This Year in Writing

In 2014 I wrote 107,489 revised words. That is, I counted the latest version of each particular piece I worked on this year. I’m pretty happy with how much I did; it adds up to be the length of a decent sized novel. I’m going to break down the number down further in this post.

By Season:

-Winter – 10,032

-Spring – 25,092

-Summer – 14,630

-Fall – 57,599

The trends here are pretty obvious when I think about what was going on in my life during each of seasons. During the semesters (spring and fall) I write a substantial amount more. Part of that can be attributed to how burnt out I am by the time a semester ends. Another important factor is the prevalence of deadlines. During the school year, there are way more that I need to meet.

The massive spike in the fall has two major factors. The first is that I joined a writing group where I need to submit a piece of fiction every three weeks and write 100 to 500 word responses to two other people’s (or one if I’m up that week) fiction every week. The second factor is that I started at Action Figure Fury in August. Having a weekly column certainly lights a fire under my ass.

By Genre:

-Fiction – 57,573

-Non-fiction – 30,361

-Poetry – 811

-Responses – 19,871

-Assignments – 10,106

This breakdown isn’t super interesting. I’m studying fiction, so I obviously write the most of it. I’ve had a lot more success writing non-fiction, and I’m getting it published weekly. I wouldn’t be surprised if I wrote more non-fiction than fiction this year.

Poetry is probably the biggest anomaly. I’ve published three poems, two this year, and yet I only wrote two poems this year. (The two I published were written the year before this one).

Theoretically, writing responses helps improve my writing because what I learn writing them can be applied back to my own work. That’s the idea behind workshops at least. I certainly hope it’s true, because I wrote a novella’s worth of responses this year.

Assignments are papers I wrote for literature classes. I wasted a lot of time on them this year and won’t spend anymore talking about them on here.

Publications and Blog

Last year, I’m proud to say I published 16,550 words of my writing. That weights in at around 15% of what I wrote. I also ran another 4,721 words on this here blog, so an avid reader could have read about a novella of my work, and next year I plan to do better. I’ll be publishing a post a week on Action Figure Fury, so I think I’ll do more than last year handily. Hopefully I can do better outside of that project too.

Going Forward

This all leads to setting goals for this year. My biggest goal is to record more data, and better figures out how I’m spending my precious little writing time. I’ve been keeping a regimented track of what I’ve done thus far on an Excel sheet, but I’m not sure how that will go once the semester starts. My goal is to figure out how I’m spending my time, and then tweaking it to maximize my productivity.

Another goal I’m setting is to write more than 107,489 words this years. I’m not going to press that hard on word count though. I’d prefer to write fewer words if they’re better. So far though, I’ve written about 5,600 words (counting this), which makes me halfway to where I finished last winter a week in.

I’m going to do my best to make this a productive year and hope you’ll do the same.

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This Year in Reading

Hey everyone. I know I’ve been off here for about a month, so rather than trying to catch up on all of the books I read in the between, I thought it would be better to post a list of the sixty-four books I read in 2014. If you want to discuss any of them, feel free to post in the comments!

1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
2. Wouldn’t You Like to Know by Pamela Painter
3. Mystique: Ultimate Collection by Brian K. Vaughan, Jorge Lucas, Michael Ryan, Manuel Garcia
4. Unmentionables: Poems by Beth Ann Fennelly
5. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
6. Seminar in Short Fiction by Ladette Randolph (Anthology)
7. There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
9. Round House by Louise Erdrich
10. Speak of the Devil by Gilbert Hernandez
11. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
12. Maus I by Art Spiegleman
13. Maus II by Art Spiegleman
14. Colonizing Egypt by Timothy Mitchell
15. The Isle of Youth by Laura Van Den Berg
16. Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina
17. La Perdida by Jessica Abel
18. Air, Vol. 1:Letters from Lost Countries by G. Willow Wilson and M. Kuhtlukhan Parker
19. Air, Vol. 2: Flying Machine by G. Willow Wilson and M. Kuhtlukhan Parker
20. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
21. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
22. The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman, Steve Parkhouse, and Chris Bachalo
23. Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
24. Dream Country by Neil Gaiman, Kelly Jones, etc.
25. Lost at Sea by Brian Lee O’Malley
26. Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen
27. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
28. Someone by Alice McDermott
29. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
30. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
31. Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury
32. Bossypants by Tina Fey
33. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling
34. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
35. Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks
36. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
37. The Realm of Last Chances by Steve Yarbrough
38. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
39. Willpower by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney
40. Getting Past No by William Ury
41. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
42. Blow Up by Julio Cortazar
43. Freaks Amour by Dana Marie Andre and Ande Parks
44. Old Rosa by Reinaldo Arenas
45. Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Parker
46. Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson
47. Sweet Diamond Dust by Rosario Ferre
48. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
49. The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes
50. Who Killed Palomino Molero by Mario Vargas Llosa
51. I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro
52. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
53. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
54. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
55. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
56. Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martin
57. Undertow Volume One: Boatman’s Call by Steve Orlando and Artyom Trakhanov
58. Prophet, Vol. 1: Remission by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy
59. Mystic:The Tenh Apprentice by G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez
60. The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
61. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
62. Luisa in Realityland by Claribel Alegria
63. The Tomb of Dracula by Various Writers and Eugene Colan
64. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Thank You, U2

Dear U2,

I must admit, I’m a little embarrassed. You weren’t on my shopping list this holiday, so I don’t have anything to give you and you’ve taken the time to download your new album onto my phone and computer. It’s sweet, really, and not the least bit invasive.

My other gifts were sweet too, but didn’t do enough to invade my personal space. My roommate did get me an awesome t-shirt, Star-Lord as Super Mario jumping for a star over black, but I had to put it on myself. We sleep in the same apartment, and she didn’t feel comfortable enough to sneak into my room in the night and put it on me, but you, international rock band U2, found the time and level of comfort to put Songs of Innocence onto every electronic device I own.

And I didn’t even need to open it in front of my family! The Enlightment on a Spring Dashboard Jesus my Aunt gave me got some looks from my religious mother. So did the Red Cross medicine flask my brother gave my sister. Imagine how much better it would be, if my Aunt had jimmied the lock of my car and glued the the Enlightment on a Spring Dashboard Jesus to the dashboard. No looks! And the flask, if my brother had the foresight to slip it into my sister’s bag when she was taking it off the turnstile at the airport. And really, I would have gotten some strange looks if I’d had to unwrap Songs of Innocence. See, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t really like your music. In fact, I’ve criticized you more than once for using simple chord progressions with oversimplified political messages to seem deep. Opening your album would have been quite the snafu!

What really makes it a great gift though is the way that I can’t actually remove it from my iPhone or laptop. The furthest it can go is the cloud, from where it inexplicably returns when I put my music on shuffle at the gym. Can you even imagine the pleasant surprise of having a gift song come on while you’re riding a stationary bike? It’s like a little bit of your munificent spirit of giving is following me everywhere I go, whether I want it to or not. The flannel shirt my cousin gave me is great and all, but it would be so much better if she had sewn it into my skin. She could have hooked some wire through the buttonholes, if she was half the gift-giver you were, Bono, Edge, and the rest.

Anywho, what size sweaters do you guys wear? I wouldn’t want to just receive a gift. It would diminish the spirit of the season. I eagerly await hearing from you, and I know it’ll be soon. My iTunes is on shuffle.

Sincerely,

Ryan