Sunday, December 23, 2012

A writer looks back at 2012

The last week or so, I have written three blog posts that I set aside for a while for my own consideration. Each of these posts was quite lengthy, and I wanted to give myself time to digest what I'd written before hitting the "Publish" button. In each case, after a couple of days, I deleted the posts without publishing. Why? Well, the posts had kind of negative vibes to them, and of late I've been feeling we've got enough of that in the world. Besides, it's Christmas.

So, instead of focusing on the negative, I thought I'd take a look back at my reading and writing in 2012, now that the end of the year is approaching.


In reading, I kind of jumped around a lot this year. The first half of 2012 was taken up by my reading quite a bit of Ed McBain, but I stepped away from him for a while because I felt I was getting burnt out a little on him; no worries, though, because I've still got a sizable stack of McBain novels to read, and he's got plenty more available.

One obvious lapse in my reading this year was epic fantasy, or heroic fantasy, action fantasy, whatever you want to call it, including Sword & Sorcery. I did break down a few times and read such literature, but for the most part, I stayed away. This was intentional, not that I've turned from this genre, one of my favorites. The thing is, I spent much of 2010 and 2011 reading this type of fiction, and writing it, so I felt I needed a break. That break will likely continue for some little while, but I've a stack of such books waiting for me, as well as a growing list of fantasy e-books on my Kindle. I'm looking forward to getting back to such fiction, but I have plenty of other books and e-books also to read, and I'd like to whittle away at those some more.

This past year, I've also been on a bit of a Tolstoy kick, having read War and Peace a year or two ago. I wasn't constantly reading Tolstoy's works this past year, but I did read one of his shorter pieces, a biography about him, and a biographical look at him written by one of his children. This trend will also likely continue, at least for a while, as I've several of his books stacked up, and other works of his waiting on my Kindle. It's funny, in a way, because I don't consider Tolstoy a great writer, though many consider him such. I'm much more interested in his personal, spiritual journey and how that affected his writing, than I am his actual fiction writing; because of this, much of the books I have yet to read by him are non-fiction. I'll probably get to some of that this year, maybe.

I did discover several new writers this, at least new to me, and three stand out as new favorites.

First up, there's Edward Lorn, the horror author. More than once I've called Lorn a Stephen-King-lite writer, and I stand by that, and mean it to be a positive (and, thank goodness, Edward has taken it that way). His characters are just as interesting as King's, but without the thousand pages of back story and all the flash backs and usual stuff that goes along with King's fiction. If you like horror, check out Edward Lorn.

Then there's Scott Fitzgerald Gray, who I didn't exactly discover for the first time this past year, but I did read his novel We Can Be Heroes for the first time. It really blew me away, quite possibly my best read of 2012. If you like a mix of science fiction with action and thriller fiction, and some geeky techno stuff thrown in, check out Gray's novel. Also, this is a novel with strong resonance to gamers, more for video gamers but to some lesser extent also board gamers.

The third novelist I read for the first time and enjoyed this past year was Joe Hill, though I'm a bit split on Hill. His novel Heart-Shaped Box I found awesome, worthy of his father (Stephen King, by the way), but his second novel, Horns, I found a bit longish, jumping back for way to many pages to back story, though still written quite well.


2012 was a weird year for me concerning my writing. I started off the year going full blast, with plans to write a novel a month. This quickly went by the wayside by March or so. It wasn't that I couldn't follow through with my plan, but that my interests were being drawn to other forms of fiction. I did write and publish a few novels this year, but I've also produced one five-part series, as well as still working on another one, and I've written a bunch of short stories, at least some of which should see publication in 2013 at various venues. Not all my writing has been a success, and some of it I'll admit is probably not my best work, but it has all been done in the name of learning, and what I sometimes think of as "not my best" turns out to be a favorite of a number of readers.

Still, I did actually pen about 600,000 words of new fiction this past year, and I can live with that. It didn't mean my initial goal of putting out twelve new novels, but that's still a lot of words.

Also, in 2012, I've been doing a lot of experimentation. Most of that experimenting has been done under a pen name, sometimes with good effect (sales), sometimes not.

And no, I won't tell what my pen name is. If you happen to guess correctly, I'll admit it to you, but not publicly (and I'd hope you could keep a secret). It's not that I'm ashamed of anything I've written under my pen name, most of it being fantasy and horror and some action thriller material, but that if my fanbase (whoever small it might be) started buying my e-books under my pen name, then that would ruin my experimenting. In some ways, I'm competing with myself, but I'm also having some fun doing it, and I'm trying a few things that don't necessarily fit with my "name" writings, and aren't necessarily what most of my regular readers are looking for (all three of them).

Next year, in 2013, I'll keep writing, the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise. See you there.


Keith said...

Glad to hear you're still writing. Keep it up. I think your idea of experimenting with a pen name is a good one. I'm not even going to try and guess what it is. I'll just wish you the best of luck and all success under any name you use.

I agree with you that We Can Be Heroes was a fantastic read. It's on my recommended list for the year.

Have a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

Charles Gramlich said...

I had some plans for the pen name sort of thing too this year, but that got derailed early on with Lana's illness. I figured I needed to start thinking today about my future in writing, and where I'm headed from here. Lots to think about.

Ty Johnston said...

Keith, thanks! Come what may, I can't imagine myself not writing, or reading. I could imagine times in which I took a break from both, but it probably wouldn't last long. And best to you and yours in the coming year!

Charles, yeah, I realize you've been kind of busy. But don't give up on the pen name, because you might find yourself having some fun there. Also, I'll be interested to see where you go with your writing, whatever turn it might take.

David J. West said...

Interesting, I have given thought to a pen name as well, simply because David West is actually a terribly common name.
At the same time ego demanded I keep my own name so...

But I have thought about what if, and doing what you're doing, just to see how it might stand up in a different light.

And 600,000 words = WELL DONE

I doubt I topped 150,000 this year myself, so you are truly an inspiration.

All the best this Christmas and on into the new year Ty!

Keith said...

I'm using the name Harold Barksdale for my fiction to distinguish it from my blogging and nonfiction, which is under my real name. I started using the pseudonym when I was in a tenure-track position. The attitude of the administration was time spent on fiction was time not spent trying to get funding with large amounts allocated for indirect costs, i.e., money the admin could use to supplement the budget. Such activities would be held against those going up for tenure.

Fortunately, that's no longer a consideration since I'm not at the institution any more. I'm still toying with using an open pen name on some things which might not be for everyone and will contain more graphic content than I usually include. That way those who might be offended will know to avoid those works.