2020 in review; 2021 ahead

I’m not going to attempt to recap 2020 generally — we all know what it’s looked like, and mostly the answer is “on fire, literally and figuratively.” But last year I made a post about my writing resolution for the upcoming twelve months, and it’s got me thinking about the last several years.

In 2017 I wrote three short stories that weren’t for L5R, all three of them solicited for anthologies (though one of the three anthos folded after my story was drafted). That was . . . not super productive. So in 2018 I set myself the goal of writing six, one every two months — again, not counting L5R work, since the goal here was to start actually submitting short fiction again. I managed five, which was at least an increase over the previous year, though two of those five were for anthologies (one of which again folded). In 2019 I decided to aim for the same target again, and thanks to some unforeseen angst over whether I could let myself count flash — a thing I hadn’t written in ages, but apparently my brain found that gear again — I wound up with nine stories, six of them full-length, three of them flash.

But for 2020, I changed my goals. See, I had a feeling that politics was going to trash my ability to concentrate, so between that and the novel work I was contracted for, I felt it was better to scale my expectations down. Three short stories only, and hopefully three specific ones that would help me finish off some collections.

. . . I wrote twelve.

Nine full-length stories and three flash fell out of my head this year. Not because the world was in better shape than I expected, but because there appears to have been a huge split in how people responded to 2020: either it destroyed their ability to get anything creative done, or that became their refuge from the stress. (This also seems to have been true of reading.) I apparently fell into the latter camp, with the result that this has been my most productive short fiction year since . . . <checks records> . . . 2004. That year I wrote a whopping twenty-four pieces — but eighteen of those were flash; the total wordcount was nearly 8K less than this year’s.

(Oh, and also two novels. Admittedly Alyc and I wrote a quarter of the second Rook and Rose book last year — but even if I count only half of the part we wrote this year, that’s still 75K. Which is not all that much shorter than Night Parade in its entirety.)

(And also my Patreon, which is like 60K+ every single year.)

Weirdly, my productivity has actually become kind of a problem. I am literally writing short fiction faster than anybody’s buying it, and at this point the submissions pipeline is saturated. I’ve got three drafts I haven’t even tried to revise, because there’s nowhere for me to send them. Even if I thought I could top this year’s achievement, what would be the point?

So my goals for 2021 are winding up about the same as last year’s, only for totally different reasons. I owe a long short story or (more likely) a novelette to an anthology; I have those three drafts that need revision. There are two stories it would be nice to write, one of which is left over from my 2020 hit list (the other two got written), but I’m not going to push.

Of course, I didn’t mean to push this year, either. So who knows what will happen.

2 Responses to “2020 in review; 2021 ahead”

  1. Anthony Docimo

    I predict things will be better for you in 2021, and thats not sarcasm – thats my wish to you. Happy New Year!

    (seriously, wishing things are calmer and more peaceful for all of us)

    • swantower

      Thank you! And yes, here’s crossing our fingers for an improved new year.

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