Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Numbers Game

Math was my weakest subject in high school. Starting when I was fifteen -- though I'd always been a doodler, a scribbler, a daydreamer -- the right side of my brain got the better of me, and it has, thank the stars, resulted in a happy creative life. Still, I use just enough basic arithmetic to get by.

2016 was one of my most productive years ever -- my second best in term of number of words written, totaling some 478,000 and change. Add to that number at least another 30,000 in the form of a novel started in November, three short stories, and a screenplay all waiting to be completed in 2017. I finished 75 individual fiction projects -- 1 novel in July, 14 novellas, and the rest a mix of short stories and 1 flash weighing in at 100 words ("Catching Snowflakes" is presently on a very short list at a major publication project, waiting to learn if it's going to the dance). Last year, I sold 50 short stories and 4 of those novellas. In early October, on a warm, bright afternoon spent writing on my sun porch, I penned The End on my 1,200th work of fiction. All of my big numbers, dating back to my teen years, have been Space:1999 stories -- 1, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000. 1,200 was no different, thanks to my novella, "The Tomorrows", a powerfully personal, emotional experience that I was fortunate enough to share with the members of my writers' group over several weeks of meetings.

I went on 8 adventures in 2016 to destinations far and wide. Starting last February, I spent a wonderful weekend in Massachusetts, taking in the gala book launch of Murder Ink (which contains my short mystery, "Exhuming Secrets on a Hot August Day") in Boston, where the publisher treated us like royalty during a luncheon, reading, and signing. A month later, I was off to the first of 2 5-day trips to When Words Count, a luxury retreat center for writers in Vermont, where I split time between the Hemingway Room and Mark Twain Suite, and banged out a total of 6 first drafts (and much of that aforementioned screenplay). In May, I jetted off to Hollywood to attend the Roswell Awards, where my short story "Mandered" won Honorable Mention. In June, I enjoyed the wonderful retreat/workshop Writing From Nature. In September, I was off to not 1 but 2 writing adventures -- to the annual Writelines conference and workshop held on Star Island in the Isles of Shoals, and a return to the Waterfall House with members of my stellar writers' group. That same month, on September 18, I also got married to my longtime partner Bruce on the front lawn of our beautiful old house on the hill, Xanadu. The ceremony was attended by 37 friends and family members, who somehow all squeezed into our downstairs for the reception.

(arrival to the Twain Suite in mid-October)
As the autumn progressed, I was writing with a kind of tireless fire, and knew I was in for excellent numbers come the end of the year. But I also sensed a kink in my health, which I noticed (and foolishly ignored) on the first day of my Star Island adventure. The day after a marvelous Thanksgiving, I started to shiver, and over the course of the next two days, it grew worse. I also found myself unable to stand upright for long. On November 28, I went to our local hospital and was admitted. It would be 24 days before I was released to come home to family, Xanadu, and muse. During that time, I had surgery to remove a deep bone infection, suffered a severe allergic reaction to IV antibiotics, and, spurred on by the overwhelming desire to be home (and to attend the second Murder Ink gala launch in Boston at the end of February -- Ink 2 contains my sports-themed mystery "Murder at Channel Ten"), dove into a fierce commitment to physical therapy -- if the wonderful therapists suggested I do 5 minutes of reps on a machine in the gym, I did 8. If they wanted me to do 20 leg lifts, I did 30. During my hospital stay, I wrote 3 short stories based upon hallucinations I suffered the night following surgery. I jotted notes on a 4th (which I wrote upon my return home days before Christmas). Back at Xanadu, I was able to walk again -- for every 1 day spent bedridden in the hospital, according to the nursing staff, it takes 3 to get back on steady legs, a mathematical figure that terrified me...and one I was determined to best.

Healthy (and down some 13 pounds), I found my way back to my desk and loved every second of being in my home once more, my own bed, and, especially, my home office, where I got into my old groove and completed several more stories before 2016 ran out. So many, in fact, that for the first time since I was in my middle-20s, my list of as-yet-unwritten story ideas dropped below 100. January 1, 2017 kicked off with 99!

And I have 1 last number to report about. As I type this post, this small, beloved blog is just 53 reads shy of earning it's 100,000th. Thank you to all the readers from across the globe who've taken time to follow my writing adventures -- here's to a million more!


  1. Congratulations. As an editor who has recently published one of those stories and a writer who has read several, (in my opinion) you are not only a prolific writer, but an excellent one. Continued good wishes for a productive and successful 2017. :-)

    1. Thank you so much, fab Ms. Vonnie! What a pleasure it still is to have appeared in IN A CAT'S EYE -- I get such great feedback from readers of that wonderful anthology! xo

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