2010: Hell Yes To Reflection, Fuck No To Regret

The Evil Order Of Wizarding Has Its Keynote Speaker

The turning of the year, arbitrary as it may be, is a good time to reflect. Reflection is awesome. You look back. You learn your lessons good and bad. You move on. Regret, though, well. Regret is for asswipes. Regret forces you to hang over your mistakes like a miasma, like a cloud of biting flies. With head full of regret, you’re like a gassy dog relishing in its own canine stink. No real value in that.

Look back, but move forward.

That’s my motto.

(Actually, my motto is, “Una mas cerveza.” Or maybe it’s “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” Fuck, I dunno. Actually, that’s probably my motto. “Fuck, I dunno.”)

Moving on.

The year 2010 was, all told, a pretty good year. Professionally I had some concerns — being a freelance writer is always a little bit hair-raising, and given the fact that the economy basically suffered something akin to explosive financial diarrhea, I was a bit worried. Plus, one of my biggest clients didn’t exactly much drop off the face of the map, but what was once a steady flow of work became a thin rivulet trickling forth as if from a diseased bladder.

But, hey, it turned out okay.

Financially, I did better this year than last. My overall average “pay per word” increased, which was nice.

Let’s see. What happened, specifically?

Well, obviously, getting accepted into the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab was a giant boon. It certainly ripped the scales off of my eyes when it came to narrative, to process, to the construction of story. Plus, we’ve come full circle, what with our short film and mind-boggling transmedia-palooza (both called Pandemic) ending up there this year, connected to the short film program and to the New Frontiers program.

The feature film is kicking along nicely. The script is just about to move toward its 9th draft after this last table read, and then — well, then I think we’re in the end zone?

The TV pilot was with TNT, then they said no, but now… well, let’s just say we’re alive again somewhere. Can’t talk much more about it, but the project once more has energy and momentum.

Worked on Collapsus, which was the first time I ever had a script I worked on translated into both animation and live action. Was a blast, and learned a lot about how to turn around good story in a short time frame. Plus, it’s just awesome to see your work made into something.

I’ve got one novel for sure on the books — Double Dead, due to the publisher in April, is going to rock your faces with its apeshit Vampire-in-Zombieland vibe.

My other novel, Blackbirds, continues to earn the nicest rejections a man could ever hope for. I’m not kidding you. Some of these rejections? Gushing. Heaped with the laurels of praise. And, ironically, they still remain rejections. Whyfor, you ask? I guess because it’s not a commercial book? Which surprises me, because I set out to write one. Because it’s dark? It is, but it’s not Requiem for a Dream II: Grimtastic Boogaloo. (Hell, the book has kind of a happy ending. And it’s funny! I mean, I think it’s funny. Shit.) Why aren’t editors asking for changes? Well, the story goes (true or not true) that they like it the way it is. And yet, the way it is won’t sell books. It’s a snake that eats its own tail. I’ve even had editors recommend the book to other editors! I dunno. Hopefully that remains a good sign and 2011 will be the year this book leaps into someone’s hands and bashes them about the head and neck until they decide to publish it.

I didn’t write as much personal stuff as I wanted to this year — what I did write didn’t quite click for me. But I’ve got some additional drafting, and I’ve got two more outlines for two more novels. One of which has been deemed by the agent as a good next step, so that’s where I’ll fall right after Double Dead.

I wrote and got paid for a bunch of game writing, but… well, I don’t know where those projects even live. I got paid for them, which was lovely, but so far — I see little on the horizon. Not sure when Danse Macabre hits. Or the work I did for Alpha Omega (Book of Cults, tentatively titled).

Did some work for The Escapist. Made people angry by saying PC games crash a lot and white people dominate game characters. Might have  a couple more articles in the pipeline for them.

I spoke and ran games at Simcon. Spoke at DIY Days NYC.

Did some traveling: Park City, San Francisco, Kauai, NYC.

This here bloggery-doodle has done pretty well. Started off the year with about 15,000 unique looky-loos a month. Then ramped up to 20k, then 50k, then 60k, then last month got twice that with 120k. Had a number of posts get thrown far and wide by the many magnanimous hands of the Internet — Beware of Writer, the Writer’s Prayer, the Freelance Face-Punch, NaNoWriMo Do’s And Don’t's, and How To Be A Writer. Hell, Beware of Writer is now well over 100k hits. Which is kind of nuts. Big thanks to any of you lovely people who flung the terribleminds gospel far and wide.

Of course, some of the biggest news is personal.

Bought a house. A house that isn’t a row home. That isn’t next to a bunch of sketchy lunatics and meth dealers, that isn’t next to a neighbor we affectionately called “Witch Tits.”

And, oh, yeah, as it turns out, the universe apparently hasn’t banned be from replicating my genetic code because — hey, hot dang, my wife is expecting.

It’s really been a pretty great year.

Now, onto 2011.

Maybe this year will finally be the one with the goddamn flying cars.

How was your 2010, people?

36 comments

  • Sounds like you had a pretty good year!

    Mine wasn’t bad. Actually, it’s been a pretty big year for me. I came out to friends and family, I met the love of my life, and I’ve done more this year than any other year to further my writing career. I’ve also found myself in a completely new state this year, no ties to parents involved, which is pretty cool.

  • I must admit, I do not usually read your blog in its entirety, just the little blurb on FB. But your comment that “regret is for asswipes” was so genius that I had ottoread on. Congrats on all of your writing accomplishments and especially getting your wife prego. This year for me has been one of the best I can remember. Not much to brag about, just more inner peace than I can remember in previous years. Amazing family, wonderful friends, and a true purpose. I miss all my QC friends and hope I can make it to Boonestock in 2011.

  • So glad everything is moving along for you! =)

    I wrote a letter to myself last year on NYE. I’m not doing any reflecting until I read it in a few days. Lots of hard lessons this year, but I also learned that I’m more resilient than I ever would have guessed.

  • Biggest change in 2010? I decided to screw common sense and start to focus on writing fiction. I always held off because, you know, you can’t make any money writing fiction and apparently making myself happy wasn’t enough of a reason to do it. Turns out doing what makes me happy also makes me a nicer person to be around so the consensus is that it was the right move. I’m more excited about life right now than I ever remember being, so that’s good. I didn’t do everything I wanted to this year, but I’m in a better place than I was at the beginning of the year so that has to count for something.

  • My 2010 doesn’t compare to yours, especially not in the accomplishments category, but it wasn’t a bad year. If nothing else, I seem to finally be finding some resolve on things I want to do, even if those things aren’t going to be big in the way of making money.

  • 2010 was a mixed bag. Still can’t find a dayjob (turns out that fancy college degree is a burden in this current economic situation we’ve got going). But I did look at all that free time and said “Fuck it dude! That book thing? I’m going to make that happen now! No more dicking around. Chase that mummer effin’ dream already” which has turned out rather well so far.

    Plus, I saw Them Crooked Vultures. And by saw I totally mean stood in the middle of a crowd, staring glossy-eyed at the stage as Josh Homme sang to me. Same thing.

  • Sounds like a pretty awesome year for you, Chuck.

    2010 was pretty good. Wrote my first novel. It sucks, but it’s complete. I’m proud of that. The year ended with me still pretty confused on which direction I want to take life/career. Mainly due to too many interests. Really gotta buckle down and focus on one.

    I have a fun, personal project planned for 2011. Looking forward to that. Also hope to write my second novel before summer hits.

    Really can’t complain. Life is good.

  • Have you considered self-publishing Blackbirds? Based on the comments you are getting it seems like a good candidate for that route, and you have a decent fanbase/infrastructure as you noted with your blog views and whatnot.

    • Thanks, all!

      @Justin — I’ve definitely considered it. Actually, that was my original intention was just to say, fuck it, I’m going to self-publish. But the realities are, it’s a book that’s good enough to get on shelves, it’s a book that’s good enough to get through the gates and gatekeepers, and I think I need a little more patience. It’s still out at a number of publishers so we’ll just see how it ends up. If next year rolls around and still nothing but glowing rejections, well, then it’s time to take it to some more experimental avenues. Though I will note the possibility of doing something like Amazon Encore before that.

      It’s sad, because self-publishing still lurks in the ghetto a little bit — and that’s going to be the reality for quite some time.

      – c.

  • It goes rather well. As much as I like to complain about my school’s writing department, it catapulted farther into my craft than I knew (and the often brutal workshops more than prepared me for rejection and harsh critiques). The shift from short story to novel was blissful and I’m finding I love the revision process. Pretty sure it won’t sell, or even land me an agent, but the practice sure doesn’t hurt. The others in the pipeline (some ideas, some outlines, some half drafts from ages past tugging for a second chance) are macerating. I figure come February I’ll give them a look and get cracking on the next one.

    Also, Rory is yelling at me that I left out the epic vacation to New Orleans. And I agree – high point of the year.

  • Sounds like, overall, your 2010 was pretty good. 2010 is one of those years that I’m going to simply be glad I survived. And, despite my sucktastic health, I managed to finish the first draft of my first novel. So it wasn’t all bad. Doesn’t mean I won’t be glad to see it over.

  • Good lord it’s been a good year for you! Here’s to hoping that 2011 ups the ante. Ups it like a last chance all or nothing roulette game (which honestly, has the worst odds. Can’t your ante learn to play craps? For Pete’s sake, just put it all on a hard boxcar.)

    My family’s crest is a knight backing out of a religious argument, but there are laurel leaves scattered about, so it’s classy.

    Don’t give up on Blackbirds – rejections like that just mean you’ve not found the right agent/publisher. They’re out there.

    Happy New Year, Chuck! <– I'm saying that like Peppermint Patty, so you know.

  • Um, is that a frosted cookie behind your head?

    Looking back at 2010: some good times, some bad times. The first year of my life that I have not had to worry about money. Looking forward: the public education system is about to implode; and so it should. That will either leave me unemployed or in demand. Crap shoot.

    Congratulations on all your accomplishments and your soon-to-arrive baby. TIME will fly for you from here on out. You are an awesome, often jaw-dropping, writer and observer of life. I enjoy reading this blog very much. Thanks for the good times! You and your fam are welcome at our house anytime you need a place to hide out in California. You bring the salty sweet bacon nut bark stuff.

    • @Stoney: No doubt — 2011 has to be about “Escalate, Escalate, Escalate.” And I like the phrase “hard boxcar.” I think if we have a son that will be his name. “Hard Boxcar Wendig.” Thanks for the kind words, Stoney. Here’s hoping Blackbirds finds a home in the new year.

      @Shelley: No frosted cookie — broken and peeling paint. :) And I’m leaving for California now. See you soon.

      @Jeff: Thankee, sai. It’s pretty exciting. I mean, sort of crazy, but exciting.

      – c.

  • Rock on, man. Good year.

    And because I haven’t said it to you anywhere else yet, congratulations on the oven-bun. That’ll be a fun, frustrating, rewarding curveball in the coming year, I’m here to tell you. I think you’ll like it.

  • Congrats, KF! That first one is the doozy…once you get one done, the rest come easier. Or so I’ve experienced.

    2010 was the year I finally stopped waiting for someone else to hand me my dream. I’m not rocking the bestseller lists (yet!) but people are reading my book. People I don’t know, who stumbled on it (as I shoved it under their noses, maybe, but still) and thought it looked cool enough to buy it.

    The Dance of Glee is going on at my house, let me tell you. ^__^

  • I moved in with a beautiful girl.
    We moved into a new apartment, much more spacious than the oven we had been living in.
    We got a puppy.
    I wrote two television shows and two feature length screen plays.
    I brought my first tabletop game to the story’s conclusion.
    I lead a discussion group for screenwriters
    I came face to face with my need to get my shit together, and have made a plan to do so.
    I stood up to my dad.
    I joined a vegetable CSA.
    I joined a meat CSA.
    I ate chicken hearts.

    That’s right. Chicken hearts. At a Brazilian Grill. They tasted like dark meat and death.

  • Congratulations on a good year and best wishes to you and your wife for the little one on the way!

    My year was decent and I’m thankful for it, though it felt a little too much like 2009 The Sequel for my tastes, so I’m hoping to make 2011 more a year of its own than 2009+2, the Revenge of the Aughts. It’s the official start of the new decade after all, and as good a time as any to make some changes, right?

    One thing I’m especially thankful for is all the wonderful humor and inspiration you’ve provided, and I look forward to more of the same in the year ahead. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • Chuck– “But the realities are, it’s a book that’s good enough to get on shelves, it’s a book that’s good enough to get through the gates and gatekeepers, [....] because self-publishing still lurks in the ghetto a little bit.”

    Ghetto-lurking or no, I’d recommend self-publishing it because, bluntly, you stand to make more money that way. It’s simple math, really.

    I mean, art is art and all — but fuck that. Getting PAID is better.

    • @Gareth –

      Listen, I’m not going to knock self-publishing, but the evidence that I’ll automagically make more money by doing it isn’t there yet.

      Self-publishing won’t get me in bookstores easily.

      It won’t put me at book signings.

      I won’t have any marketing dollars up front.

      I won’t be up for awards.

      I won’t likely be reviewed in many places.

      I won’t have easy access to foreign $$, film rights, or any of those other bennies.

      Getting paid is great — I’m all for it. But the evidence that I’ll make more money going the self-pub route doesn’t exist — and it’s quite a risk. If I self-pub and tank, well, that’s that. And it could — yes, I have Twitter followers, but do they automatically become a guaranteed army of book buyers? Nope. If I get even a quality small publisher behind me, though, I have what is *ideally* a long tail. Self-publishing often represents a short con if you’re not a proven author.

      I’m proven in some arenas, but others?

      We’ll see when I put my Kindle collection up for sale — I know that’s a collection that’s really not going to earn out without me putting it out there. I’m comfortable letting that be the canary in the coal mine.

      – c.

  • Oh, I agree — there’s absolutely no “automagical” to it.

    Not easily in bookstores — but *very* easily in the place where nearly 50% of ALL book sales are made (Amazon — data: http://www.fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm ). Slightly less easy, but still doable with a modicum of work, to place in B&N, Borders, etc.

    Signings? Awards? You’re absolutely right.

    Reviews are doable — the marketing work’s gotta be done by yourself, though (I’ve got a mailing list of 100+ sources for reviews).

    Foreign, Film, etc. — less easy than in-place agents repping the Big 6, but doable through dedicated personal agents who specialize in those areas.

    What it comes down to, though, is that all of these areas are under *your* control — dependent upon the amount of work you put into them. I’d rather have that be the case then hoping that the traditional publisher decides to put the effort behind a release, given the variables (their solvency, their opinion of whether the book is A-list or lower, potential office politics, etc.).

    But then, I’m a control freak. :)

  • 2010 was a pretty fine year. Started the year with some paid work like finishing the game script and minor advertising stuff. Wrote some flash fic that garnered too kind responses from writers whom I totally respect and am quite grateful to have been noticed by. Wrote a few short stories, one of which was prompted by this bloggety-blog and earned me a new friend far away (thanks for that). Own blog seems to be finding it’s groove, generating a solid hit-per-post and consistent readership. Haven’t heard I helped anyone yet, but maybe in 2011.

    Landed my dream job. (TG!)

    Maintained consistent connections with my long time friends though life continues to busy-up and separate us.

    Sure, there were downs. Swine flu sucked. But all in all, the ups have it.

    K

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