Writing resolutions 2014: a review

So, looking back at my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014, how have I done?

1. Finish Changing Winds Part 2 and, as a stretch goal, finish Empty Skies. Officially, this would be “Finish the Green Sky series” but as two of the books are still quite vague, I’m not going to commit myself to finishing them.

2014: Yes to Changing Winds Part 2 (now re-titled High Flight & Flames); Empty Skies is ongoing, but the rest of the series has catapulted! So I consider this done and ongoing, and it will go into my 2015 resolutions.

2. Finish re-writing Shadows (which is sort of a get-this-done-in-January aim) and re-write Ghosts to fit in with what is now happening in Shadows. Ideally, I want this done by Easter.

2014: Noooo…I may get some time to work on this over the next few days, but my head hasn’t been in the right place for this at all. It is something that I want to get finished, but it’s definitely on the back burner at the moment.

3. Madcap Library: get some pictures done (ok, maybe that translated as “nag my illustrator”) and self-publish at least the first few. Again, Easter is a nice goal for that.

2014: Madcap Library itself has been shelved, but Duster is springing into action! My lovely illustrator and I have been asked to submit a children’s illustrated story to a publisher, so I’m working on that at the moment, and we’ll see where that goes…

4. Continue on the road to official publication. At the moment this consists of nagging Grimbold and sending out more letters, but I’m sure the to-do list will change as the year goes on.

2014: I am now officially signed to Grimbold Books, and Green Sky & Sparks is scheduled for release as an e-book in Summer 2015, with Grey Stone & Steel and High Flight & Flames in the months after that. I have a cover for Green Sky and Ken’s working on the next two, and I’m currently doing the proof corrections for all three…so it’s all ongoing!

5. And my stretch goals: finish some of my other writing. I’ve got Star’s Back and Connections to work on as full novels, as well as short stories to write for anything that looks interesting.

2014: Well, this took a bit of an unexpected turn. A lot of the other writing I’ve done has been focused around the Dresden Files RPG that I’ve been playing (possibly around 50,000 words – if not more – of writing…) and it has provided a really interesting challenge for me. This is something that I will be continuing into the New Year. As regards other writing, I haven’t done a lot, but then I am happy with what I have been doing!

I’ve also expanded my editing and proofreading skills, which has been nice. I’ve been reading other’s writing, critiquing and editing, and it’s been brilliant for me to be able to see what is wrong with something and point out how it can be made better. I’m currently encouraging a few writers (which I admit mostly consists of “get bloody on with it!”) and receiving encouragement in turn. I suppose this could be classed as “engaging with the writing community” – albeit in limited form – but it’s wonderful to be able to help people as well as read new writing.

Overall: I think I’ve had a pretty successful writing year! I got NaNoWriMo done to my satisfaction, the Green Sky series has run away with me and is going to be published, the Sloth’s going to take over my life for a few days in the near future (there may be manic giggling at his antics) and I’ve had a really good challenge in the form of the RPG writing.

So – onwards and upwards to 2015! I’m going to do a separate post with 2015 resolutions, so keep an eye out over the next few weeks for that.

On darker emotions

Most of the time, I write my characters from the heart. And sometimes, that can cause problems…or provide solutions.

I’m generally a fairly happy person; I’m usually upbeat, prone to logic and even temper, and I have a sense of fairness that I apply to myself as much as others. I think a lot of my character comes out in my writing; I find it hard to find motivations for the darker emotions, because I don’t understand them very well. I can write them, but I often feel that they’re simply studies, or I’ve said to myself, “I need to add hatred in here…” as if I have a checklist. Even my murderer is just a guess at the emotion that lies behind it; the character is based on someone, true, but only what I saw on the surface. The dark side isn’t something that comes from the heart as many of my other characters do.

But one of my characters is starting to write herself, and she’s bitter, sarcastic, and jealous. She’s scared of losing face, and of losing someone that she can control; she sees people in the light of their use to her, and only tolerates stupidity or mistakes as a foil to making herself look better. She smiles insincerely, enjoys finding weaknesses and then manipulating them, and has a desperate, burning flame of hatred and fear. And I know exactly where she’s come from.

I’ve had a lot of the darker emotions rolling around inside in the past few months, which hasn’t been very pleasant for me. Jealousy and envy aren’t nice things to feel, especially when you know they aren’t justified. Anger, rage and frustration are hard to let go of when you can’t directly confront the situations causing them. Pride does go before a fall, and arrogance and vanity aren’t usually part of my make-up; the inflated sense of self-worth that goes with them doesn’t do anything good. The need to control and sense of ownership over other people might come from fear and loneliness, but that’s not what comes out to those people or to the world. The tangle of darker feelings is not who I want to be, and not how I want myself to be seen; that’s another form of vanity, but one that (I hope) has better motives than the usual beauty-brigade. And it means that when I feel bitter, jealous, envious, the logical side of me wins, and they usually stay inside.

So in many ways it’s nice to let go of some of that buried emotion, and be able to write it all out. By giving Hex all the frustration and spite and bitterness that her character would display, in some way I’m letting go of my own darker side. She’s not reacting in a way that I would, of course, and I hate her even as I write her; I don’t like what she’s doing, even though I can see where it’s coming from. But it’s drawing on a side of me that I don’t normally use, and it’s oddly satisfying to be able to display it. And, ultimately, I think it makes my writing better. I am writing well-rounded characters; I am teaching myself to write something that I wouldn’t be able to. I am using the darker emotions in an outlet where they are harmless, and at the same time, bringing a character to life.

At any rate, it’s cathartic – and cheaper than therapy!