Traditionally amongst my friends, we get to the end of the year and say “well that was a shit year.” Except, for me at least, 2012 wasn’t. It was a good year, a great year even, especially given the year before. Even when you ignore the fact that 2011 was Shytus Maximus, 2012 will go down as one of the best.
The start of 2012 saw me looking for a new day job (and the job market hasn’t exactly been great these past couple of years)and trying to place the book. I was working on another novel but had just stopped. At the time I felt frustrated that I wasn’t writing properly, that I should just write it and then fix it later. As I’ve discovered a halt usually means a fault that needs fixing before I can proceed. I’m still discovering my own process but need to learn to trust my gut instinct.
Around the time of SFX Weekender I landed a day job interview, and got the job shortly after. As day jobs go, I love it. Great work colleagues and a good working environment mean that long after the honeymoon period should have passed, I am still enjoying it.
With that hurdle out the way, I moved a few weeks later. This meant packing up most of my stuff into storage, moving into a single room and sharing a house with someone for the first time in nearly a decade. I would be lieing if I said it wasn’t stressful to do but now it’s done it’s worked out easier than I feared.
I tried to start another novel around that time, but again something was missing and I ground to a halt with a realisation… the book I wanted to write, the book that was in my heart, was the sequel to the Four Realms. I came to the conclusion that even if I never sold The Four Realms, I needed to write that book. So I ended up restarting some work on it around the same time as I sent the manuscript of the first book to Anarchy. If I’m honest, I expected rejection.
The spring also saw me get some writing gigs. Project Llama saw a lot of work over the summer and will one day be revealed to all. And then there were spots on Fantasy-Faction and GPSTracklog.
The summer was a hive of writing as the first word back from Anarchy was the manuscript seemed good. For June, July and August it felt like that I was holding my breath.
And then it was a “yes” and my life went crazy as I set about working to bring The Four Realms to the masses. In between I found some time for book 2 – a week long course in Birmingham being a Godsend for word count until a combination of a structural problem with the novel and the need to promote The Four Realms stopped me.
And so the end of 2012 sees me living somewhere else, in a new job having achieved my life long dream of being an author.
I’d say that makes it a pretty good year.
The thing I learned that really surprised was just how much I knew what I was doing as an author. Since signing contracts there have been countless occasions where something has reared its head that’s made me say, “I know how to deal with that.” The vast majority of it comes from the experience of running Action-Figure. But whilst I had suspected that experience would help me, I’m genuinely shocked at how much it has.
With it my confidence has grown immensely (although I am cautious against arrogance) and I find being a published author much easier than being an aspiring one because of it. I’d always felt a discomfort at being an aspiring writer – it was like an ill-fitting suit. Perhaps it was the weight of all I had given up to write that weighed heavy on me, but I didn’t feel like me. Now as a published author, I feel like me again.
It doesn’t matter if The Four Realms only makes it into triple digit sales, or if only two people visit my blog. A-F started small (I remember my excitement at hitting 70 page impressions one day) and so is my writing career. I have realistic expectations of what I want to achieve and experience has told me that those expectations are completely doable.
That’s not to say I have all the answers. I am acutely aware of areas of weakness in my writing, but I’m also aware, for the first time, of strengths. The plan is simply to play to my strengths and work on my weaknesses.
I also need to be much better at organising my time. For the last month I’ve been working on promotion and considering I’m small press I don’t think I’ve done a bad job (I’m very pleased with what I’ve accomplished). However, that’s come at the expense of writing. I am very aware I need to be better at balancing these conflicting demands.
It would also be nice if I could get better at understanding my own work so I could pitch it better, however, I suspect this is a weakness that would need a miracle to cure.
So I go into 2013 with an amazing amount of clarity. I’m sure things will come along that test it, but I seem to have found the focus I felt I’d lost for good when I gave up the website. 2012 proved to me, as corny as it sounds, that dreams can come true and that lightening can strike twice. I hope 2013 will prove it to others.