It’s New Year’s Eve 2023 (around 8am) which means it’s the ideal time for me to do my traditional recap of my writing efforts over the year.

The routine

I’ve already recapped the first half of the year right here, so I won’t retread that old ground suffice to say that things have mostly slipped into routine again but I do still need to nail down a proper writing schedule / habit / whatever. For the latter half of 2023 I more or less accepted that I was going to be able to write in the mornings on alternating weeks (for reasons that are far too domestic to bore you with here). While I did find a couple of suitable spots in my workplace I never truly settled on a single, ideal location—it didn’t help that sometimes other people had the audacity to already be sitting in the publically available location that I had preselected for my morning’s writing. People, eh?

So, while I got writing done during the year there was a continual distraction revolving around finding the right place to sit and write, or having to find an alternative place depending on the whims of the rest of the human race.

One thing I did find happening was the occasional urge to write in the evenings: something of a problem given I’d gotten rid of my writing desk. I considered a few possibilities, including writing at my main PC in the front room (oddly, I’ve never felt that comfortable writing on the PC; likely because there’s too much scope for distraction—something that doesn’t happen so much with the ipad). In the end the best solution appeared to be a slight rearrangement of the bedroom (really, the only place sufficiently free of interruption for me to write in) and the purchase of a suitably small desk that wouldn’t prove an obstruction. 

After a fair bit of research (and the disappointing lack of availability of what would have been the perfect desk) I settled for a small 60x40cm desk (my purchase decision helped by a healthy discount) and that’s what I’m writing at right now. 

If you noted the time at the top of this post you might have already concluded that I’m using this desk for morning writing as well. I’ve tried it out for the last couple of days and, yes, it looks like doing my morning writing before I leave for work may, again, be the best option. We do have some incoming changes to the household morning routine next year (primarily two kids starting high school) so flexibility is going to remain the order of the day for at least a few months yet.

The writing

As per 2022 I opted not to record my word counts in the traditional spreadsheet. I’m still reasonably happy with this approach, though not fully committed, and plan to continue not doing this for 2024. The disadvantage is that I lose the quick at-a-glance reference for all of my writing over the year, but the plus side is that I won’t punish myself when I see how (potentially) low my word counts were.

Starting with a brief summary:

  • Stories finished: 6
  • Stories started: 4

One of the major issues with Scrivener (my preferred writing tool) is that it doesn’t provide a revision history, so I get no visibility of the various dates and times that I might have worked on a story. That being noted, I’m fairly certain that all of these stories were started this year, so I’m pretty happy with that output.

Finished stories

Four of those finished stories would count as fan-fiction, inspired separately by Alien, The Thing, The Terminator and an episode of Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix. During the earlier part of the year I found myself needing to write, but lacking the focus to properly develop new stories and characters so dabbling in pre-established universes helped take some of that load off. You can read three of these stories by following the links below:

The Terminator story is part of a planned collection (as outlined in my earlier blog post). There will be five stories—at least that’s the current plan—and I hope to wrap this project up (and release all the stories together) early in 2024. 

Of the two other stories one was an unplanned tale inspired by a Magritte painting. It’s predictable, but entertaining and you can read it by following the link below.

The Lover

The final story was, I believe, inspired by a book I read at the end of last year about the cosmos (The Universe in Your Hand by Christophe Galfard- very good, go and read it if that’s your sort of thing). I’m holding this one back as it’s probably the only story I’ve written this year that is actually submittable for publication anywhere. We’ll see …

Unfinished stories

Of the four unfinished stories, only one of them has been worked on with any degree of earnestness. This is the story I mentioned in my mid-year post about an explorer who discovers a deeply buried secret about the origin of his society. It’s ended up being two stories mashed together and has required a greater degree of world-building than I’m typically used to. And, because I need to make things as hard as possible I’ve opted to tell it using a non-linear narrative with the last half of the story being told backwards. You can probably blame all of the Christopher Nolan films I’ve watched this year for that.

I have written a reasonable chunk of this one and it’s my next writing priority, so keep your fingers crossed that I can pull this one off.

The other three stories were all random ideas that popped up during the year and I’ll share the prompts that got me started on these for your entertainment:

  • what if being ‘wishlisted’ meant something sinister? what if you were being wishlisted? and for what?
  • what if there was a literal price for death? a cost associated with every death that you cause, whether deliberate or accidental? (this one very much inspired by the movie In Time, which is pretty good!)
  • two people hunting each other across a remote planet, neither remembering why (this is the same story I referenced in my previous blog post)

Other projects and novels

I have three other projects that remain very close to my heart, and which I would also like to make progress on in 2024 (somehow this post has shifted from 2023 reflection into a 2024 resolution!)

My collection of short stories linked together by the end of the universe is still very much on the front burner. I mostly need to organise what I’ve done already and work out where the gaps are so I can plan to get those bits written.

The completed novel. Yes, I did complete a novel a year or two ago. While I’m 95% happy with it, I still want to do a final edit before I attempt to send it out. I enjoy editing, but I’m mindful that time spent editing is time not spent writing so I need to be wary of falling into an editing hole for weeks on end.

The sci-fi novel. I wrote about half of a sci-fi novel a few years back. The idea of it keeps on popping back onto my head demanding to be finished. I stalled on this one due to a few small issues with plot logistics, but those are mostly solved now so it’s just a case of refreshing my plans for it and knuckling down. Maybe something for the latter half of next year?

And that’s it! Tune in during 2024 for inevitable updates and wish me luck. In return, I wish you all the best for your writing endeavours or wherever your hobbies or passions take you in 2024.