Every year, I like to take a moment to look back at what I’ve done. In my line of work, rewards are disconnected from effort by time — the high of having work out in the world comes ages after the grind of creating that work. I find it helpful to pause at regular intervals to look back so I don’t fall for the mirage of stagnancy that comes with a lull between publication dates. I keep a running Spreadsheet Of Doom with all my deadlines and projects on it, and I use it to track my wordcount progress, too; the record-keeping is a little onerous, but it gives me something concrete to look at so I know what I’ve done.
This year, I’m kind of skidding into the end of 2021 sideways and on fire. Like so many of us, I’m bone-deep tired. 2021 took the wind out of me. I’ve been trying to hold lots of compassion for my limited capacity, the same way I would for anyone else — but as always, I sat down to do my year in review and thought: I barely got anything done this year.
To call that notion incorrect would be a serious understatement.
In 2021, I migrated Stone Soup from Substack to Ghost. I released a new book, and a paperback version of a book that was already out in the world, and a debut comic miniseries. I wrapped 1 new novel (and did two rounds of comprehensive rewrites on that same book). I wrote 2 new novellas, 1 new novel outline and pitch, 7 comic book scripts, 4 short stories (one of which is available to read here), 3 nonfiction pieces (here, here, and here), 1 guest of honor keynote speech, and 196 pieces for Stone Soup. I wrote 24 recipes.
In all, according to The Spreadsheet, I wrote around 520,615 words in 2021.
Looking at that number feels like looking at a diagnosis. Ah, that’s why I feel this way. I’d be lying if I said no part of me was satisfied to see the full breakdown — but a larger part of me smells smoke. These numbers are kindling for my looming burnout. I still love my work, which is part of why I continue to push myself harder and harder. I always want to outdo myself on a craft level, in volume, and in the courage I put into what I create.
But it’s time for me to recognize that parts break from overuse. Another year like this will grind things out of me that I can’t get back. I love my work too much to let it digest me.
For the first time, I’m setting a goal to write less next year than I did this year.
I can’t talk about most of my upcoming work, because of the way publishing works. That said, I can talk about what you can expect as a subscriber to this newsletter! I experimented a bit throughout 2021 to see what resonated best with all of you, and in 2022, I’m going to trim away some of the less-popular content to focus on The Good Stuff.
If you sign up for a free subscription to Stone Soup, you’ll get:
- A weekly round-up of my favorite things from around the internet
- My favorite books of each month
- Occasional guest features
- Career updates and announcements
If you sign up for a paid subscription, you’ll get all that, plus:
- Our weekly subscriber chat featuring a truly lovely community and exclusive kitten content
- A book and a recipe to share every month
- A monthly writing/coworking date, during which time we’ll spend a couple of hours creating things in tandem
- Access to a lush backlog of paid content, including recipes, book recommendations, playlists, and exclusive original fiction.
Paid subscriptions make it so I can do my job with a modicum of financial stability and predictability; in 2022, they’ll make it so I can afford to slow down a little, too. Your subscription would mean the world to me. Right now, I’m running a year-end special! You can get a paid subscription at a 20% discount. This sale will run through the first week of the year.
I hope to see you in the weekly subscriber chat at the end of that week!