The Craft
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A toast for 2013

This was the year everything changed.

It started with a Cracked article. Yes, Cracked. Now, Cracked sometimes sneaks in life lessons with their weird history and nerd comedy, and at the beginning of 2013, David Wong of Cracked issued a challenge to his readers: make 2013 the year that you close (warning: Alec Baldwin says mean things in that clip.) No excuses, no bullshit, no tired old lines about how you couldn’t because (insert whatever excuse is your preferred reason for not getting it done here.) No trite promises quickly abandoned, no self-defeating battles with the mirror. 2013 wouldn’t be about what we are, but what we do. He left what up to the reader. Learn a language, a martial art, make a painting, write a book. Learn a tangible skill, create a tangible result, do something. CLOSE. Kick some items off the bucket list, figure out what makes life worth living and DO THAT THING.

Not too hard to guess that my vow for 2013 was to finish one of the three books that had floundered in limbo for years. Hell, #2 on that Cracked list might as well have been written with my name on it. I was determined. This would be the year I finished a book. I picked one of the three books I had in progress, Blood Chimera. This would be the year I quit wallowing in the excuses that I have spent the last twenty years inventing for myself, the reasons why it was acceptable to never finish, and thus never, technically, fail. This year would be different.

The awesome part? This year WAS different.

Hell. Yes.

I’ve written other articles about what allowed me to snap through my limitations and finish that first book in months rather than years. Once I’d made that breakthrough, I decided to go ahead and finish one of the other remaining books. And then finish the last one. And then I wrote Blood Sin, the sequel to Blood Chimera, because by the time November rolled around I realized the first three times weren’t a fluke. Yes, I can close.

I wrote four books in 2013. I wrote four books, found a publisher for two of those books (Hey there, World Weaver Press!) self-published one (Marduk’s Rebellion,) and am in the process of self-publishing the last (The Culling Fields.) All total, I wrote half-a-million words. Now, I know of authors who smile at that and say ‘aww, isn’t that adorable?’ (When I was at DragonCon, author Kevin J. Anderson revealed he’d written 120 books in the last 20 years, a feat of writing which required him to crank out a steady 6 books a year. SIX.) But hey, after doing nothing, and having every excuse for it, four books feels damn good.

Now I won’t lie: four books required sacrifices. I work full time. I did very little gaming in 2013 and virtually no role-playing (once both major hobbies of mine.) I canceled all my MMO subscriptions and when Elder Scrolls Online comes out next year it’s going to have to be truly something incredible to grab my attention away from writing. My husband would have been a very cranky person except that (thank god) he’s a writer too, so he understands (his first book will be out in 2014.) Writing became my preference, the thing I want to do first, what fills up my dance card before things like movies, RPGs and my many, many hobby projects. Writing is the default state now, not what happens when ‘inspiration strikes.’ I write (or edit) daily, whether I’m in the mood or not. Most of the time, I’m very much in the mood, fingers itching to break out my keyboard. Modern technology and dropbox means I can write very nearly anywhere.

I’ve also discovered that this accomplishment brings with it unexpected side effects. One novel might be a fluke, two novels a coincidence, three a good start, but past that point you run smack into the realization that if you can finish four books, you can do anything. Anything. 2014 will be the year that I finish still more books (those first books all need sequels) but it will also be the year that I cut sugar from my diet and make a concerted effort to exercise and take care of myself. I’m switching to a standing desk at home (and hopefully at work) because my sedentary lifestyle is starting to catch up with me, and I’m not really digging the result (or rather, my back isn’t.) All of which is my way of saying that 2013 was awesome.

And it’s my sincere hope that 2014 is even better. Everyone have a brilliant new year.

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