2022 – A Year in Review And a Look Ahead to 2023

I went into this year with some high expectations for myself. Ever since I began this blog more than five years ago, I’ve been wanting to transition from just talking about writing and how I wanted to be a writer to being a writer once again.

One of the cliches about writing is that it is a long process, especially when you are factoring publishing companies into the mix. It’s true, though. If you are going to do it right, developing your writing skills and knowledge is a time-consuming process, especially if you are trying to craft what you have to say rather than just splattering it across the page or the laptop screen.

For the first time in 2022, I decided to set a yearly writing goal for myself. I’d had a downturn in my productivity, and I wanted to have a better year. So, I figured that setting that yearly goal was Based on the records that I had been keeping consistently since 2018, I decided that 200,000 words in a year was a nice, clear, reachable goal for myself. Also, based off that past data, I decided that making my daily writing quota (which is 500 words per day or 30 minutes worth of revisions and/or planning) at least 70 percent of the time was also reachable.

After a year’s worth of work, I have to say that at least from a productivity standpoint, this year was certainly the case.

First, just to get a little perspective, here are my writing statistics for the second half of 2022, compared with the first half. [AUTHOR’S NOTE: All word and revision/planning averages are monthly averages.]

Writing statistics, 1st half of 2022:
Words (total): 110,342
Words (avg.): 18,390
Revise/Plan (total): 1,350 minutes.
Revise/Plan (avg.): 225 minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (avg.): 74%

Writing statistics, 2nd half of 2022:
Words (total): 104,043
Words (avg.) 17,341
Revise/Plan (total): 1,950 minutes.
Revise/Plan (avg.): 325 minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (avg.): 72%

As you’ll note, there was a slight 6,000-word drop between the first half of the year and the second half. I was only a couple percentage points off my first-half pace when it came to meeting my daily quotas, but I added another 600 more minutes working on revisions and planning. Overall, there was a slight decrease in productivity, but not a disastrous one.

Although I have been keeping records of my writing since at least 2013, I have only been keeping full records of my writing production since 2018. For example, I only totaled up the full year’s numbers for 2013 (I recorded a word count of 125,453).

Now, looking at the yearly totals, I’m glad to see a pattern of clear growth.

Yearly writing statistics, 2018-2022:
Words (total): 53,878
Words (avg.): 4,490
Revise/Plan (total): 8,955 minutes
Revise/Plan (avg.): 746 minutes
Daily Writing Goals Met: 52%

Words (total): 193,881
Words (avg.) 16,157
Revise/Plan (total):  8,865 minutes
Revise/Plan (avg.): 739 minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met: 78%

Words (total): 208.919
Words (avg.): 17,410
Revise/Plan (total): 4,290 minutes
Revise/Plan (avg.): 358 minutes
Daily Writing Goals Met: 62%

Words (total): 176,146
Words (avg.) 14,679
Revise/Plan (total): 2,115 minutes.
Revise/Plan (avg.): 176 minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met: 58%

Words (total): 214,385
Words (avg.): 17,865
Revise/Plan (total): 3,300
Revise/Plan (avg.): 275
Daily Writing Goals Met: 73%

So, I set a new personal record of 214,385 words, 5,000-plus words more than my previous ones. My revising and planning time weren’t personal bests, but they were better than the previous year’s. And, I beat my goal of meeting my quota 70 percent of the time by three percentage points, which is the second best year for me regarding that statistic.

Most people might be leaning back and celebrating what they had accomplished if they were in my position. Now, I did do a little of that, maybe for a couple of days. But probably one of the biggest changes in my mentality during the past couple of years is that my thoughts immediately turned to 2023. What goals would I need to set for that year? What would I do for the next act? The one thing I realized, however, is that I couldn’t do exactly the same thing.

Exactly is the operative word here. I think it would be pretty much expected that I would consistently crack 200,000 words per year, given my past record. That’s what I am going to shoot for in 2023.

I also would like to write with a more consistent output and not take as many mental breaks this year. I think it is possible that I could meet my daily quota at least 75 percent of the time. Looking over my stats from last year, I could have gotten really close to meeting that goal this year if I had just applied myself a little more.

More importantly, from reviewing last year’s numbers, I now have a very clear idea of how often I would have to meet my daily writing quota to match that percentage. Basically, if I was writing in a four-week month and meeting my quota five out of seven days three weeks and six out of seven days that fourth week, I would get to 75 percent without much difficulty.

The other goals, are a little less straightforward right now. However, I’m going to try and outline them here.

One of these is slightly out of my control – I would like to get this second book, The Yank Striker, published. Right now it is in my publisher’s hands and much about the release and production of that book is up to them. When it finally comes out this year, however, I would like to have a proper launch and promo push for that book. Much of that will be in my hands. However, I think I have a slightly better chance of doing well with that push if I am closer to the main media market in Iowa (Des Moines). We will see how that will go.

In addition, The Yank Striker will be part of a series of books coming out about this American soccer star, so I am now in the process of writing the sequel to that book. It is my expectation that I should have a rough draft ready by this fall and able to deliver it to my publisher (Biblio) by around that time.

I also want to continue to grow my Substack page (I’ve got a plug for that below). My plan is to continue to post on a regular basis. I have managed to post more or less every weekend on my blogs. I want to try to keep to that weekly schedule, and try and get more consistent with what days I publish. (As of right now, I end up usually publishing on Sundays because… well, deadlines making a whooshing sound as they fly by my head and all that.

Those are my clear, line in the sand writing goals for 2023. The next few ones are a little more nebulous in nature, and might be a little more difficult to determine whether I reach them.

I would like to try and see if I would be able to use a paid subscription option for the Substack, and maybe even for this blog here. Now, it’s going to take a while for me to determine how that’s going to work, and what portion of those sites will remain free and what portion will be a subscription. I do believe, however, that I might be able to start generating some pay for some of the stuff I do online, even if it’s minuscule compared to my day job. I also want to make sure I am generating some exclusive content for those paid subscribers on a regular basis, as well – maybe bi-weekly or something like that. If I want people to give me money, they need to see the value in it.

I also want to begin some serious planning and work on a fantasy fiction project. My fandom for Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, George R.R. Martin, and others has made me want to try my hand at a fantasy series of my own. I’ve had the kernel of an idea for such a series for a while, but nothing yet that could resemble a plot or cast of characters yet. It’s more like a concept, with a larger theme of the progress of man and society as opposed to old myths and beliefs.

Like I said, it’s a vague idea as of yet, with maybe just a couple of characters in mind so far. I’m hoping by the end of this year, I will have a better outline for the series in place and a good world-build.

I think I am going to stick to those goals for now. Past experience has taught me that trying to accomplish too many goals at once is a surefire way of not meeting the majority of them.

Take care, everyone.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

Writing on the Holidays Can be Tough: A Christmas Post

The holidays are not always the easiest time to write stuff, even though I’m officially “not working.”

It’s not like I don’t have the time to write, for sure. In fact, my wife said to go ahead and write for a bit later Christmas Eve. I managed about a hundred-plus words before I decided to join my wife in bed for the night.

My daughter got home on Friday and I wound up hanging out with her for most of the evening she got home. I spent a good portion of Christmas Eve afternoon going up to Des Moines to pick up my son after he got off work and brought him home.

Both of my kids are now in their twenties, my daughter just in her twenties. Although there was a good year recently when they were hanging out at home, my son working in Chariton and my daughter going to school online, it’s been since August since they were both in my house at the same time.

The main point is, I know those times will be fewer and far between as they continue to build their own independent lives. It’s the same situation as it is now with my parents. I cherished the times I had with them growing up and any extra time I get with them I want to be there. And if it means that I take a vacation from writing for a few days, so be it. I hit my writing record, anyway.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas and assorted holiday season. Take care, everyone.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the link below.

Go ahead and sign up for my Substack and mailing list here.

Writing Journal 21 December 2022: Over the line and into extra time (mixing my sporting metaphors LOL)

I had the crazy idea earlier this year that I might want to write at least 200,000 words this year. I was motivated to do that after I had a slump of writing a lot less than that and realizing I wanted to have standards for myself for once. I had managed to equal that output in 2020, writing an all-time record of 208,919 during that year. I had the feeling I could do it again.

According to my estimates, I finally got over the line to break my official record sometime on 13 December 2022 (Tuesday). I then wrote another 404 words the next day and then my new productivity fell off a cliff, as you will see from last week’s numbers. As of the end of 17 December 2022 (Saturday), I’m now sitting at 209,611 words for this year. Yay, me.

Anyway, here’s last week’s totals:

Writing statistics for the week ending 17 December 2022:
1,711 words written.
Days writing: 4 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 3 of 7 for 120 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

To paraphrase a saying from longtime Manchester City fans, that’s typical Liegois for you – get right over that finish line (or sometime close to it) and I mentally just bug out. I think the fact that we had the last bit of the World Cup going on this week and it is getting close to the winter break for my school and both students and teachers alike are eying the exits.

However, one of the things that I swore to myself is that while self-analysis can be good, and it has helped me better understand my mental blocks and foibles when it comes to writing, there is a time when you can over rely on it.

I have seen parallels between how I see writing and how many of my students see writing. In their case, many of them don’t have the desire to be good writers. Part of that is because they aren’t interested in the craft (just like I wasn’t interested in algebra and geometry thirty years ago), but part of that is because they have convinced themselves that they can’t get any better as writers. Do I think that I can help develop people with little to no writing abilities into fantastic, top class writers? No, that’s not realistic, and I admit as much to them. But do I think it is possible for anyone to improve how they write? I absolutely do.

It was 10 years ago or so when I realized that I was talking to myself about being a writer rather than actually writing, and I started thinking about how I would change that. It was five years ago when I started this blog and decided that I would start to chronicle that development process, as well as any insights and advice that I had managed to pick up along the way. I managed to stick to writing online, even when I struggled to post anything online other than just random writing thoughts or a record of how many words I wrote the previous week.

Then I started writing more. Then I managed to actually get a book published (and it looks like another one is on the way) a couple of years ago. Then the yearly totals started to grow… and they shrank from the previous year and that made me irritated beyond measure, even though I had gone for years in the past without writing a single creative word.

I’m looking at what I accomplished this year, how I started a new Substack page, how I’m more productive than ever… and it’s not enough now. I want to do more, keep pushing myself to higher levels. I want to keep publishing, I want to grow my Substack and this blog, and I want to accomplish more. It has not been or will it be an easy or smooth process. But I’m finally starting to see the gains that I have been making over the past several years, and I want more of it.

So, here’s my typical plea to sign up for my Substack page. Enjoy.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

Writing Journal 14 December 2022: Juuust shy of my all-time official word count record

As of Sunday (11 December 2022), I am juuust 1,920 words away from beating my all-time official yearly word count of 208,919, set back in the quarantine year of 2020.

Although there is an outside chance that I might have equaled that count by the time this journal posts online, I am all but certain to match it by the time this week is done. All I can say is now I have a vague idea of what it might be like playing in a World Cup final up 4-0 in the 85th minute of regulation. All I’m looking to see is how much I can run up the score before all is said and done.

To update everyone on how things are going generally, which includes an upcoming project, I think that I’ll wait to do that this upcoming weekend. For now, I’m just going to list last week’s totals and the obligatory plea to join my mailing list and Substack page. Take care, everyone.

Writing statistics for the week ending 10 December 2022:
+3,145 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 4 of 7 for 150 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 7 of 7 days.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

Grant Wahl is Dead.

I’m watching the replay of the Argentina v. Netherlands World Cup quarterfinal as I write this. I just learned that it was the last game this man ever covered.

Grant Wahl

At first it was just a strange Instagram post from his brother and some broken-heart emojis from former United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) player turned broadcaster Taylor Twellman. Then the reports came in from CNN, the Wall Street Journal, TMZ, as well as the tributes from Major League Soccer and the United States Soccer Federation. Grant Wahl, one of the best sportswriters in America, was dead.

Part of me is shocked this has affected me so much, but perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise, even though I never met the man personally. However, he was a writer that I truly admired.

Past readers of this site already know about my obsession with soccer. It was a few years after my fandom with the USMNT began in 1994. I was an avid reader of Sports Illustrated in the waning days when magazines and print were still king and the Internet was just an oddity. Most of the pages were filled with pro football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and the college sports. Only very occasionally, in those days, did coverage of soccer exist. On those stories having to do, for example, with the fledgling Major League Soccer or the ups and downs of the USMNT, I began to notice the byline of Grant Wahl.

There was really nobody writing about soccer with as much depth of knowledge as Grant did. He could help you understand the sport both from a technical standpoint as well as the behind-the-scenes business of soccer, the wheeling and dealing of sports owners and the machinations of federation officials.

I didn’t realize at the time that he had begun his career as a student journalist at Princeton University, where he covered a men’s soccer team coached by future MLS Cup-winning coach and USMNT head coach Bob Bradley. That connection gave him the chance to travel to Argentina for a summer and study the legendary Buenos Aires club Boca Juniors. He had some great opportunities presented to him and he took them.

In comparison, my journalism career was much more modest by comparison. But, like the political writers who descended on my state every four years to cover the boondoggle that was the Iowa Caucuses, I never resented someone else’s success. I just appreciated learning more about the game I loved over the years.

Wahl eventually ended up covering eight World Cups, four Olympics, and 12 NCAA basketball tournaments. He wrote the definitive book on English superstar David Beckham’s arrival in the US and his effect on the American league, as well as another good book on 21st Century soccer, too.

The idiots who were publishing Sports Illustrated at the time kicked Wahl off the magazine back in 2020 when he started speaking out about their budget cuts. That was a too-familiar story to me as well, after seeing newsrooms throughout Iowa shrinking because short-sighted bean-counters wanted to keep their high profit margins and squeeze as much profit from their businesses before they collapsed in exhaustion.

But Grant kept going, working for CBS and Fox Sports as an on-air analyst. He’d gotten on Substack a while ago and was continuing to produce great writing. It was cool for me to be on the same platform as him and other great writers, such as some of the great Iowa print journalists I had worked beside years ago and were now finding new life on a new medium.

I had just signed up as a subscriber to his Substack last week. Yesterday, I was pondering whether to become a paid subscriber to his site. And, now he’s gone.

I hadn’t realized that Grant was just a year younger than me, and from all I’d seen and heard of, I’d thought he was in a lot better shape than I was. I’d known of a few writers who ended up dying on the job, but this one hit me hard.

I admired his writing. It was part of my education as a soccer fan and as a writer. If it were not for his writing, I don’t think I would have even attempted to write a fiction project about an American soccer player. But, I did.

If his dying reinforces anything for me, it is to treasure the experiences you have and the time that you have in this life. For the past few years, I have been trying to become a better writer, to hone my craft and become something more than I was. In whatever time I have, I want to make the best use of it. From what I read of his work, Grant Wahl did just that.

I Made it to This Year’s Writing Goal

It’s been a long year, but I’m glad that I’ve found this bit of success this year.

I had long set a goal for me to write 200,000 words this year. As of 2:30 PM Central Time today, I am at 200,063, with more than a month to spare.


My current full record for a year that I have been keeping records of is 208,919 back in 2020. This is certainly reachable before the year is out.

I had hoped to meet my daily quota of 500 words a day or 30 minutes of revisions and/or planning at least 70 percent of the time this year. I’m not sure exactly when I will be statistically secure on that goal, but I expect that it will happen soon.

Some of the things that I have experienced this year have given me a lot to think about. I’ll have to consider what my writing goals will look like next year.

Upward and onward, then.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

What I’m Writing About Recently, or I’m Writing This Just To Write Something

[PHOTO NOTE: My current Facebook profile pic. Just because.]

Sometimes I get into a situation where I know I should be writing but I can’t manage to do the right type of writing.

By most metrics, I think I’ve had a pretty productive writing year so far, and I think it will get better by the end of the year. However, I’m also going through a bit of a transition. For the past couple of years, I was writing fan fiction and spending most of my mental and creative energy in that sphere. It has been a wonderful experience and I have a strong feeling that it helped me recapture my passion for writing once again, but I feel like I should be talking some of the other writing that I have planned seriously. I wanted to get back to writing books again and doing more with this site. I even talked about it for a few weeks recently.

However, it turns out that sometimes people can wind up trying to do a whole bunch at once and find themselves frozen, so to speak. Well, perhaps I might only be speaking for myself, but it is true for me, at least. I think this is partially because I get used to working in certain ways and when I get out of what I’m used to doing, that can mess with me. In years past, that would have just convince me not to write anything. However, since I’ve actually decided to get serious about my writing during the past several years, that’s not really an option that I feel comfortable exercising. Even though everyone has off days and I certainly have days where I don’t write a single word, the fact that I do that too many days in a row makes me uncomfortable in a way it never did before.

I want to be creative and I definitely feel better mentally when I accomplish any sort of writing, whether it’s serious writing, fun writing, or even just a good round of revisions. So, in lieu of writing anything else, I thought I’d discuss some of the observations I’ve had about some of my current work habits and why it might be sometimes challenging to write in some circumstances. For me, it beats not writing, so I hope any writers out there get some benefit from it.

  1. Conventional book-writing and fan fiction writing have two particular differences that I have noticed. The first of these is how you go about putting together the work. In fan fiction, most writers post their fiction as they write it, in individual chapters. As a consequence, you are writing your work in chronological order as you work on it, or else readers would have no idea what was going on.
    This can be a sticky situation when you get to a point in your writing where it’s a slow part of the story and you don’t have as much enthusiasm for that particular scene. However, it can be a valuable way for you to realize that you either need to cut the scene altogether or drastically shorten it, so in that sense it can be valuable.
    In the case of book fiction, however, you don’t publish as you go. You only put out the book when you finish the entire work. Because of this fact, you have the ability to write sections of the book in whatever sequence you like, just like how movie and television directors often shoot scenes out of sequence. I began this practice in recent years for three particular reasons. It encourages me to write the most interesting scenes first, and thus encourages writing productivity. I also find that it indirectly encourages me to eventually leave out those scenes, which I think speeds up the action and pace of the narrative. So, that is an advantage of novel writing.

    The second difference, on the other hand, concerns overall word count. In the world of online fan fiction, there is no real limit to the amount of words you can write. I ended up writing more than a half million words for one series that I’m doing and nobody would blink and eye at it.
    When it comes to conventional publishing, however, keeping a narrative under a certain word count is more expected. Novels are typically between 60,000 to just under 100,000. Fantasy and science fiction authors can go a bit over that mark, but otherwise, publishers want you to keep those books at a certain length.
    I just took a look at the new manuscript I’m working on – essentially a sequel for the new book that’s coming out (watch this space for further announcements on that). I’m informally settling on a word count of about 80,000 to 95,000 for the book. I just started writing it in earnest two weeks ago. I took a look at my word count and I’m already up to 8,000 words. I feel like I just started telling the story. It’s a limitation for sure. However, maybe it’s a good limitation – not all of those unabridged novels and director’s cut films are genius-level works of art.
  2. Sticking to writing deadlines is a bit tough for me. I have usually been sticking to putting out my writing journals on WordPress every Wednesday recapping my word count and work for the previous week. Then again, those are pretty standard to put together because I’m usually just posting numbers and making the odd comments about them
    Making creative content, stuff like writing advice and those A Writer’s Biography posts, is a bit more work. I’ve been trying to write a content-rich post every weekend, but as you might notice from the timestamp on this one, that gets a bit difficult. (I was thinking that I was going to get something posted by Saturday, ha ha.)
    This is a skill that I think will be a work in progress for me. And, I realize that I’m not the only one with this type of problem. I’ve been gratified in recent years to learn that two of my creative idols growing up – the late great novelist Douglas Adams, and the cartoonist Berke Breathed, were notorious for missing deadlines. That helps me keep it in perspective.
  3. It’s tough to try and get a good word count going and be a poet.
    I’ve started to write poetry (and have shown some of them on this site), but they don’t really add to the word count, do they? I mean, I managed to get this post well over a thousand words without too much effort, but verse is a totally different animal than prose. Poets often go through just as much work to put together a group of words that a prose writer would put in to write ten times as many words. My writing group has been pondering this question for a while and wondering what a rightfully equivalent amount of writing would be for poets.
    Since I’ve been working at trying to write 200,000 words this year, obviously this has discouraged me from spending too much time on poetry. Something I might keep in mind when I am considering next year’s writing goals.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Take care of yourselves, everyone.

Writing Journal 19 October 2022: Feeling productive

I’ve had two great weeks in a row of writing, and it’s felt good.

I didn’t quite write as much as I did last week, but I’m feeling quite good about the numbers.

I feel like I’m writing something of value, something that I think has something to say. Whether or not it will lead to anything when it comes to financial considerations – well, as I mentioned before, that’s not something that’s a… major concern to me, but there might be some possibilities out there that I can’t quite get into just yet.

Here’s the numbers for last week:

Writing statistics for the week ending 15 October 2022:
+4,869 words written.
Days writing: 7 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 7 of 7 days.

As of the end of last week, I have written 176,007 words toward my 2022 goal of 200,000. Even if I have my worst three months of writing in a row (12,563 words during the month of May), I would still be more than 10,000 words ahead of my goal. And my first two weeks of October have not been bad at all. As far as making my goal of meeting my daily work quota (500 words per day or 30 minutes of revisions/planning work) 70 percent of the time, I’m currently averaging meeting my quota 74 percent of the time.

Again, I’m not assuming anything. You can always have writer’s block, you can always run into a dry period. I’ve gone through those many a time. But, it’s looking less and less likely that any major slump is going to keep me away from my goals. It should also be said that this might be a record year of productivity. My biggest year since I’ve been keeping track of my writing numbers from these journals was 208,919 in 2020. That record is certainly in danger of being topped. The highest percentage of times I’ve met my writing quota is 78 percent of the time in 2019, and there is an outside chance of me at least matching that level. We’ll have to see about that one.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. I’ll be back in a while – definitely this weekend. Is there a day that I should select to put out new work? I’m thinking it might be Saturday, but sometimes I can’t get it in gear until Sunday lol.

“Work” Writing Vs. “Fun” Writing: A Reflection (Part 3/3)

Well, I’ve been trying to shovel out a lot of what our current president might call malarkey, so I figure that I might want to try and bring it to a close.

I started my writing life harboring a small little hope that someday, my talent and great stories might end up making me rich and famous.

As I approach a half century of life, I now realize that my writing goes beyond notions of fame and fortune. I realize that I would be writing and creating even if nobody was reading it. I realize that I would be flinging my work into the electronic beyond even if I didn’t know that someone would be reading it and be interested in it.

It is nice, however, to have someone praise your work and tell you that you are a great writer. That’s the truth even if you don’t know exactly who those people are and couldn’t be relied on to pick out those people in front of you even if they were wearing name tags that bore the usernames that they went by in the electronic Wild West. None of that matters.

As a responsible writing instructor at the secondary educational level (and previously at the post-secondary educational level), this is where I would start insisting, quite annoyingly, that the author of whatever nonfiction writing piece that they are trying to create (and this is, by clear definition, a nonfiction writing piece) needs to lay out, in a single sentence, if possible, what the thesis of their writing is. If they are not able to recite this sentence for me, I often insist, then they will be lost regarding what the intent and purpose of their writing is, and more importantly, their readers will have no idea what in the bloody frozen hells of the lower levels of Hades what the purpose is of what they are writing.

So, I’m going to see if I can manage some sort of thesis statement not just for this piece of writing, but also for the previous two ones in this series. In addition, I think that by definition, it is going to end up being a working thesis statement regarding who I am as a writer.

When I was a kid, I self-identified as a writer. This was what I wanted to be when I grew up, this was how I was going to Make My Living. I also had a small little ambition to become a Famous Novelist, but like all sorts of fame and success, I didn’t know how much talent, desire, and luck1 you needed to get to that point. I had at least just enough of the first one and plenty of the second one, but the third I had no more than most typical people and I hadn’t learned yet how critical that can be when it comes to fame and success. You can almost certainly succeed if you have sufficient levels of all three qualities, but if you only have even just two or one of them, you’d have as much as a chance as most people have on the lottery.

When I was a younger man, there were many times where I did describe myself as a writer but I almost felt like a fraud doing it. Yes, I was making money off my writing skills, first as a journalist, and then as a teacher. In the former case, I certainly could say I was a published author, but it wasn’t like I was a novelist or anything. I had set aside my writing for a while, and there were years that went by where I hadn’t written a single word of fiction. Those novelist dreams of mine kept getting further and further away.

Now, I have actually gotten to be a published writer, even though I am far from A Success yet. I have been concentrating on improving my writing skills, both from a productivity and a quality standpoint. I am starting to see results. The fact that I am not supporting myself as a writer, or that I am producing some work that has no economic or marketing potential whatsoever, is totally irrelevant.

I am a writer because I want to write, I am writing, and I want to grow and improve my craft. No other definition is needed.

How’s that for a thesis statement?

So now, I don’t have any existential debates anymore about whether I’m a writer or not. Whether I’m as good or as productive of a writer as I should be, however… that is a different story.

I’ve managed to set some goals for myself this year. Maybe you heard about them. I know I will have to continue to set new goals and challenges for myself in the years to come. I’m in the process of considering what those goals should be, and I think self-publishing is going to be at the top of that list.

Keep going upward and forward, for as long as my health and faculties hold up. There’s still a ways to go, and any lifetime is never enough time to learn everything that there is to know about writing.


  1. Luck I define as any other outside forces or circumstances that fall in your favor when you are trying to accomplish something.

A Self-Publisher’s Progress, or Lack Of It: Why I’m Going to Go the Self-Publishing Route

These are interesting times.

You might remember that I managed to get a book published with an outside publisher a couple of years back. That was a feather in my cap, certainly, and I crossed a big item off my bucket list in the process.

Since then… I have not yet had a chance to publish another book. The publishing company I worked with previously is not accepting new fiction, so that avenue is closed to me. I have at least one or two possibilities for projects I could move forward with. I have at least one that is almost publishing ready, except for a few items.

So, I am faced with two different possibilities. First, there’s option of trying once again to find a publisher or agent willing to work with me to put together a new project. They would have a better idea of the current publishing climate than I would, obviously, and more connections in that area as well. Usually you won’t get a look from any of the Big FIve publishers – Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan – without an agent1. It’s a long-term process, as well – getting a book through the publishing process even if you succeed can take months and even years at a time, not even counting the initial writing process.

Or, I can go the self-publishing route. Selling physical books on demand is easier than ever thanks to Amazon, and e-book distribution can cut out even more middlemen out if you want to go the all e-book route. (As for me, I am too much of a traditionalist to totally abandon physical books. There I would be my own boss and have the majority of the profits. How much of those profits there would be is an open question. Some people can make a tidy career out of this. For others, the revenue is few and far between.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this. As a result, I have elected to go the self-publishing route.

There are two main reasons that I’ve made that decision.

The first has to do with fame and fortune. When I was a kid, I may have had a small little dream to be a Stephen King-level writer. He was one of my idols, so of course I was going to think that. Then it turned out that for a long time I didn’t write a lot of stuff, as a young man. It would take me a long time to build up to being a consistently productive writer, and even then I wouldn’t imagine that I could be as productive as King, even in the early cocaine days2.

There are so many writers out there trying to make a name for themselves. A good number of them are truly great and talented, and most have at least some talent. Very few of them “make it,” just like so many talented actors, dancers, musicians, and other artists don’t make it. The ones who make it are successful enough to have publishing contracts, book advances, and teams of agents, attorneys, publicists, and other handlers to make their lives easier.

I don’t think that is going to happen to me.

I’d say that realistically, I am at the halfway point of my life. If it hasn’t happened at this point, I see an even smaller chance of it happening to me, even as you hear the tales of older authors becoming an “overnight” success. So if such a fate is not likely to happen to me, I shouldn’t want to concentrate on doing things with that in mind. I’d rather have full control over my fate, no matter what sort of financial rewards there are in it.

And that brings me to the second reason for this. I just want to write.

I’m tired of putting so much effort into finding publishers and agents, putting in so much time into it and not getting anything out of it. If I’m going to spend my time on this passion of mine, I want to start putting out the stories that I want to put out, and getting them out to anyone who wants to read them. Yeah, I’ll have to do promotional work, and other things like formatting and cover designs, but it will be a lot less foolishness than if I went the traditional route.

I know I only have a limited time in this existence, although I hope I still have many years still left. I want to do it telling the stories I have in me.

It’s going to take some time, even with the self-publishing route. But I’m looking forward to getting it started.


  1. I should qualify this by saying that I would not include pay-to-play publishing or agents in this category. I have had past experiences and meetings with such people, and I’ve concluded that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
  2. I do not endorse using hard drugs for any reason, but especially creative ones. Anyone who thinks it is sustainable needs to read The Tommyknockers and watch Maximum Overdrive. When he had a prescription drug relapse after getting run over by that van, he wrote Dreamcatcher. I rest my case.