Escapades Of A Fantasy Writer (2018 End Of Year Review)

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With the demise of another year, the fresh shoots of the next are preparing to spring forth while here in Mogador I linger in between Christmas and New Years. It’s a time to relax and reflect, a time to be eager for the new cycle of work that lies ahead.

As with most years, and for most people, it’s had its ups and downs. Trite to say it, but that’s the nature of the cosmos. Breath in, breath out, and while I certainly had a few rough patches with some serious stress and occasional moments of despair, the way to move forward is to focus on what has been achieved over a year, the challenges met and lessons learned even from the lowest ebb.

But above all, it’s to press on into an uncertain future with positivity!

bullet journal

More than anything, the past year has seen me start to work harder at achieving goals and overcoming obstacles. One of the best ways to focus my mind on this was to start using a very basic bullet journal for each working week.

With a series of tick boxes that listed what I needed to do, I jotted down and prioritised work: main novel, side projects, blog entries and dates, and finally a side page for open mic set lists and daily practice targets.

Getting organised has seen an improvement not only to finishing work for dead lines, but for seeing the progress of completion. It’s also great for making you feel that you are part of an ongoing process with a targeted goal.

Simple, but effective.

facing fears

I faced up to a few things this year. One was that I would have to get into social media, something that I was reluctant to do for similar reasons that underpinned playing open mic and publishing any of my work.

It was, all of it, rooted in some kind of insecurity about being judged, in those fears that make you feel like an imposter even to yourself. A kind of procrastination of the ego……

But starting with Facebook I put a foot forward, faced up to those fears and played an open mic and even published some stories. The end result was praise and feedback that kept the ball rolling.

social media & The BLOG express

As the months rolled on I upped the amount of social media work that I was doing, and although it’s been hard to keep the blog informative or entertaining, it has started to reap results. The hardest thing to accept as a newbie is how slow it can be to gather followers, but this is also a learning curve that only brings deeper understanding the longer I stick at it.

For the blog I certainly think you need to focus on what tags achieve the best results, and making sure that you have a title that attracts readers is something to work on.

Over on Facebook I tried a paid advert, and although I ‘reached’ quite a few people, I don’t think the appearance of the ad made people want to click on it. And in a world where people’s attention spans have been trained to process meme’s it might not prove the best platform for attracting readers. Still, got a plan for that.

The final reality of it all is that no matter how much a writer might be a damned hermit, we all got to step up and become social media guru’s if we want to get anywhere. Work hard, and put yourselves forward!

Published work

I didn’t achieve the goal of getting my novel published, something that I vowed in a blog post at the start of the year. However, the reality of it was that the closer I got to finishing, the more work there was to be done. With rewrites and polishing Red Star Rising got ever closer to completion. I’m sure that 2019 will see it flourish.

Meanwhile I did publish some short stories that were written surprisingly quickly yet still received acclaim. One kind reviewer from the fantasy writers forum had this to say about Irrevenant:

This is fantastic.  Your characterizations are superbly delivered, and the interplay between the different story lines worked great to tell the piece-meal narrative until all the threads wove themselves together.  You have crafted an intriguing world and presented it with a delightful mixture of humor and authenticity.  I am reminded somewhat of The Princess Bride in the balance between comedic foolishness and sincere storytelling.  Nice work.  Hope there is more.

Crumbs For Crow elicited plenty of kind words from Facebook and a generally positive review from the fantasy forum complete with some rather odd auto-suggest moments.

Well, a little bit of praise goes a long way in fuelling me up for more work. If people are beginning to like what I do, I must be on the right track.

And if there’s one thing that I have learned from the wider world is that I am certainly writing well enough to be taken seriously, and definitely nowhere near the bottom of the pile when it comes to ability. It seems crazy that I have to tell myself this because I’ve been writing for a (very) long time now, but actually putting yourself out there is the only way to really get to know how your work will be taken.

So it’s onwards and upwards into 2019……

Plans For 2019

Now looking forward there’s no time to relax. The pressure is still on and I can only throw myself into this next year all the harder, but it seems that the more I take on the more I can achieve.

So, as a working writer, what am I going to have to do to move it all forward? Here’s a few ideas.

  1. Teaser: Prepare the teaser for RSR and try to enlarge the beta-reader numbers who are specifically fantasy fans. If I can generate some interest and enlarge my followers then I’ll be on course for a full release.
  2. Artwork/Author Photos:  I’m going to need to think about getting some artwork commissioned for Red Star Rising so that any promo material has a visual fixture. Same goes for getting some decent promo photos of my own gorgeous self.
  3. Submissions: If everything goes to plan with the teaser, increased followers and beta-readers, then I’ll be working on submissions for agents and publishers. This will also require perfecting pitches and synopsis summaries.
  4. Upgrade Blog: This could be a straight WP upgrade, and I mainly want to solve the problem with the scheduling of posts – if I schedule a post for WP at the moment it wont appear until someone logs into the site. So it’s not fully automated and with less traffic it ain’t going to happen. I’ll also be looking at perfecting the use of tags to get more coverage.
  5. Business cards: Other forms of self promotion will include printing some basic business cards so I can pass on my online addresses (including a proper domain name for the website) without resorting to pen and paper.
  6. Writers Circle: I’ve toyed with this idea for a couple of months and have decided that once the initial setting up is done I should be able to cope with running it once a month. I’ve got the perfect venue and it’ll help generate some revenue for the lady that runs it. More on this in the future.

That’s all for now. Just thoughts and ideas waiting to be worked on once New Years has passed and normal routines are up and running. In the meantime I’ll snatch what moments I can to keep in touch with the work, and use some spare time for playing guitar. I’ll be looking to play a few more open mics, perform some more of my own material and maybe at some point do a support slot for one of the locals on the scene.

COMING SOON: Another biographical sketch about my dark days at college and the words that started me writing. There will also be some new narrative material regarding a novel way to solve the problems of writing a creation myth.

Until then, stay cool.

Peace.

DJC

PS – I was sitting here wondering whether to put a song on the top of this post, and if so what song should I use? At that exact moment Iggy Pop came on randomly from the Foobar playlist like divine intervention. What better sentiment to take into the new year…… hooray! Success!

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