30 December 2020

2020 Accomplishments

Why focus on all the shit when you can trumpet the good?

2020 has been a total crapshoot, and like a lot of people, I had some very low lows over the course of the year. But I also had some awesome highs, and just before the new year I wanted to remind myself that even when the shit is up to your armpits, at the very, very least, you had to have made some memories.

First, and most impressive (to me), I finished a manuscript this year. 109k words, at least three people have finished the whole thing without telling me to give up and stop trying; if I never accomplish anything else in my quest to become an author, this is still something I can be proud of; something that brings a smile to my face, and straightens my spine when I really need to look for something good.

Second, I managed to come out financially even, maybe even ahead, despite two lockdowns, and everything else that has gone on this year. Being a bartender has never been more than a job to me. It’s a job I’m good at, and one I enjoy, but despite the fact I’ve been doing it (on and off) for about eight years of my life, it has never been more than a way to pay the bills.

During a global pandemic, forcing the industry to adapt, I wouldn’t have expected to be as ok (not great but ok) as I am, fiscally. I can only attribute the fact that I am to the generosity of others, and so, for all the people who will never read this, sincerely, thank you for choosing to spend some of your hard-earned cash on a meal, a drink and a tip. You literally paid for the roof over my head, the food I eat, the treats I buy myself, the ability to pursue my dream career. When a server or bartender thanks you, and it sounds formulaic, sometimes it’s because it is, and that server doesn’t give a rat’s what the rest of your day is like. I’ve been guilty of that more than once. But, sometimes, they really mean it. It should be more often than it is.

Third, I’ve drafted and edited five versions of my query letter and haven’t given up on getting to the actual query-ing part of trying to get a book published. It has been the worst thing to write ever (even worse than the synopsis, which sucks too, heads up). It is an incredibly important piece of your submission documents, and every time I wake my computer up and see it sitting in my open applications, I cringe a little. It’s the key to the city, the bribe to the watchman, the cute girl to get past the bouncer.
One of the worst things about this industry is that you will almost never know why someone passed on your work. Two pieces of feedback I’ve gotten (one from an agent and one from a Pitch Wars mentor) is that The Orphan Queen just wasn’t for them; they didn’t gel with the first five pages. Which is totally fair; fantasy is a highly subjective genre. It is amazing to hear that the voice was good, or the characters seemed interesting, but something about it just wasn't for them. Even if it's just a slightly personalized/unique form rejection, it made me feel better. However, a bigger part of me than I’d like to admit, worries I fucked my query letter up and they didn’t give my work a chance to speak for itself. But I haven’t given up on getting it right. Which I count as a huge win.

There’s doubtless more accomplishments I’ve gained throughout the year; little miracles that Past Danny would have crowed, or huge things that Future Danny will remember with fondness, but right now I can’t think of anything else. I’ll be honest, the first one is just too impactful on me, when I look back it looms large and I can’t bring myself to think too hard on anything else because I’m grinning too much.

So, what’s in store for 2021? Well, if I knew that I wouldn’t need to bother with traditional publishing, I’d just win the lottery and self-publish from my mountain of money. But I’ve got a couple hopes that I want to put down just so at this time next year I can either be disappointed in myself, or be really impressed.

Some goals for 2021:

  • Get an acceptable query letter and start sending that bad boy out. You’ve got a spread sheet of 141 agents, ranging from ideal to might be interested, and you’ve sent two queries out. (No, not all on the list are accepting subs.)
  • Settle on which WIP is going to be your second completed manuscript. Right now, you’ve got the first two (or more) chapters in: a Noir-Fantasy, two Sci-fi space adventures, an Urban-Fantasy, a buddy-cop Fantasy, and a Science-Fantasy. Pick one to focus on damnit.
  • Submit something to Pitch Wars. Maybe the Orphan Queen, maybe your second manuscript, but don’t let the disappointment of not landing a mentor scare your from trying again.
  • Take more pictures of your hikes. Not for you, per say, but because you should be more active on your socials, and it will be easy to work pictures into inspiration for writing.
  • Pull the trigger, one way or the other, on your Japan trip. The goal is right before my 30th birthday, and if we’re going, start planning and booking. Remember the three most important words: onsens, onsens, onsens. We’re going for old-school, traditional, Japanese culture. If we’re not going, figure out what the hell to do with the GIC.

You’ve done a lot over a shit year. Sometimes it won’t feel like it. But you should be damn proud of what you’ve managed to accomplish. And that was during a global pandemic. So, take care of your mental health, and keep moving forward. Sooner or later this crisis will pass, and you’ll have that much more freedom to pursue your goals.
Oh, and don’t forget to get a massage ASAP, you’ve definitely earned some pampering.