    Christine Amaryllis

    reply

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