Being resolute in 2020, or “Not one more end-of-year list.”

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all recovered from your hangovers, but if you haven’t, I’ll type quietly. I hope 2020 is off to a good start for you because, let’s face it, 2019 kind of sucked, didn’t it? The world is on fire (literally), people in power are evil (literally), and it feels as if it could all blow up at any moment like when Alderaan met the Death Star.

I was going to make a list of all the things I accomplished, writing-wise, in 2019 but then realized, well, that list is going to be depressing. And short. And depressing. (Did I mention depressing?)

But then, I guess it depends on how you define “accomplished,” doesn’t it? Is it only an accomplishment if the end result is your writing published or a check in the bank? If so, then yes, short and depressing. But if it’s not, then maybe I did manage to get a thing or two accomplished.

Stories written:

I tend to work on multiple projects at once, which helps when I’m getting uninspired or bored or stuck with any one in particular: I just set a story aside and pick up another one. While it keeps me working on things that hold my interest, it also means I have a lot of fragments or half-started stories that haven’t made it to the finish line.

I tend to write wherever I am, with whatever is handy. Often, that’s my phone. So, I have a half dozen notes files to pick up and finish. Along with all of the files on my computer, that makes about two dozen stories that aren’t done, but that could be. Not a bad place to start the year.

Submissions made:

I made thirty submissions of short stories in the past year. This is okay, but it’s fewer than I made in 2018. I can’t point to any particular reason except maybe that I was working on longer pieces this past year, but more on those in a minute.

I think one of the reasons I’m slowing down on submissions might be that I only have eight finished stories that I think are ready for sending out. But, looking at the previous list of stories written (or, in most cases, half-written), if I can see my way through to the end of at least a few, that’ll give me more to submit.

A writer I met once called each story a plane, and she’d say, “You’ve got to get your planes in the air!” Hopefully I’ll get some cleared for takeoff this year.

Progress on the novel:

It’s… still not done.

Yes, I know, I’ve been working on this for (checks calendar) seven years, but I’m nearing the end. I’ll be honest, I’ve thought many times about setting it down again, but then I read a news article about Australia on fire or vanishing glaciers or vanishing species, and I realize that the fiction I’m working on is going to be fact before I know it. And I keep writing.

When I don’t know what to do with the world besides throw my hands up in frustration and want to say “somebody else fix this goddamn mess” or, more likely, “what’s the point, anyway,” I pick up a book. When they work well, stories are little how-to manuals of ways to get through this world. Some of them are success stories, others are cautionary tales. All of them have something I can take away from them.

In any case, either I’m going to finish this book, or it’s going to finish me.


You know what I did finish? This novella, which I wrote about before, that was originally inspired by an Alexis/Krystle catfight on Dynasty and became a 23,000-word science fiction story about a man going halfway across the galaxy to get a divorce before his impending nuptials to another man, and gets drawn into an interplanetary conflict in the process.

Next year:

Who knows? I’m not a psychic. If I were, I probably wouldn’t have as much anxiety, because at least I’d know what to prepare for.

Instead, I’ll show you something I taped to the wall above my desk early in December, when I realized I was about five to ten pages from the end of the latest revision on Harvest:

A photo of my desk with the words "Done is better than perfect" printed and taped to the wall above it.

And here’s a close-up:

The phrase "Done is better than perfect" taped to the wall above a photo of my friend Pamela, a Black woman smiling and holding a laptop that displays her face giving the viewer side-eye.

If I have any goal for 2020, that’s it: Not perfect. Just done.