I thought it might be good to do a year-end roundup regarding writing, now that nearly all the holiday fuss is done with (including finally getting Younger Son and his girlfriend home yesterday, a full day later than they were supposed to arrive, how dare there be snow in Frankfurt in December).
So, let's divide this up:Fanfic.
I've enjoyed doing the fanfic end-of-year memes
for the last several years, but it would be stupid to do one for this year, since I posted a total of three fics (two Person of Interest, one Lost) all in January. It's not even possible to call this a cyclical writing drought, because really 2011-2013 was a new explosion of fic-writing for me, due to not being caught up in writing books, and this year I wasn't even writing a book, so I don't know what's going on exactly, but I hope 2015 will bring more writing of both sorts (well, I must get the book written, but perhaps there will be leftover energy for fic). I had new fandoms this year, and continued interest in previous ones, but just no inspiration for putting down words about them. It may be that I have a hard time switching between writing mode and editing/publishing mode, and clearly I was in the throes of the latter all year. So we'll see.
Thanks to new people coming into fandoms, though, I still get a kudos email nearly every day, and occasional comments, which is nice. Mostly POI (despite canon-outdatedness), with some Vorkosiverse flurries, and rare but appreciated hits on the others. So at least I have stats to report. ( under the cut because stats )
Yet again I did not participate in Yuletide (even in good fic-writing years the final months are not productive for me) and was smart enough not to take on any other exchanges or challenges; it just would have meant failure. I also failed at fulfilling previous commitments, but someday, philomytha
, I really am going to finish that Alys/Simon-at-the-Orb story still lingering on my hard drive. I do think about it occasionally, I promise! - but nothing inspiring jumps out at me.
I'm not reading
as much fanfic, either; the two seem to go together.Waters of Time Series.
I just got through my first year as a self-published author, and I have learned a lot. Particularly about formatting, it seems. I just did the painful thing and trashed (well, recycled, since I am environmentally sensitive and all) the various misprinted/typo-filled hard copies that I stupidly paid money to have printed and shipped to me (authors don't pay for content but do have to pay CreateSpace's costs), and I still regularly have little panic attacks over people reading inferior editions. Turns out I am weirdly sensitive to this: hopefully much more so than my readers. But I think I know most of the necessary Word tricks now (in time to forget them before next November when Not Time's Fool
comes out) and I have learned a whole new skill in cover creation, moderately well.
I'm also on my way to learning the sort of patience and tolerance that publication of original fiction should teach, particularly as opposed to fanfic, which (not always but often) has the goal of providing speedy gratification to both readers and writers. I had a comment recently on "Children of an Idle Brain" that irked me in a particular way illustrative of my feelings about fannish entitlement; it wasn't all that different from other comments I've received, but the way the commenter said (nagged, perhaps) "I don't like to see Root and Shaw together in any way" just made me want to yell back "Well, did I ask your permission?" (Of course I didn't yell; I was very polite and thanked them for telling me that there were some nuggets to be admired in all the crazy dream-writing and ill-advised proto-shipping.) Aside from the occasional gift story, I don't write fic to other people's specifications but to please myself, though of course I appreciate that others enjoy the results. But the culture seems to assume otherwise; the number of people who have essentially told me that all
my stories should be "The Rest Is Silence" is… well, irritating.
Anyway, writing for money is a bit of a different game, but I basically have the same philosophy: I write what pleases me, though with the goal of pleasing others too, and I try to accept that some readers won't like what I write. Though it's nice when the majority do, as appears to be the case so far. Reviews are great, by the way, whether they are positive or negative; those inclined to say positive things are of course particularly urged to get them down in writing, just saying.
So, I have made what's probably a reasonable though not staggering number of sales for the first year and three books; most of the people I've heard from who read the first book have kept going through the second and at least intend to read the third, though I haven't heard back yet from anyone who's finished it (it is, indeed, very long). Aside from the panic attacks, I'm finding that I enjoy knowing my words and characters are out there and making an impact on readers. I've fielded compliments (and a few critiques) and I'm enjoying writing things on the author blog (and know a few people are reading them). Keeping the marketing bandwagon moving is far more tiring than any aspect of actual writing, and I'm not very good at it yet, but I think this is pretty much still the word-of-mouth stage anyway. I don't actually know everyone who's reading my books, which is kind of cool, even if many of those I don't know are friends of my mother.
I'm still disappointed in the apparent lack of response/sales among the fannish community - many of you who are long-term friends have bought and read, thank you! but it's very hard to spread the word through Tumblr or AO3 or even DW/LJ, and I think the aforementioned fanfic entitlement/gratification culture does not bode well for sales even if I can make the hedda62
/Erica H. Smith connection in people's minds. Why, after all, should you pay for (long) books about characters you don't know when you can go read stories for free about characters you do know, by the same author or not? I may yet be surprised by procrastinators or a slow spread of awareness, but in the meanwhile there are the Real Life Friends who are unexpectedly kind and enthusiastic and surprisingly don't mind all the trauma I inflict on George and Olivia and cohorts, although the literal cat-bashing was not well received.
My current to-do list is heavy on the GET STARTED WRITING BOOK FIVE DAMMIT elements, so expect some updates in that regard soon. And who knows, maybe some more fanfic someday as well.
Happy New Year!