Friday, December 28, 2012

A Year In the Mirror

2012 is just about over. I’ll be glad to shake the last dust of it from my feet. After a rough 2010, where we lost my mom, stepfather, and brother-in-law, 2011 was  a year of recovery. I wrote more and more as 2011 went on and had a very productive summer. The fall of 2011 was tough at work and I had to slow down on the writing front, but I picked up over Christmas break and drove into the first couple of months of 2012 with enthusiasm and energy that I hadn't possessed in some time. Everyone who reads this blog knows what happened next and I won’t rehash it. I could have found the time to write after March, but my will broke for a while.

I've never kept word counts for my yearly production but I’d estimate that I've typically produced between 100 to 120,000 words of published fiction a year for the last decade. In 2012 I actually did decide to keep records. I only produced about 50,000 words of what I’d consider publishable material. About 10,000 of that was produced in January and February and has been published. Another 15,000 of what I did later in the year is scheduled for publication in various venues. In fact, much of that material was written because I had requests or contracts for it. I don’t know if I’d produced much of it without that motivation. The rest of my 2012 writing consists mostly of partials, most of which I hope to finish in 2013.

2012 has ended on a high note emotionally for Lana and me. Her cancer is gone and life is steadily getting back to normal for us. Despite that lift in mood, though, I have really just wasted my Christmas break as far as writing is concerned. I wrote one 1000 word short story, and that was during final exams. Since I've been home for break I've done virtually nothing. I’m not quite sure why. It just seems far easier not to write.

I see 2013 as an important year for me in writing. If I don’t do better than in 2012 I’m thinking I might as well just admit that I’m a dabbler rather than a writer. Fortunately, my production this year was so low that I scarcely have anywhere to go but up. I’m going to try and use these last few days of 2012 to re energize myself a bit. I've been overdosing on reading fiction in hopes of feeding my muse some stimulation. We’ll see how that works out.

What I need, and I know it, is the discipline that has served me well over previous years. I've never been a prolific writer and have always had many other work commitments, but throughout most of my life since graduate school I have written steadily. It might have been just a small amount, but it was nearly every day.  Even if I was tired, or sick, or depressed, or overworked at school, I produced a sentence, a paragraph, a page.  2010 knocked that pattern off kilter, and 2012 kept it off. But it wasn't the events in those years that did it. It was the change inside of me.

Maybe it’s time to shrug back into the harness. 



Cloudia said...

The portrait says SO much. I love that guy; lots of folks have been touched by him.

"Since I've been home for break I've done virtually nothing. I’m not quite sure why. It just seems far easier not to write."

Much work is happening below the surface. Be patient for the fallow.

I'd say you are a writer!

As I prepare my little novella to be KINDLIZED I think "Who do I know who understands this process? Who is busy but would HELP if asked. Who do I see as a role model for producing e-books?

You, man.

Lana is a whole other miracle for which I am grateful this year.

Even your 'doing nothing' is something. And look at the response you provoke! (I'm betting others will want to respond to this post)

Happy New Year, you two!

Glad for ALL of it

Friday Aloha from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >
> < } } ( ° >
> < 3 3 3 ( ' >

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, thanks for your constant support and for reading. Much appreciated.

Tom Doolan said...

I agree with Cloudia. You are prolific in your own right, and one of my main inspirations. You have weathered storms that no one would want to, and you have come out the other side. Changed? Sure. Who wouldn't be? But the core of who Charles Gramlich is will always be there. Keep writing, borther. You are a beacon of encouragement for floundering "dabblers" like me. Of course, you're also my most consistant commenter on my blog, so I feel obligated to support you (heh...just kiddin!). :)

Paul R. McNamee said...

You've had every reason to have a spotty writing year. Do not despair, you'll be in swing next year, I'm confident.

Happy New Year!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

"Even if I was tired, or sick, or depressed, or overworked at school, I produced a sentence, a paragraph, a page." That's so inspirational, Charles. It's the kind of encouragement I need to sit down and write and not just talk about it. In spite of the adversities this year, I think you did a lot better than many people who didn't go through what you did, and I hope Lana and you have a very happy and wonderful 2013!

Deka Black said...

Cloudia took the words from my keyboard. So... i'll only say you're very right about discipline. Thanks to it, for example, this 2013 will see the publication of my very first book.

But don't talk about me. Instead, i wnt to say nobody knowing what you do can say you're a dabller. There's always other things in the way of writing. Something called "life". And sometimes, we need to pay attention to it. That's all.

And... let me finish saying i hope this coming 2013 i hope to see you in the news receiving some award for your work ;)

Good luck!

Oscar Case said...

I'm with you, Charles. I think it is the holidays this year with all the negative news blaring out of the TV and the fiscal cliff that we'll drop over, that's put me in a writing funk. I'm going to have to do something productive to get my mind off current events. Do not despair, this too shall pass.

Merisi said...

"I have really just wasted my Christmas break as far as writing is concerned"

I'd say after this emotionally year, you needed a period of rest, to regroup and make a fresh start with renewed energy.

Merisi said...

Sorry, I meant to write "after an emotionally challenging year".

Charles Gramlich said...

Tom, thanks, man.

Paul, I appreciate it. I do think things will look up.

Prashant, if I can get back to that I think all will be well. Thanks.

Deka, cool, man. And luck with your work. I'm sure it will come together.

Oscar, tis true. I should stop watching the news, I think at times.

Merisi, I certainly took the time. but yes, it was a challenging year.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Lana's miracle is worth any sacrifice and more precious than gold.

Snowbrush said...

That's you in the photo? You look so different than in your photo with the car.

I'm so glad that year is ending on an up note for you.

Riot Kitty said...

You'll do it. That is a hell of a lot to go through in a couple of years. Harness awaits.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, it is indeed.

Snowbrush, I'm a year older. But not really wiser.

Riot Kitty, yes it was. And I know I'll appreciate the harness once I get back in it.

ivan said...

The miracle of Lana's recovery!

As for writing success, I've had some, and the same in popular music.

...But there is a puppy-poker inside me that always seems to say, "This is too much like work."

So I quit, and then have to pay the piper.
Seems I have been subsidizing that hornblower for twenty years now. :)

laughingwolf said...

look at it this way: you're NOT a stenographer, you're a WRITER, big difference... but you know that

consider all you write as stuff writers do best... write

more success in the new year!

Adventuresfantastic said...

Considering the year you've had, I'm not surprised you aren't writing as much as you think you should. I can't imagine how emotionally drained you are. And while I rejoice with you over Lana's beating cancer, I don't think you've wasted your break. You're still recovering mentally and emotionally from the year's ordeal. It's hard to care about your characters when you've spent most of your emotional energy. Hang in there, let yourself recharge on a deep, inner level, and know your readers will be waiting when the words start to flow again.

Greg said...

I don't think anyone reading this blog would consider you a "dabbler" -- you can just scroll down the sidebar and see the list of books you've written to erase that idea!

Randy Johnson said...

As others mention, you had a lot on your mind in 2012. That you did as well as it worked out is astounding to me. @013 will be better. For both Lana and you.

G. B. Miller said...

Nice portrait.

I concur with what the commenters have stated about you and your writing.

Sometimes, it's the quality that counts and not the quantity (hell, I'm a prime example of that).

2012 was merely a small indentation in your writing journey. A pothole, one could say, that ultimately will not detour your from accomplishing what you put your mind to.

After all, you are a person to be admired, and besides, how many people can brag about being listed in the acknowledgment section of book as being an influence to that particular writer?

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is so easy to be derailed and so hard to find it again. I despair most days.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

If you're a dabbler, you're the best one I know.

But you're no dabbler, you're an excellent writer. Looking forward to more my friend, very glad your year is ending with good news for you and Lana.

Ty said...

Charles, I've had plenty of life loops thrown my way the last few years, so I know where you're coming from. As Cloudia pointed out, Lana was indeed a miracle these past months, and Lana and you can give others hope.

You'll have no problem getting back on the wagon, I'm sure. Write at your own pace, the rest will come.

Deka Black said...

Thanks! ;)

the walking man said...

You tell yourself you have to write more but then the pressure of having to write more stops you from writing more because no one can get the flow going under're old enough to know the harder you try the harder it is to empty the bladder.

I could compare output with you but then what use would it be? What purpose is there in keeping a word count--I guess it feels good on the ego to know how much room was on the hard drive last year and how much is left but *shrug* you can always screw yourself up and hook in an external hard drive.

I never thought I would have anyone who associated my name with poetry, I knew I would never gain fame or fortune or even k now enough to make a decent poem, it's just something I do.

I keep every poem I write in a folder that says poetry 2012, because of your post I just went and checked the properties and there are 336 different pieces in there and I haven't merged the laptop folder so I would say 390 or so.

So? So what? That is far less than what I used to write--hell I never saved anything for thirty years but on some days i would write ten a day.

So here is the point, Charles you know that you could publish damn near anything you wrote, you have a recognized name, no you can't retire and just write but for all your bitching I think you really like your university job (well except for the idiots who run the joint).

So why not, quit sweating output and worry instead on slowing down, adapting to a new pace that gives you time to do that one final edit?

Adapting is probably the hardest thing I have ever done, going from 80 hour work weeks to 0 all in the span of two days. Think about it for your new year. It's not like you will stop, no one who has ever seen their name in print can stop.

Charles Gramlich said...

ivan, Yeah, I think it’s the damn work that is getting to me. I grow more and more lazy with each passing year.

laughingwolf, Thanks, man. I appreciate it.

Keith, Very kind words, my friend. And wise ones. I do push too hard sometimes.

Greg, I guess I feel like a dabbler at times. It’s probably part of my emotional makeup about a lot of things. I’ve felt that way about other stuff before too.

Randy Johnson, I was actually surprised when I added it up that it was as much as 50,000. I had thought it would be considerably less.

G. B. Miller, Lana took that when we were at the park the other day. Then she cropped out everything but the face frame. She’s talented enough even to make me look “all right.”  And you speak truth on the writing front. I appreciate it!

pattinase (abbott), indeed. Amazingly easy to be derailed.

David J. West, Yes, we were very relieved at the news, and thanks much for your kind words. I appreciate ‘em.

Ty Johnston, What I may have to do is just stop telling myself I need to write more and faster. It never seems to work. In fact, It could backfire. Lana’s news made up for everything else, though.

Deka Black, no prob!

the walking man, True that I absolutely need to stop badgering myself about output. I have to just focus on the project at hand and work toward finishing it. I do like teaching, although I have felt something of a burnout the last couple of years. Since Hurricane Katrina ended up with Xavier firing almost half its faculty, we have all been working long hours so that has contributed to that. Like I say, too, I only started keeping word count records this year. I don’t know if I’ll do that in 2013 or not.

Vesper said...

It just seems far easier not to write. - I know exactly what you mean... I've been doing a lot of that lately, while reading a lot more than before and allowing myself to get addicted to certain television series. But then, I've also had these "wow!" moments, while reading or watching, amazed at the writers' ideas, and that gave me a big push.
You've had a few very difficult years, but the most important thing is that Lana is fine now.
And I know you'll be getting back into the saddle for your writing - you're my inspiration, Charles! Always!

Happy New Year 2013!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Sounds like you are on the right track. hopefully a couple days in a row of writing will get you back into it. Good luck and great news about your wife.

Angie said...

Empathy, dude. :/ I didn't even get how much Jim's surgeries and all were stressing me out until it was almost over with. Definitely looking forward to next year.

Fortunately, my production this year was so low that I scarcely have anywhere to go but up.

I need to print that out and tape it to my table. May we both find our groove again in '13. {{}}


Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper, thank you. That's very kind of you. On to the New Year!

Sean, usually once I get started it builds its own momentum for sure.

Angie, yes, maybe I should tape that line up over my computer as well.

sage said...

Happy New Year, Charles. When you say you've never been a prolific writer, I shake my head!

Travis Cody said...

Maybe you can look at winter break 2012 as just some necessary downtime heading into 2013. Give yourself a pass for how this past year is ending.

You are no dabbler, Sir. You'll find the disciplined mind set again and by this time next year, you'll be at that standard publishable word count.

Erik Donald France said...

Charles, a recovery year and still writing -- maybe not as much as you hoped, but still more than most. And yeah, Lana ~!

The photo is excellent. Cheers, y'all ~ !!

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, I guess it depends on how one thinks of it. :)

Travis Cody, I hear you say that in a Deep Southern Accent! Lana does a great deep south acccent.

Erik, thanks, man. I was pleasantly surprised it wasn't just a few thousand words.

Jessica Ferguson said...

Thanks for visiting my blog faithfully. You've been a real inspiration to me.

Holding up my glass of unspiked eggnog to your success in 2013. I'll be waiting, watching, reading and cheering you on.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jess, thanks so much. I really appreciate it!

Erik Donald France said...

Happy New Year ~ huzzah ~!

Unknown said...

"I have really just wasted my Christmas break as far as writing is concerned."

You say that as though rest, relaxation and recovery were worthless pursuits, you big goofy head! Now stop being over-critical of my wonderful husband before I come over there and give you what for!

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, thankee.

Lana, lol