semi-annual reflection

It’s nearing the end of 2021. The last couple years have been a rollercoaster for me — and most of the world. I don’t always reflect on the year. This is going to be a focused reflection on fanfiction, my writing and struggles with creativity (which gets me to the present day, so bear with me). Read on if you’re of a mind to listen to me ramble.

This week, I was participating on a Discord server where a lot of J7 (Janeway/Seven of Nine, Voyager fandom) fans hang out. This couple was my OTP couple during that show’s run. During, and for nearly a decade after, I wrote short fics, long fics, micro-bursts of creativity, responded to prompt ideas, you name it. I had a website of my own on xoom then geocities and then, briefly, I registered my penname as a domain. So I stored my fanfic there. I also put a couple random pieces during my Otalia and Tair days on livejournal. (All of these accounts are gone now.)

I didn’t know of AO3 or FFN. I had just discovered tumblr. When I finally learned of these sites it was the beginning of my participation in the OUAT fandom (2011, reading SwanQueen, what else? LOL), I hadn’t had a website for at least a year. I figured it wasn’t worth the money to keep paying for a domain for something I was probably never going to do again. I’d “moved on” to original fiction. I’d had two novels published by then and I was pretty sure I was done with fanfic.

But the bug bit and, since I was reading on FFN, I figured that was where my fics would find readers. I was writing my bio and, talking about all the other fandoms I’d written for, I figured I should upload some of them to this new place. So I put a few Xena fics from my mothballed hard drive, and also a few J7 fics. Then I started posting my SwanQueen stories. I told myself I’d go back through my archives and get the rest uploaded “eventually.”

Ten years later here’s where it stands:

my FFN total stories as of Dec 2, 2021

Just this morning, I coded what I believe to be the last remaining J7 stories. I edited a few as they went up. I even added a few (short) parts to others. I reorganized and pulled together into multi-chapters those one-shots that were connected.

So how is it that number is still so much smaller than THIS one?

Once invited to A03, I worked to put everything I could. I love the posting interface and it allows me to put up pictures in stories that I couldn’t do on FFN. On both, I have all three fandoms primarily represented: Xena, J7 and Once Upon a Time. The A03 does have some RPF (not allowed on FFN) and a smattering of one-shots for other fandoms, but when I removed those from the listing the total number of fics is only slightly smaller:

So I started comparing listings. I could only account for seven less stories after realizing my organization was different on A03 (stories posted as series) and FFN (stories posted as multi-chapter). So, next I think I have to check that my Xena stories are all present and accounted for.

Here’s the reflection part. Working in the nitty-gritty of coding has made me realize I wrote a LOT of stories. Based on word count, since late 1997 when I wrote my first Xena fanfic “Horse Thieves” and posted it to a mailing list, I’ve share more than 902,000 worth of (free) stories. Because I almost always edit (which trims most things) before posting, I have probably written more than one million words. Over 25 years that’s an average 40,000 words a year. Though, many years I wrote much more than that because, some years I could barely find time to write 10k.

NaNoWriMo encourages writers to just write, every day, for a month, to reach 50k words. I’ve never been able to keep up that pace. I wonder, sometimes, at people who publish 3-4 books a year. I consider a book to be minimally 60-80k. My first novel took 25 weeks and the first draft was 154k. Over 10 years, I edited and revised, and it became two books, 124k and 75k, when I had finished with the entire process. My third novel, 74k, took two years to write and refine, and another 6 months to be published. My fourth, another 74k, has been in progress since 2018. I’m giving myself the grace of saying 2020 was a shyte year and doesn’t count, but that still will mean three years on drafting (I’m working on the last scene now before I send it to beta readers).

So am I slow? I have been doing other things. I now have my own editing business and have set a business day that amounts to 40 hours a week. I’m hosting writers workshops and writing a non-fiction book discussing a method of self-editing. Since 2018, I also started and ended three new positions (all teaching, but moved from school to school in the same system) during the last three years, and done gig work in elections monitoring and test grading.

Clearly I didn’t need to set myself one more task but as I said at the beginning, there have been dry spells when I wasn’t writing many of my own stories. As 2020 neared its end, I had one of those “I must recommit to my own writing.” For my own sanity if nothing else. So I started a Patreon. My goal: 12 stories in 12 months. I set a minimum (5,000 words), but by April I was writing over 10k, and June’s story was almost 18k. Seems my muse warmed up nicely to the routine. By the end of the year (though I’m still putting the finishing touches on December’s story), I have written over 87k.

Final verdict: it has been a good year for writing and creativity. I hope you can say the same.

May you each have a happy holiday season and be able to look forward to a bright new year, creatively and otherwise.

~ Lara

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