It's the time of year when the idle mind drifts toward the past year's accomplishments and failures. This has been a strange year for me; I feel like I've taken enormous leaps forward in some respects, and lost ground in others. I guess that's fair, since 2011 and 2012 were both pretty big for me. They can't all be big.
So call this a fallow year, perhaps, getting the spirit ready for new growth in the new year. One can hope.
I Did Some Projects
It's no secret that the curious intersection of games, story, community management, and marketing in which I do most of my client work has had a shaky year or so. That's been visible in my pipeline of paying client work; the flow of work dried up unexpectedly at about this time a year ago and never fully recovered. It's been a pleasant break from always doing four projects at once, to be sure, but a little rush of when-it-rains-it-pours would be welcome for my bank account right... about... now.
That said, I'm pleased with the client projects I did in 2013. For one, I made forays into the fashion industry this year -- I helped out the Diesel Reboot project which was nominated for a Mashable Award. And I got to do a little workshopping at Glamour, which was lovely.
My biggest project for the year, though, was probably The Walk -- a co-creation of Six to Start and Naomi Alderman, for which I had the joy of doing storylining, character creation, early drafts and additional writing. The game will launch in just a few days, and I'll have a little more to say about it once that's happened.
A project from 2012 finally launched, too: the GE Wonderground project went up in the spring. (...But seems to be gone already. Ephemerality, eh.)
Which moves on to my next point: this was another big year for evaporating projects and unsuccessful pitches. Early on, a simply marvelous project in the beauty industry that had seemed like a sure thing -- even to the point of sending across a deal memo for me to sign -- fell through at the eleventh hour. And a pitch for an extension of a TV show I desperately wanted to work on wasn't greenlit, either. I have regrets; both of these projects would have been stellar if they'd been built out. Alas.
Well, there's always something else, right?
Indie Work Ahoy!
I've been saying for years I want to focus harder on making and shipping my own work. That's the silver lining in that slow pipeline -- this year I finally started to follow through. To that end, Lucy Smokeheart is my flagship accomplishment for 2013. Not in terms of money, really (though $7700 in Kickstarted funds is nothing to sneeze at, as far as publishing goes!) But I feel those creaky wheels start to turn. You cannot build an audience without shipping work.
Lucy has been tremendous fun to write. It's also been a difficult project for me, as far as setting my own expectations at a reasonable bar. I'm used to working on a scale of audience a couple of magnitudes bigger, so while Lucy's been a success by the benchmarks I set myself up front (earning about as much as a genre novel advance in Kickstarted funds) I haven't really seen the steadily growing flow of additional sales I'd hoped for.
The readership also hasn't formed much in the way of a cohesive community, and by and large hasn't been especially excited and talkative about the project (at least not anywhere I've seen). This leads me to the conclusion that it is simply not as awesome as it needs to be. I am of course committed to finishing the Lucy project no matter what, but I'm newly riddled with insecurity regarding whether I got what it takes, etc., etc.
In other independent work: you may or may not remember my talking about Felicity throughout last year. At the beginning of the year, my agent was shopping around Felicity, and apparently got some interest -- but editors wanted to see a complete manuscript before biting. To that end, I've started writing from the outline. This is going much more slowly than I'd prefer, but publishing is a slow game and requires nerves of steel.
Appearances and Speaking
I made a conscious choice to do much less punditing this year. In total I only appeared at five or six events, and only attended a couple more on top of that. I feel like speaking about transmedia and marketing has been actively taking away time and energy from doing the work I want to be doing, and from spending time with my family. I don't want to become the person who talks about stuff but never does it anymore.
Some of the engagements I was getting were increasingly making me uncomfortable, too. The applications of transmedia in a B2B situation? Not what I'm here for, not what I'm good at, and trying to squeeze into something like that was starting to make me feel dishonest.
...That said, it's plausible that my pipeline was thinner this year because I did less speaking, so I may have to reconsider that for 2014.
I started a podcast called The Cultures this year with dear friends and colleagues Naomi Alderman and Adrian Hon, so that was nice! It's been a lot of fun to carve out a space each week for thoughtful conversation about religion, science, art, how to live a good life, and so on. I'm delighted to do it, delighted we have some listeners, and in general it's been a lovely experience all around.
I'm doing a little goofy eBay art project called Letting Myself Go, just... because.
I redesigned my website. Isn't it pretty?
Oh yeah, and I had cancer this year? So that happened. I have some thoughts regarding that, but... I think I'm going to put that into another post.
So what do I want out of 2014? What are my plans, what are my wishes?
On the practical front, I have a client project in the works right now, but the time commitment and time frame are still a little up in the air. So I might need to hustle. Now my kids are both in grade school, I'm contemplating whether the timing is right for me to finally get a real actual job; a little predictability would be pleasant, and I'm absolutely dying for a project where my involvement is measured in months, not weeks. I'm not convinced, but at the very least I'm much more open to that conversation than I have been in years. Either way -- if you'd like to work with me, as always, drop me a line.
For Lucy: I keep on keeping on; I'm even working on a secret proposal for a thing related to Lucy which will hopefully come to fruition at about the same time Lucy concludes, in May or June. (Though we'll see; writing time and scheduling being what they are, it may hit end-of-year instead.) I'll let you know more once I'm a little more confident it's going to pan out.
That vanishing beauty industry project also left me with a story concept I love to pieces, and I may try to get an animated transmedia series produced. A huge undertaking, but I do really, really love the story, so... I just need to get the ball rolling, for right now.
Finally: I parted ways with my agent a few months back, so now I'm officially looking for representation for SF/F genre work. In particular, I have that novel about The Wiki Where Your Edits Come True I'd like to sell. If you are an agent or you're on good terms with an agent and you'd like to introduce me, by all means, reach out. On the other hand, if I've done an honest job of shopping and haven't found an agent by, say, June, then I'm going to find another way to get it out there.
Annnnd I guess that's about a wrap on 2013. A year marked by uncertainty. Here's to being sure of ourselves in 2014, eh?