2020: The End of the Beginning

In three days it’s going to be not just a new year but a new decade. I’m going to be 30 next year (*shudders*), and so this New Year feels more landmark than usual, and new years always make me maudlin and retrospective.

I began the decade failing out of one university and I’ve ended it having dropped out of another. I’ve gone precisely nowhere or at least that’s how it feels. I suppose I could reframe it and say that I’ve had a few false starts which have been learning experiences. For instance I now know for certain that higher education doesn’t suit me.

The last few years broke me to be honest, My mental health was bad to begin with, I had a breakdown in 2011 and if anything got steadily worse over the next few years. Returning to uni was my desperate attempt to make a change, the old cliche “if you don’t like your life, then change it”. However, it was a bad move. My depression, anxiety and general stress levels which were already high have gone through the roof. My confidence was always very low but it’s now absolutely destroyed. I’m utterly terrified pretty much all the time.

That’s why I titled this post ‘the end of the beginning’ because if there’s rock-bottom then this is it. Yes I have a past but I really am starting again – something else which adds to the landmark feeling of this New Years. It really is the close of one chapter and I’m trying very hard to think of what’s coming next as the start of something new, hopefully something better.

The Past
In December 2015 I indie-published a novel, first in a crime/sci-fi series, but when I came to write the second book I stalled. Ultimately I unpublished and gave up that series and decided to write another, this time a Military Science Fantasy series. I thought that I had learned from my first attempt and I had the second book with editors when I launched book one in September 2016, and then followed up with publishing book two in December.

Perhaps if my personal life hadn’t exploded in November 2016 this post would be very different, maybe I would have been able to write book three and the rest as they say would be history. However, my mum got cancer (just the word makes me feel sick) and she met a new partner and he was moved in within a month (they were married within six months) which was a lot to deal with. Thankfully one surgery sorted mum out and she’s fine but I don’t cope with change very well and I basically gave up my writing dream. I applied to university and started attending September 2017 (and I’ve already said how that ended).

From April 2016 until November 2016 I wrote 50k+ every month. Most of that was fanfic because my imagination was on fire. I felt then (and still do now) that a lot of it can be adapted, expanded and improved to make for original stories. I call those fanfics ‘draft zero’ so I don’t consider it wasted time. In fact I’m nostalgic for that time, the memory of it is bittersweet, because I miss being that productive. Being productive makes me feel better and I’ve not had that since.

In fact my word counts for 2017, 2018 and 2019 could easily be contained within a single month of 2016, as the totals have been practically non-existent.

The Present
I suppose you could say I’m following the cliche “if you’re not happy with your life, then change it” once more. Like I said above I tried to do that when I went back to uni, and now I’m going it again by quitting. The decision was hard to reach because I had sunk two years, and a lot of money into going, but ultimately there was no way I would manage another two years. I have drawn the line and it’s time to move on from there.

In terms of writing. I took advantage of the NaNo discount code + 2020 bundle to get a years subscription to 4thewords for a good price. I haven’t used it much yet (I should have waited as the offer was good until January but I’m impatient) but I intend to use it everyday next year. My aim is to maintain the 444 word streak on the site.

I have also jumped headfirst into joining WriYe, a year-round writing community. I had joined the forum a couple of years back but shied away from making the commitment. This year in the spirit of doing my best I have attempted to ignore my fear and forged ahead regardless. There’s a blog circle and I’m going to link this post for January so I’m just going to answer the specific questions for that.

The Future
What’s your WriYe word count goal for 2020? Why did you choose it?

I went for 150,000 as my goal because that is two novel drafts (of approx 75k each), it is less than the 444 words a day required for 4thewords because it won’t be possible to do first draft everyday. For 4thewords I’ll be allowing planning but for the WriYe goal that is just pure fiction.

If I’m honest I secretly want a lot more than 150k. I yearn for the days when I did 50k+ a month and if I can whip my butt into gear and start doing that I’ll be a lot happier. However I have a long history of trying to run before I can walk. The 150k was my attempt to be sensible and realistic.

What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
I have a lot of plans, as detailed in my progress thread on the WriYe forums. Wearing my sensible hat I want to be consistent with my writing, maintaining the 4thewords streak to make incremental progress everyday. I want a couple of drafts by the end of the year – I want to feel like I made progress ultimately!

Again to be 100% here I want to make a giant leap forward, not baby steps. I want to get sorted and have a plan and a production schedule and then several months of sticking to it. Like I said above I really want to massively ramp up my output. I know how rusty I am and that everything I write to begin with is going to be even more shit than normal. However I’m not going to get past that and write anything ever potentially decent if I don’t forge on.

Money is an issue. I don’t know if I’m going to have any and that is a massive worry. It also affects any publishing plans I have. I want to produce a quality product so when I indie-published in the past I paid out for a beta reader, an editor and covers. Right now I don’t know if I’ll be able to pay my bills past the end of the month so any kind of expenditure is off the table. I would love to publish in 2020 but even if I have the writing ready, I’m not going to have the money for outside help and I know from bitter experience how essential at least one extra set of eyes is. There is no way I’m going to publish without at least a beta reader. So publishing is out until 2021 at the earliest which I guess takes the pressure off and will hopefully give me time to get it right – third times the charm right?

(I’m going to ignore the bonus question)

Drawing!
Outside writing learning to draw is my next biggest goal. It’s something I decided I wanted to do a few years back but the last few years didn’t leave me any spoons left to write, let alone to do anything else. Just like with writing I’m starting from scratch in many respects – so where do I want to go from here?

I declared on my WriYe progress thread that I want to do a drawing a month and complete the ‘How to Draw the Marvel Way’ course that I was given ages ago. It’s not a complete set, just about 30 issues I think of the magazine that my mum found on eBay, but that’s still a lot of exercises and it’ll be good practice I hope.

I have also finally pinpointed the art style that I wish to master first. Up until now I’ve followed tutorials and quite often ended up with a mess as the faces will be painted but the bodies still have lines – and don’t even mention backgrounds! I suppose I want to be able to draw realistically (so no lines) but I also want to draw comics and I really can’t do both of those things at once.

by @denimcatfish on tumblr (NOT BY ME!)

This ^^ is the art style I want to be able to produce. If I can get any of my drawings to look even close to this good by the end of 2020 I’ll be thrilled. I used to do monthly status posts on tumblr and list my goals for the upcoming month, I prefaced it by saying “I can’t hit a target if I can’t see it” – well this drawing above is now my target.

In conclusion
The past decade sucked. I’m ten years older but I’ve accomplished nothing and that scares me. Nailing my colours to the mast I guess I’m saying that in 2020 I intend to move forward with my writing, with the goal to being in a position to start publishing in 2021, and I also want to leap forward with my drawing if I can. I do worry that both writing and drawing require an element of talent and I’m scared I don’t have it. I really am frightened that I won’t be able to produce anything that is ever good enough. Some days that fear will stop me from trying but I hope 2020 has a fair few days where I do manage to persist.

It’s going to a brand new decade. I really hope it’s better than the last one.

1 thought on “2020: The End of the Beginning

  1. I’m glad you’ve re-formulated a way to look at your future! I think you’ll be very successful in your writing and drawing goals. I will secretly cheer for you to blow 150K out of the water 😉

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