31 December 2012 - 10:46 am

The year that was… 2012

The beginning of a new year is not so different from any other day. It’s an arbitrary demarcation of a calendar that we give meaning to, rather like a lot of people did to the Mayan calendar (particularly, its end). It think it’s good to remind ourselves that calendars only hold the meaning we give them.

The turning of the year is a way to mark time and, hopefully, progress. It’s a chance to step back and take a look at where we were and where we are now. It’s a chance to try to gain some perspective. It’s when we look forward and think about where we want to be. It’s when we take the time to make plans, rather than the usual day-to-day we live.

So let’s start with the road travelled so far. 2012: a year of struggle for me.


Necessary toil: my day job as a technical writer pays the bills and lets me do my creative writing. Plus, I get to put my writing skills to good, professional use.

Over the past year, I coordinated the delivery of:

  • A major release, 2 and a half years in the making. I coordinated the entire documentation side of the project from start to end. Getting it released was a huge effort and I was glad to see if over and done with!
  • 2 minor releases, both roughly 4-month projects. There might have been another one in there. I lost track; they kept turning up on my plate without any warning.

With all that to juggle, there were a lot of changes. Over the year, I changed:

  • Positions twice. Once from team leader to team writer, and then back to team leader again (it’s a different role now and I’m managing developers and testers as well as writers, which is all new to me).
  • Teams thrice. Lots of reasons for this, most of them positive about me.
  • Desks more times than I can remember, but at least three times!

Other challenges included continuing to strive to overcome problem team members (despite no longer actually being in the same team as them) and adapting the documentation processes after a restructure as our department moved into Agile practices.

It has been stressful to say the least, and a lot of mental effort to stay on top of it all. But I did. I pulled off everything they handed to me. I made it to the end of the year without snapping and breaking down or getting myself fired. I’m still here, working away and keeping my head above water.

Financial Issues

At home, things have been tough, too. Like so many others here and around the world, our financial situation is not good. We’ve been fighting to make ends meet, and wound up moving house to reduce our costs. (It’s a good move and a lovely house, so I’m not disappointed by that, but wow it was a lot of work.)

A lot has been resting on me at home. I’m the primary breadwinner, which means those times when I’ve wanted to walk away from my job, even downgrade to something less stressful, I can’t afford to. So I’ve pushed through and done what I can to support my family while they get their own stuff sorted out.

It’s all coming along, as slowly as it always has. We’re in a more sustainable position now, which is good, and that should lift some of the pressure.


Between the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other issues that are exacerbated by stress, I haven’t had the best of years. I’m running ragged most of the time. I’ve been sick more than usual.

I’d like to think that it hasn’t impacted my writing but I know it has. I’ve missed posting deadlines; more than once, I’ve put posts off for a week because I can’t make it. I despise that. I hate knowing that I’ve failed to keep my promises; my readers are wonderfully forgiving, but I’m not. I know that if I don’t push myself, it won’t get done at all. I don’t like letting myself or my readers down.

I don’t know if the quality of my writing has been impacted. I don’t have any real perspective right now, but I suspect that it has.

It’s just another one of those things that I’m pushing through. I’m carrying on despite it, because I refuse to let things like this stop me from doing what really matters to me. Which is:


Here’s the part that we’re all interested in: that wonderful activity that I fill up all my off-time with, the thing that gives me a break from everything else when I need it and keeps me going. The things that spurs my hopes and dreams, and spills my soul out onto pages.

Even with everything that has been going on (and still is!), even with all that clutter in my head, I have stories to tell. I have characters who want to speak. I have things to say. It has been harder than usual – writing with energy when you don’t have any is far from easy – but I’ve done my best to keep up.


My web serial is still going strong. I’m averaging a book a year and this year doesn’t seem to be any different (though this third book is looking like it’s going to stretch well into next year!).

I’m still loving it. Starry and her crew are so much fun to play with, even when I’m torturing them. I have a wonderful, supportive readership; checking the comments on the posts is a highlight of my week.

The visit rate has been holding fairly steady through the year, slowly creeping upwards. Currently, I’m getting over 3,000 unique visitors a month, and anywhere between 250 and 400 visitors every day. It’s easily beating the Apocalypse Blog‘s stats, which hit 200 visits on a good day if I was lucky (I think it averaged around 180 v/d).

Starwalker has made it to the top 10 of Top Web Fiction‘s lists, and has been hovering around the number 1 spot for science fiction for some months now. This makes me insanely happy and proud.

The actual writing part has been rocky. As mentioned above, I’ve had to delay posts a few times this year. Keeping it going has been a struggle at times; one that I hope hasn’t been visible to the reader, at least not in the writing itself.

I feel like Starwalker’s plot has slid sideways and meandered more than I’d like, but it’s still heading in the right direction. I still know where it’s going to end up and how it’s all going to end. I’m excited to get there, though it’ll be a little while yet. So many miles to go!

Overall, I’m really happy with where I am. The serial is over 300,000 words now and still going. All my plans are still working and I’m laying the foundations for what’s to come. It still makes me smile when I sit down to write it.


This is usually something I keep promising that I’ll do and then never get to. But this year, not so! I made a start on some Starwalker shorts, and three of them are complete.

Not as many as I had hoped for, but it’s a start. They prompted positive reactions and I can’t ask for more than that. I have lots of plans in this area, but that’s for another post.

Vampire Electric

Ah, the elusive steampunk novel. I started off this year writing it in tandem with Starwalker, but had to take a break around March to get my breath back. It took until November for me to pick it up again. I made good progress with it, though there’s another big chunk that needs to be written before the first draft is done.

I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to keep working on it, even if my attention in this area has been sporadic. Often, it takes me a while to get back into a project – it’s one of the reasons I try not to take ‘breaks’ – but not so with this one. It still speaks to me loudly enough that I can take a few months off and still go back to writing it without any problems.

It’s not finished yet but it’s getting closer.


The annual novel-writing craziness was a wild ride this year. I’ve written four blog posts about it, so I won’t go into details here. In brief: it was hard, I learned things, my people are awesome, and I’m completely nuts (but the Retreat was amazing).

Apocalypse Blog

This one is last because I haven’t done any actual writing in this area this year. However, there has been activity!

Early this year, books 2 and 3 of AB were released. Around the same time, Amazon realised that Book 0 was free elsewhere and price-matched it, which led to a huge up-kick in sales.

I am now getting monthly cheques from Amazon. They’re not huge, they’re not enough to pay the bills with, but they do mean that I’m a published, paid author. I still grin like a kid when I think about that. I feel like I’ve Made It, at least in the indie sphere.

The books are doing well! After some experimentation with pricing, I’m selling roughly 150 books per month. Book 0 (the free one) usually hovers in the middle of Amazon’s top 100 (in science fiction).

I’m also getting some pretty awesome reviews. People keep asking when the next (4th) book is coming out. There’s no more, not yet!

Readers like my work enough to want more. Couldn’t ask for more than that, really.

Writing Community

I wrote about this in reference to NaNo, but it’s worth saying how awesome the people around me have been this year. The group has been building for several years now, and over the past year or so, it has taken on a momentum of its own. I feel that the writers in this city have really gelled and become a wonderful, supportive community that I’m a big part of.

In fact, I’m often leading it, which is intimidating when I stop to think about it. As a NaNoWriMo ML, I naturally do a lot of the coordination, but it extends well outside November. Its monthly write-ins and weekly drinks run all year now, along with my regular writing group.

My Creative Writing Group is still going strong. It has been running for over four years now and I still have a good turnout every month. There are new faces joining and long-standing ones drifting away, but that’s the way of things. We have yet to run out of things to talk about and explore, and if I know my group (which I do pretty well now!), we won’t stop any time soon.

I’ve made many good friends through the various groups and events that I’m a part of. They’ve become dear parts of my life and I’m grateful for all of them. As years go, this one has been a winner in this respect.

Not to mention that I have an actual social life now. Who knew that would happen to me? Who could have predicted that it would come out of what is, essentially, a solitary activity?

Life is strange. And there’s so much more to come.

That has pretty much been my year. Productive, hard work, and progressive. I’m in a better place now than I was at the beginning of the year. I’m getting there, one slow step at a time.

I’m glad 2012 is almost over; I’m done with it. I’m looking forward to closing the book on this year and starting a new one. Next year will be better and brighter.

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