2015 in Review

I feel obligated to sum up the year. I mean, everybody else is doing it, right? That’s what you do at the end of the year.

So let me try my hand at this…

Let’s see. My new year’s resolution for 2015 was to get more aggressive with my writing aspirations. Not just to write more, but to submit those writings to publishers, to hone my craft, and to better satisfy my own internal requirements to call myself a writer. Lots of people would look at what I’d done at the beginning of 2015: two NaNoWriMo novels, a portfolio of short stories, even, going way back, a college scholarship for poetry, and say, “Dude, you’re a writer. Get over it.” But each of us has our own internal dialog on such things, and mine still had a few checkboxes to check before I can say that to myself. As of Jan 1 2015, and to a lesser extent still now, I call myself an IT person who writes on the side.

How did I do on that resolution? Not too bad. I hit the ground running and in January I submitted my first story to Fantasy and Science Fiction egged on by the news of a new editor and online submissions. I got my first rejection letter a few weeks later, and while that may sound discouraging the feedback was major shot in the arm. I didn’t just get a form letter rejection, I got feedback about what did and didn’t work for the editor. That says to me I got passed the first cut, and the editor took the time to read the whole story. That was WAY more than I expected. There’s something to be said for low expectations.

The second thing I did was take this blog a bit more seriously. It sat in an old Microsoft Live account that converted to a WordPress.com free site about 3 or 4 years ago. I registered hjmiii.com, fired this site up, and cut ties with the old. I can’t say I’ve been prolific writing here, but it’s more regularly updated than anything I’ve done in years.

I also took a concerted effort to reconstruct my social media presence (I say that like an IT guy). I still keep some personal and IT related accounts separate (LinkedIn and Google+ mostly), but the rest of my social media accounts became Harry Meier the author. I even bit the bullet and opened a Facebook account, albeit one I check about once a month to connect with my local NaNo crew. I spend most of my time on Twitter. And on other things like Tumblr and Instagram I’m mainly a consumer of info rather than a creator. Most of my connections in those author accounts are with others in the field. I’m learning the trade through their eyes, collecting tips, and links to more places to send my work.

In the editing and development dept. I got back on Scribophile, but I need to work a lot harder at that. I also commissioned an artist to work on cover art for my novels. If for no other reason I feel like having a visual of the books will help me edit and bring those to life.

Lastly I branched out and wrote more eclectic things. I wrote a children’s book, and last but not least I wrote another novel, or at least most of one. This time in NaNoWriMo, as I’ve written before, I took the approach to challenge myself. I wrote something for a younger audience and not specifically in the sci-fi genre.

Where did I fall short? Well, I still can’t say I’m putting out publishable material since I haven’t been published. While I went hard out of the gate with that short story submission, I haven’t submitted more than that despite having a trove of work I could polish and send out to the world. I still suck at editing. I now have three novels to finish and edit.

What can we do for next year? I think time management will play a big part in getting my asspirations off the ground. I know from November that I can produce content, but I can’t sacrifice my family and friends like that year round. I think I have a middle ground where I can slowly but consistently write and edit, but it has to take 3rd seat to family and day job.

What about the rest of 2015? It had its ups and downs. As for Ups, I got to have a nice double vacation with family in the spring. My daughter turned three, which is a pretty fun age. The place I live had a mostly mild year, weather wise, save for some record heat in the summer. Work life has been productive. As for Downs, we had a few losses this year in a beloved uncle and a beloved pet passing away. But in the category of silver linings, due to the passing of my uncle, I and my daughter got to go back to Pennsylvania and meet a lot of family I hadn’t seen in years, some in decades, and who my daughter never met. It was a bittersweet homecoming for me, but one that was overall happy. I hope she enjoyed it and remembers it.

The rest of the world had some tough times, but there’s a lot of hope out there. If you focus on the negativity in the news the good things happening will slip right by. More of the world is better off now than at any time in recorded history, and even while we’re fighting the good fight to make it better and quelling the fires of hatred and suffering it’s important to appreciate how far we’ve come. I posted this to Twitter, and I’ll post it here too. Here’s a nice look from Bill Gates at some really good news you may have missed in 2015.

Happy New Year everyone. Have a safe and joyous end to 2015 and many happy new times in the year to come.

Gatesnotes: The Top 6 Good-News Stories of 2015