Excuses and Excuses

Hey, look!  2016’s over!

And wow, from a writing perspective, I accomplished just a little bit more than jack squat.

The year actually started out pretty well.  In January, I cranked out a bunch of short stories for Dean and Kris‘ anthology workshop, just in time for the Navy to change my schedule so that I couldn’t attend it.  Then I hunkered down and maintained a daily log of writing output as I got going on The Falconer’s Stairs, the next Glimmer Vale Chronicles book.  I also got started on a new Space Navy series, but after a few chapters decided to stop until GV 5 was done.  And it was going pretty well, for the most part.  I even commissioned cover art before I finished it, with a deadline of my intended release date, as an added motivator to git ‘r done.

Then I went on travel to Japan for a couple weeks for the Navy.  I intended to write a ton while I was there, but as tends to happen in Japan, instead I enjoyed the country and the company of my Navy compadres.  That can be forgiven, I guess.

What can’t be forgiven is the absolute lack of writing over the summer and first part of the fall.  I can claim busy-ness, and that’s true to an extent.  But really I wasn’t focused.  The Falconer’s Stairs has been sitting at about 80% done for a while.  And the Space Navy book…no progress there either.

Basically, in 2016 I sucked as a writer

On the bright side, I got invited into an anthology that’s being edited by my buddy, and awesome writer in his own right, Blaze Ward.  It’s a super-hero themed collection, something that I hadn’t done before, so I was able to stretch my limbs a bit.  The story was due on 1 December, and I got 15,000 words done in about a week and got it to him on time.  He liked the story a lot.  So do I.  All the same, I’m pretty sure there are some who will be…put off…by its content and main character.  We’ll see.  More to follow as the release approaches.  He’s aiming for late Spring.

I’ve also re-commenced with stories for this year’s Anthology Workshop, which I actually will be able to attend (no Navy conflicts this time!).  Got two done in December, and there will be four more to do in January (one per week).  The December stories were 4,500 and 4,700 words, respectively.  The assignment for this week is 3,000-6,000 words.  Shouldn’t be too hard.

I also submitted to Writers of the Future each quarter.  Got two Honorable Mentions and a Silver Honorable.  Thing is, those were all stories I had written earlier, namely last January for the anthology workshop.

So what does all that mean?  I certainly CAN get the words out.  But I clearly need external deadlines of some sort, or I tend to let myself slack off.  Basically I’m a lazy bastard.

You can see that on the physical side of me as well.

A year and a half ago, I got back from deployment.  Unlike my previous deployments, this one was not on a submarine but a surface ship.  Consequently, I worked out pretty much every day – Insanity, weights, you name it.  When I came back, I looked like this:

Yeah, I didn’t have a six-pack, but I looked pretty good and I got a hell of a tan from 7 months in the tropics.  I also had developed an even greater taste for lifting than I had before.  A good thing, right?  🙂

I came back and continued lifting, and running, and all the great things that keeps one looking good.  I trained for a marathon in Santa Barbara, that I was going to run last year in November.

Then, in September, I broke my toe.

That killed my training for a few weeks.  But no worries, I was going to gut it out and do the marathon – except it got cancelled.  Ok well, I can still lift, right?  Then I injured my shoulder.  Come December, my foot was fully healed, so I started running again.  And then in January, I broke another toe – in the other foot.  And my shoulder still hurt.  Turns out I had an impingement – a minor almost dislocation that I was going to need physical therapy for.  Well no worries, my foot’s almost healed and I can run again.  And then….plantar fasciitis.  Every attempt at running resulted in wicked heel pain the next day, and for several days later

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?????

Seriously, I turned 40 and went straight to hell physically.

So I stopped running, and basically doing anything except physical therapy.  The shoulder got better, but the heels didn’t.  Meanwhile, I kept up the same diet I had been, and indulging in more beer and wine than I should have, considering my changed physical activity…

Did I switch to bicycling, which I used to do a lot but had gotten away from?  Of course not.  That would take effort, and all those injuries gave me a great excuse not to just slack off.

Long story short, I gained almost 20 pounds.  In a year.  Disgusting.

So 2016 was basically a year of slacking and excuses, and overall bleah.

It wasn’t a total loss, though.  A couple months back I got sick of slacking, joined an MMA gym, and got working on my boxing skills.  Jujitsu and kickboxing too, but I’ve primarily been focusing on boxing so far.  Those who know me know I’ve spent a lot of time over the years training in karate, kung fu, and tai chi.  But it had been a while since I found a dojo that I really liked, and that wasn’t, for lack of a better word, cheesy.  So many don’t allow contact in sparring, or only play-act the practical stuff.  That is unsatisfying and not especially challenging.  The complete lack of finding a good school left me dejected so I essentially gave up for a couple years.  But I knew I needed to make a change so I said screw it, go with boxing.  That’s when I found this particular gym.  I had heard good things about the MMA world, so why not?

Good move.  The boxing coach in the gym makes his living training championship and professional-level people.  Apparently he just comes to this gym as a fun way of paying it forward.  Suffice it to say I’ve learned a lot from him so far, enough to know how seriously lacking in fighting skills I had been up to this point.

So that’s good.

I’ve also decided to stop being a wimp and get back to lifting.  And back to running.  Screw the aching heels, just do it.  And you know what?  As I’ve been working back into it, the heel pain has gotten less, where all those exercises and whatnot that the Docs and PT people said to do did precisely jack squat.

Combine that with the Christmas present from my wife – a Garmin Vivoactive HR wearable watch/GPS/activity tracker.  This thing is great.  I used to use the MapMyRide app on my iphone to track everything – a great buy at $1.99.  But this thing goes more in depth and is easier because it’s right there on the wrist, and it makes cool graphs.  And the Garmin Connect software interfaces with UnderArmor’s MyFitnessPal to track calories consumed and burned, making diet management a snap.

So I’m psyched to get back on the physical horse in 2017.

I’m also psyched to get back on the writing horse.  This month is the four stories for the anthology workshop, and finishing up The Falconer’s Stairs (finally).  Then it’s over to the Space Navy books.  I think those are going to be awesome, and y’all will like them.

That still leaves the problem of deadlines, though.  I’ve decided to tackle that in two ways.

  1. I’m going to get The Falconer’s Stairs up on Amazon and elsewhere for pre-order, for full release early March.  The way Amazon works, you have to have the final manuscript uploaded 10 days prior to release, and you can’t move the release date, or they punish you hard.  So that’s a deadline to work to.
  2. I’m going to do similar things with the Space Navy books, and others I’m doing in the future.  No more nebulous target dates without consequences if I miss the mark.
  3. I set up a Patreon account.  (I know, I know, asking for money when you just admitted to being a slacker?  Hear me out)  The goal of the Patreon account is to give myself another deadline to meet – namely a short story every month for the patrons.  And to get another stream of income going, of course.  But that’s ancillary to the deadline, really.  So if you have the willingness to slip a brother a buck or two a month, head on over and make a pledge.

Between those three things, I hope to satisfy my need for deadlines.

Here’s what I want to get done in 2017:

  1. Publish The Falconer’s Stairs – March
  2. Complete and publish Warfare Qualified, the first Space Navy book – July
  3. Complete and publish Independent Deployment, the second Space Navy book – October
  4. Complete the third Space Navy book by the end of the year
  5. Submit to Writers of the Future every quarter
  6. Write updates here (much) more often
  7. Provide lots of content for the Patreon patrons

I also need to (finally) finish the sequel to Masters of the Sun.  And a sequel to The Pericles Conspiracy.  Problem with the former is there is no demand for it, even though I know where it needs to go and have written a fair chunk of it.  Problem with the second is there is demand, but I have no idea where it’s going at all.  I never intended there to be a sequel; only reason I’ve started one is the demand for it.  So it’s a longer-term work in progress at this point.

The Space Navy books, on the other hand…  Well, I’ll tell you more in another post.  This one has gone on too long already.  It’s practically a book in and of itself.

So that’s where I stand.  Hope all y’all had a happy and festive Holiday season.  I know I did.  Now it’s back to the grind.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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