2018: By the Numbers

Oof, 2018.

So many times this year, my wife and I looked at each other, reminiscing about something that happened to us, and said “was that really last week?”

I don’t know how a year can both feel like it’s whizzing by at 88 miles per hour, and be cramming in a month’s worth of events in every single week, but this one did.

So, to help me remember the sheer number of things that have happened this year, I’m going to set them all down. Well, as many as I can recall, anyway.

Writing

Since I started my new scoring system in February (which, again, thanks to Scott Sigler for sharing that with us at a Writers Coffeehouse), I’ve written 71,902 words.

Most of those were on the novel that I finished (finally!) in November. I did write one new short story, though, and edited four others.

I submitted just one story to three new markets, all of which rejected it.

Reading

Thanks to Goodreads’ singularly bad UI, I have no idea how many books I read in 2018. It’s something north of 20, but that’s all I know.

Personal

I moved not once, but twice, in 2018. First move was from rental to rental, second was to the house we bought in July.

Neither one was easy, though the second put a bigger dent in our finances, not least because we had to completely redo the upstairs flooring and master bath in order to move in.

Here’s hoping there’s no more moves for me in the near future.

Oh, I also started an exercise routine (walking 3/week, yoga 2/week) and taking French lessons through Babbel. But I’m holding off counting those “for real” until I either drop a pant size or can read an Asterix comic in the original (preferably both).

Travel

I also traveled…a lot. Maybe more than I should have.

February was the JoCo Cruise, March was WonderCon, May was San Francisco (work), June was Downtown LA, July was the move (yeah, I’m counting it twice), October was Ireland (work), November was Boston and DC, December was Seattle (work again).

Tbh, I’m looking forward to January through March, if only because I know I’ll be sleeping in my own bed that whole time.

2019

So what lessons can I draw from these figures?

First, when writing a first draft, I need to be more aggressive with my weekly writing goal. It felt like I wrote a lot more than just 70K words this year, and that’s probably a function of how long I was working on the same piece. If I were to maintain the 2,500 words a week pace I had at the end of the year, I’d double my output next year.

Second, I need to submit more. There’s really no reason to let a story that’s complete and edited sit on the shelf. I need to get back into the habit of sending a story out again as soon as it gets rejected. No more dithering.

Third, I need to stop using Goodreads. There’s just no excuse for an interface that’s that bad. And I’m fortunate enough to know how to build my own replacement, so that’s what I should do.

Finally, I might need to actually travel less. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it interrupts my writing work, and given I’m also working a full-time job that requires a lot of my brain’s meager capacity, I can’t afford to lose that time. Unless I can find a way to keep writing, even while traveling, I need to cut down.

2014 In Review

At the end of each year for the past five or so, I’ve written up a set of goals for the coming year. Not resolutions, or habits I want to establish that might help me achieve some vague goal, but concrete targets to aim for over the next twelve months.

Here’s what I wrote down as my goals for 2014:

  • Get 100 regular users for Rewryte.com
  • Find a permanent place to settle
  • Live abroad for the summer
  • Have one short story published
  • Post to the blog on a weekly basis
  • Keep the same job through the year
  • Open a retirement savings account
  • Learn Haskell

So with the year wrapping up, how did I do?

It’s a mixed bag: definite success for three of the goals, complete failure for the other five.

In the success column, we can put “find a permanent place to settle” (my wife and I bought a house in April), “post to the blog on a weekly basis” (with the exception of the holidays and NaNoWriMo, I’ve been posting thrice weekly for a good while now), and “keep the same job through the year” (I was developing a bad habit of switching companies every year or so, making our taxes more complicated and my resume look like I’d been playing employment hopscotch; this year I stayed with the same employer the whole way through).

I failed at everything else, though.

For a few, it was because my goals changed: rather than open a retirement account, we opted to payoff the credit card; instead of pushing for more users of rewryte.com, my business partner and I shuttered the site this summer to work on smaller projects.

Sometimes accomplishing one goal conflicted with another: buying a house meant we didn’t have the cash to try living abroad for the summer, and focusing on work-related skills while I stayed with my employer for the full year meant not spending time learning a new programming language (Haskell).

And for the last, I simply couldn’t do it. I submitted several short stories to be published, yielding a nice collection of rejection letters, but no sales.

So: 3/8 or, a 37.5% success rate. That’s a fine batting average, but doesn’t say much about my ability to set and accomplish goals.

Of course, not everything I ended up striving for is captured in that list: holding our monthly spending to a budget, winning NaNoWriMo, paying off the debt incurred from the sale of our previous house, taking ASL classes, taking cooking classes. So priorities shifted, and goals were pushed back or shelved.

Perhaps what this really reflects is poor judgement on my part at the beginning of the year about what will be important to me over the course of it?