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2021 Recap and 2022 Preview

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I sat down to write this on Boxing Day, two days before it was supposed to go live. The day before, I’d wrapped up an unexpected 50,000-word novel—the second “surprise” novel I wrote in the last twelve months. I began to wonder what 2022 had in store.

I guess, in a lot of ways, that sums up 2021. It’s been busy. Time has clipped right on by, and now we’re sitting at the end of the year. It’s a year that has been full of surprises—some of them frustrating and some of them more pleasant than others.

As we imagine what might happen in 2022, it’s good to take a look back, to see what’s happened, and then prepare for what’s ahead.

Another Pandemic Year

We’re coming up on the third anniversary of the pandemic hitting North America at this point; it’s less than three months away now. We started 2021 deep in lockdown territory. Yet hope remained on the horizon: vaccines were coming.

Still, politics have driven a lot of wedges, and they fueled the pandemic here in my neck of the woods. Governments played numbers games, then tried to convince citizens that it was perfectly all right to send children to sit in classrooms eight hours a day, five days a week. At the same time, it was not okay to gather for a meal.

A young white boy with an orange-brown shirt and short hair twists around in his seat to glare at the classmate sitting behind him. His incredulous look likely sums up how students in 2022 feel.
“What do you mean, your mommy doesn’t believe in masks?” (Max Fischer / Pexels.com)

The logic here is mind-boggling, and political number rigging was in full swing. Cases counted as “school-linked” excluded family members, who then took the virus to work and passed it to their co-workers. The shutdown dragged on from December to May—almost half a year. It did not have to happen that way.

For my part, I spent most of that first quarter separated from my partner. I lived as a hermit in our apartment for three months. I went to the grocery store about once every three weeks, visited with one friend once a week, and saw other family members maybe once a month.

It was a lonely existence, yet one I’m surprisingly suited for. I do well with solitude and plenty of time to myself. In this period, I wrote my first “surprise” novel of 2021, Boardroom Omega. I wrote it over the course of maybe six weeks.

Perhaps most pleasantly, this book just … happened. It was a dream to write. It was a dream to re-read. And it passed beta reading with flying colors, and editor hardly found anything wrong with it either.

Like Pulling Teeth Elsewhere

That January to March period, as awful as it was in many ways, faded into the rear view. With it went my hopes of writing another novel in 2021. I’d spent some time working on the two Zodiac books that I published in 2021—The Bull by His Horns and Lions Will Tame Leopards. But neither of them came easy.

The same was true of other projects I took on. I tried my hand at a short story early in the year, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it or the characters. I tried writing another new idea that came to me for April’s Camp NaNo. When May came, though, I had to set it aside.

Work, too, came with its ups and downs. I’m an editor by trade, which means I get to spend my days working on books, even when I’m not writing. I’d also done some copywriting. Early in the year, though, I realized I had too much on my plate. I decided to take my business in a new direction, re-focusing on books and publishing. I ditched all the copywriting gigs.

That was a ballsy move, and then, in the spring, it paid off big when I landed a new contract. That contract took me back to my roots, but it also ate up a lot of my time. Suddenly, I was right back where I started: too busy.
I was once more juggling writing and the day job. Writing became even more frustrating; I hopped from project to project, barely able to gain traction anywhere.

The Big Move

In June-July, we also moved out of our apartment, beginning a five-month-long trek to buying a single, detached house. That had to start with selling our condo. We moved into my parents’ basement. In the background, my contract was going on, so now I was juggling a move, living with my parents, and the busiest work period I’ve seen in the last five years.

Little wonder writing continued to be like pulling teeth. At the same time, I prepared Lions Will Tame Leopards for publication in late August. Boardroom Omega sailed along once more.

I turned my attention to a short story I’d been trying to prepare for an anthology. My contracted deadline was November 1.

A close up of a woman sitting at a wooden-plank table, marking up a calendar page for November. She holds a pen in one hand, while her other, closer to the camera, holds the sheet.
Me: Ah, feck. (Anete Lusina / Pexels.com)

I’d started writing one story back in the spring, then toyed with it on and off through the summer, but nothing happened. It went nowhere. Vainly, in August, I tried rebooting it again.

It still wasn’t working, so I abandoned it. I wrapped up Boardroom. Then I started writing something else—a short story that was, in some ways, revenge for a very bad story I’d read. I spat out around 25,000 words in the second-to-last week of September. Drunk on finally getting words down on the page and finishing something, I started something else with the intent of finishing it for that November 1 deadline.

I Blew the Deadlines, But Won the House

October sped by with the blink of an eye. I was still busy, but looking forward to the end of the contract. We’d sold the condo in September, and it closed about a month later. We were working on mortgage numbers. We started house-hunting.

I cannot even begin to tell you the epic highs and lows of house-hunting as a self-employed person in this market. The market is insane, designed to keep the average person out. We had a sizable down payment, both of us with long work histories and excellent credit.

We still needed a co-signer. (And then, later, we didn’t.) Then, just when we were approved for “enough” mortgage, the interest rates went up.

We managed to win a decent house (which we’ve just moved into) on the first of November. I knew, at this point, my contract was being extended. I’d also, stupidly, signed up to do NaNoWriMo, plus I was trying to finish that short story I’d foolishly started, thinking I could get it done.

The house set off a march of paperwork hell. That was followed by additional costs being lobbed at us at every twist and turn. On top of that, I did not know if all my contracts would pay out when we were to close—a scant six weeks from the sale date.

The last six weeks of the year—actually, the last seven or eight or so—were a whirlwind. I managed to finish the short story just under the wire of the extended deadline. The anthology hit shelves December 1.

I continued working my contract, running myself ragged, desperately trying to get everyone to pay me, in addition to jumping through hoops to prove my income for the mortgage lender and scrape together the cash. In the end, I had to pull NaNoWriMo. I did come back to that story, and I wrapped up another 80,000-word draft on December 5. We closed the house December 16. I worked until close of business on December 17. Then we moved December 19.

At some point in there, I started working on a (very silly) shifter story, which just continued to rattle on. I finished it on Christmas Day, putting the last few touches on it.

It was 50,000 words, and it had felt so easy to write it all.

Looking Forward to 2022

As I was writing this, 2022 was just six days away. The whirlwind was almost over, but it began again on January 3, when I went back to work. Vacation was eaten up by moving and getting settled, visiting and the holidays.

Yet the holidays were marred once more by COVID. As omicron has emerged, we looked again at a potential lockdown. People scrambled to get booster shots. The government is once again playing numbers games with us. At this stage, the total caseload is less the concern than the number of beds available for those cases that are still severe. The science, of course, still out. But it seems that omicron is mutating along the lines that viruses usually do: more transmissible, to get to more hosts, and less murdery, so we keep passing it ’round and ’round. That’s better for the virus, which is why we usually see them “evolve” that way.

Yet a panicking populace forced another shutdown to kick off 2022. Politicians have tightened restrictions here. While they’re sending kids back to school this week, everything else remains incapacitated. From a capitalist point of view, it makes perfect sense. From any other viewpoint, it’s total nonsense. Either we all need to stay the fuck home or we can carry on. Not this half-assed pastiche we keep trying to run.

It seems we’re right back where we started last year. My partner and I are sitting in our new house, and we’re not planning for him to go south like last year—but we’ll have to see. His hand may be forced by closures. Lack of booster shots or lack of public participation in adhering to masking guidelines may make the caseload so overwhelming that we threaten those ICU beds and cause excess deaths. Only time will tell.

What About Writing in 2022?

I’m not sure what all that means for writing at this stage. My editing business is booking into March and April at this point; we’re impossibly busy in January and February. I’m already worrying about how we’re going to get through it all, on time and doing a good job. People are still emailing me about jobs for January.

I’ve completed two drafts for 2022 already (three, if we count a short story I’ve completed). I’m debating which projects to work on now: a serial, a short story, or one of the other two novels I have planned for the year. I have another Zodiac draft I could haul out of storage and start working on.

I feel unprepared and I’m leery about my time, but I’m also optimistic. I’m not sure I can complete an entire draft in a week, but how deep could I get?

I’ve finished revising the next Omega on Top book. I’m writing two more books and editing a third. (We’ll see which project wins out.) Yet I’m also trying to get back to routine, even as work threatens to overwhelm me. Right now, I have lots of ideas, lots of energy. I’m less sure about whether I’ll have the time to execute.

Right now, I’m feeling pretty confident. And I’m hoping—perhaps against hope, to some degree—to carry that forward with me. Energy and optimism, creativity and routine.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a balance out there.

My 2022 Publication Schedule

Right now, there is only one date set in stone. I hope to publish four times in 2022, just like I did in 2021. (That was the goal for 2021, and I managed it—just barely, but I did.)

The current plan is the new Omega on Top book in May, followed by a Zodiac book in the late summer or early fall, as well as a another non-series novel in the fall. The Zodiac book and the non-series novel are still in the works, so we’ll have to see what 2022 brings me in terms of writing time and motivation.

It’s my hope to start publishing a serial too. One thing I’ve learned about publishing anything on an ongoing basis is that you want to have a lot of material stockpiled. Life comes at you fast—even faster these days, it seems. You want to make sure you have more than you think you need. Because you’re absolutely going to get stuck or run out of ideas or just plain old run out of time. Then you’ll fall off your publishing schedule. I’ve done it. I’ve seen so many people do it.

Last year was a mixed bag, and 2022 is likely to be more of the same. But maybe we can keep it fun. Because if we’re not having fun, what are we doing?

Look for Omega on Top 2–Glitterati Omega—to hit Kindles everywhere on May 19!

About the author

By Cherry

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