A Look Back at My Year in Writing—2016

2016 was a pretty good year for my fiction writing. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. This post follows an annual tradition: it’s the one time in the year where I look back at what I said I wanted to do way back at the start of the year and see how I did. It will also look at other things I accomplished. So, here we go.


1. I Didn’t Go to Any Cons.Pushkin Writing
This was bit of a fumble. I wanted  to go to two Cons (you know, those assemblages where fans and creatives get together and talk), but I didn’t even make it to one! Well, it was a crazy year. I moved to a new place, work was hectic—and oh yeah!—there was  all that fiction writing to do. So, this didn’t happen. I will definitely try to make up for it—penance, penance—in 2017.

2. Blog Changes
I did get the blog headed where I wanted it to go. The posts are regular, but short and telegraphic when they need to be. I’ve also blogged a little bit about subjects that aren’t writing- or art-related. So, little steps. Little, good steps.

3. I Wrote What I Wanted
Hell yeah. This was probably my biggest breakthrough this year. Early last year, I just thought, “To hell with it, I’m going to write what I want to write.” And I’m glad to report I have. Regardless of marketability or clear genres or even common sense—I just dove in. I wrote those stories which were “burning in my belly” like Halberstam said. I finished a South American gothic horror fantasy, wrote a comedic play with a medieval setting and started a piece of flash fiction for crying out loud. Me! Flash fiction! A style which I swore I would never write in. But an idea came to me in the airport, I fired up my laptop and in 30 minutes later it was done.

And I brought it all back home with a story featuring the protagonist of The Ghul of Yazd—Yusuf ibn-Yaqzan. They’re all very different pieces, but they have a common thread. They’re EXACTLY the pieces I wanted to be writing when I took them up. And that has made all the difference.

4. I Saw my First “Literary” Fiction Piece Get Published
This year was the third time I had a piece of mine get published traditionally (i.e. by a third party publisher/magazine). Well, that felt good. And any year when you get something (anything) published is a good year. It also marks the first time I had a work published anywhere which had NO supernatural  elements. It was “literary fiction,” you could say. Anyway, it was exciting to see it in print.

5. I Wrote my First Play
This was also the first year in which I dipped my toe in a very, very difficult new style: I wrote a play. I still think it has flaws, but I was  able to keep it together, write five acts and have some consistency in plot, character, setting, etc. I’ve been shopping it around, but must admit I’m finding it rough going since I have to learn a whole new way of putting forward the piece. No emails sent to distant lands without a second thought. (And I get a lingering sense that I may not be enough of an extrovert to be a good playwright. All that dealing with playhouses and working through the script with total strangers—ugh!). But I wrote what I wanted and—damn it!—It was fun!

6. I Felt My Writing Improve
Now, it can be hard to judge your own stuff. I realize that. We always think our own works are the best. It’s a human weakness. But I do feel that the preparation, the thinking behind them and the outcome of my works improved this year. I would definitely say—to get a bit down in the weeds—that my plotting improved. I have struggled with that aspect MIGHTILY in the past. It’s very difficult to do the right amount of planning. Plan too little and the story fly off the rails. Plan too much and you risk not allowing your characters to breath and  live—and the whole project comes off as flat and sterile. I’m finally starting to zero in on a happy medium where I plan just enough to keep the whole thing moving and alive, but within the proper constraints. It was gratifying to see that change in my pieces this year.


So, all in all, it was a pretty good year in fiction writing. I will see you guys in a couple of weeks, where I’ll post a bit about my plans for 2017. I’m looking forward to another year of writing fiction.

My Writing Life in 2016

Whew. Is it 2016 already? Man, time flies. So, let’s get right down to it. What are my plans for writing this year? Here they are, broken down into some bite-size chunks. As always, these goals are realistic and “Epictetusian” (not relying on others or outside influences to be accomplished. For example the goal: “Get 2 of My Stories Published” doesn’t cut it.).

1. Go to 2 Cons.londoncitybar 2
My plan last year to go to three Cons, alas, was too ambitious. This year I’m hoping to go to two. One down south, and one up north. I usually go to RavenCon, but would also like to go to one up north (maybe in Philadelphia?). I’ll keep you guys posted on where I decide to go.

2. Blog Changes
Life is short, art is long. So, in that spirit, going to make a couple of changes to ye olde blog this year. I’m going to be changing two things.

First, I will be writing shorter, telegraphic posts. Just updates on my writing or random thoughts on stuff. This means that some of my longer-form blog posts will become less frequent (stuff like Rare B Sides and The Craft will become fewer and further between), but not necessarily go away.

Second, I want to write about more than just writing fiction. That will remain the focus of the blog. But I feel I want to pull back the lens a bit, show more of the general landscape. Though we’re introverts, writers are also products of their time and place and have to deal with other human beings, like it or not. Grappling with their particular time and place has also produced some great writing. So what does it mean for this blog? It means I might write on modern art, then on Turkish politics before switching back to a post on writing fiction. I want to make sure the blog stays fun to write and doesn’t go stale and I think pulling out the lens will help do this.

3. Write What I Want.
I made big progress on this last year. I’m writing a piece right now that I really love, although I know it has dubious marketing potential (kinda like most of my stuff, actually). It’s increasingly and vitally important to me to write stuff I want to write. I think I had this backwards before, writing stuff I wanted to write, but that had to have a marketing/publishing/genre angle. I’m done with that now. I’m at peace. I realize my stuff will be very hard to cram into a genre. That it’s not really literary fiction. Or speculative fiction…or science fiction…Or horror…or fantasy. It touches on all those genres and is influenced by all of them, but doesn’t partake in any of them, per se. And I’m totally fine with that…I’m going to keep writing what I want—regardless of length, genre or subject matter—Marketers be damned.


There. Is that better?

Oh! And Happy New Year, Everyone! I wish you all health, happiness and some serious accomplishments in 2016!

Until Next Time,

Darius

By the way, that shot up there is of the “London City” café/bar in Buenos Aires. If I could write anywhere in the world, it would probably be there. I like to imagine I’m sitting  there in downtown Buenos Aires watching all the people go by, when I’m writing in my local Starbucks…I can dream, can’t I?