MWL’s 2016 wrap-up

The year-end post is an Internet tradition. Being naturally conservative, who am I to buck tradition?

It’s a couple days early, but I’m going to go out on a limb here: the list of people 2016 killed does not include me. Yet. (Dear 2016, this is not a challenge. I would not dream of questioning your ability to slaughter folks. You are the champ, truly.) This was in doubt for a while, but I responded well to treatment. My bone marrow has started firing. I have hemoglobin again. At the end of 2016, I stop taking all the meds.

Now that my bone marrow is firing again, the theory is that it will keep going. It might not. I need to monitor my blood for the forseeable future. Hey, if I reach 50 and that’s as bad as it gets, I’ll be doing good.

The lesson here is: if I stop making words, don’t assume it’s only because I’m an undisciplined slacker and that I need to “try harder.” That’s a great assumption if it lasts for a week, but if it keeps going on I need to see the doctor.

Dammit, what happened to my youthful invulnerability?

Writing-wise, I published three tech books:

FreeBSD Mastery: Specialty Filesystems
FreeBSD Mastery: Advanced ZFS
PAM Mastery

I’d like to note that the specialty filesystems is now my worst-selling tech book of all time, lagging far behind the PGP and Tarsnap books. It’s a necessary prerequisite to the jails book, though. (No, you won’t have to read it to understand the forthcoming jails book, but I had to write it before writing the jails book.)

The ZFS book was co-written with Allan Jude. The specialty filesystems book was mostly written in 2015. PAM was written entirely in 2016.

I published three novels:

Kipuka Blues (Immortal Clay 2)
Butterfly Stomp Waltz (a crime thriller)
Hydrogen Sleets (aka “Aidan Redding 3” or “Montague Portal 4”)

The first two were written entirely in 2015. The last was half-finished in 2015.

So, yeah… anemia pretty much whupped my butt in 2016. While word count is not the be-all and end-all of writing, it’s a useful metric for a working writer. I wrote 15,600 words in July, 4400 words in August, and 5000 in September, for both fiction and non-fiction. That’s not enough to make a living on.

I started treatment in September. They said it would take effect very slowly.

At the beginning of October, I thought I was feeling well. I set myself a three-day challenge to complete a short story. It bombed. My “feeling better” was a condition the experts call “wishful thinking.”

October: 6900 words.

In November, I wrote 30,700 words. December so far has only 25,800 words, but I see a drop every December because of the holidays. That’s fine. I’m shooting to break 30,000 before the end of 2016.

As of today, total word count in 2016 is 195,700.

I’m not back where I need to be. But I’m clearly on the way back. Apparently, if your brain doesn’t have oxygen, it stops working. Who knew?

Many of the November words were fiction. I wanted to write something quick and short, because I really needed to complete something. 28,000 words later, I had a new Prohibition Orcs novella. Which my writer friends will tell me was a daft thing to do–short stories sell. Novels sell. Novellas don’t.

But orcish rumrunners in 1927 Detroit amuse the crap out of me, and that’s all that’s really important, so buzz off. I’ll post the official announcement on it once it’s available on iBooks.

Other things in 2016? Well, today I hit 60 inches on the stretching machine. That’s great for my martial arts practice. I put on weight: not good, but highly predictable when you have roughly enough brain power to handle Star Trek: Voyager. (I was still saying the plot twists before they appeared on screen, though: I was slow, not dead.)

Where am I today?

The novel I started on 1 February 2016, git commit murder, is flowing nicely. (Think “Agatha Christie does a Unix con.”) I haven’t spent more than a year on a novel since 2001, and I have no intention of starting now. I might stretch my fiction hours in January to keep that from happening.

The new tech book, “Relayd and Httpd Mastery: OpenBSD Web Services” is also flowing nicely. I’ve almost finished the httpd part–all that remains is OSCP stapling.

Best of all: once I get going, the words pretty much arrive the way they used to. Getting started is still painful, but I expect that to improve with more blood.

My 2017 goals?

  • Write 4 complete tech books.
  • Write 4 novels.
  • Keep practicing martial arts.
  • Stand up against racism, sexism, and fascism in my daily life.
  • Be sufficiently flexible to kick Ray Percival in the head at BSDCan.
  • Drop 20 pounds.
  • Stay writing.
  • Stay married.
  • Stay alive.

If I pull those off: I win.

8 Replies to “MWL’s 2016 wrap-up”

  1. Glad to hear you are doing better! Looking forward to the new OpenBSD book.

    Best wishes for you in 2017.

  2. Happy Holidays. Glad you are doing better. Enjoyed the first Prohibition Orcs. Will pick up the new one when it’s available in dead tree. Greatly awaiting news on sponsorship for the OpenBSD Web Services book. Got some Christmas money to throw at it 🙂

    Looking forward to the new year! This one has royally failed in so many ways. PAM Mastery was a highlight of the good stuff, though.

  3. Michael, please consider revising your list of goals, as they seem to be in precisely backwards order at the moment. You’ll find it difficult, for example, to kick Ray in the head if you aren’t alive at the time.

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