Year one? But this blog is well over seven years old. As many of you have probably noticed, my posts have turned away from math and have had a heavy literature/writing focus.
The story is long and complicated and not the point of this post, but I should probably give some context. As many of you know, I left academia at the end of the 2013-2014 academic year. Almost none of you probably know that I left to be a full-time writer. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re such an idiot! You can’t make any money doing that. You could always just write as a hobby if you like it so much.” You’re right. But there’s more to life than money. I wrote a 3000 word essay detailing the complexities and difficulties in coming to this decision, so I can’t fully explain it here.
It’s hard to predict what a given person will find more shocking: leaving math or becoming a writer. I mostly went to school for math because I was good at it, so people told me to major in it. This led to grad school, because that’s what a 4.0 GPA math major does. I never recall making this decision for myself. Once at grad school, I didn’t find my research meaningful, and I wasn’t all that into teaching either. That meant academia would not be a good fit. There are plenty of people killing themselves for minimum wage adjunct positions. Why should I take one of those away when I don’t even want to be teaching?
As for writing, this should not be as big a surprise as many people make it out to be. At the top of this post, I pointed out that this blog has existed for over 7 years. I had a books blog for years before starting this one. I found the time to write about things even in the hectic schedule of grad school. It’s what I love doing and find time to do. I even wrote 50,000 words of my first novel during grad school. From the start, the blog has had a big focus on literary theory, analysis of literature, book reviews, and so on. My interest in this has been there forever.
So what’s year one? Well, I’m considering September 2014 – September 2015 to be my first year as a writer. As you’ll see, I didn’t really publish anything, but I consider that to be okay. I figured my first few years would be a learning experience. Like math, you may have been doing it your whole life, but you shouldn’t expect to publish a paper in your first year of grad school (first year taking it seriously). You have to build up the skills first.
Here’s my stats and analysis of what I did during year one. The point of posting this is to have it in an accessible place. It’s mostly for me, not you. This is not meant to be a “bragging” post or something. If anything, I’m embarrassed by my output, and showing it to the world should serve as motivation to do better in Year 2.
1) Blogged once a week.
2) Read a book a week.
3) Wrote a review of that book each week.
4) Wrote an album review each week.
I can recall no exceptions to the weekly habits, though they probably exist early on when I took the most time off (see the end for what this refers to).
1) Six short stories + a significant portion of a rough draft of another. These were submitted to 30 places. No acceptances, but one split vote on the editorial board. Several decisions are still pending.
2) Three essays published at Death Metal Underground (on analyzing/listening to avant-garde music).
3) One essay published at Imaginary Realities.
4) A novella (to be submitted mid-Sept).
5) A novel (to be submitted around Nov).
6) A chapbook of poetry (21 poems). The poems were submitted to 12 places. No publications, but one passed the poetry editor (vetoed by general editor).
7) About 20,000 words of a non-fiction book.
1) Wrote approx 241,000 words.
2) Read over 21,000 pages.
A general issue this first year was taking time off. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I took about a month off. I took another month off while finding, buying, fixing up a house, and moving. Other miscellaneous vacation included engagement parties, weddings, visiting parents, relatives visiting me, and 7DRL. I took close to 3 months of vacation in my first year of work. This isn’t good. I would have been fired many times over for this in a “real” job.
Goals for Year 2:
1) Keep weekly habits 1, 2, and 3 no matter what.
2) Write 6 more stories (one every other month is not bad when the primary focus is on a novel).
3) Double the number of places I submit to. Important! Acceptance is a numbers game.
4) Write a rough draft of a new novel (already outlined).
5) Complete this reading list.
6) Increase the number of words I write.
7) Only take one month or less of vacation. I’m not sure this is physically possible being a writer married to a professor. Our families would deem this excessively stingy: a week at Thanksgiving + a week each at Christmas + a week each in summer = 5 weeks already.