MWL’s 2017 Wrap-Up

It’s that time again. Time to reflect on my myriad personal failures in 2017.

The obvious place to start is my 2016 wrap-up post, where I listed goals for 2017. As usual, these goals were wildly delusional.

The short answer is, my iron was back up to normal. My writing speed wasn’t, though. I’d lost too much general health, and needed hard exercise to recover it. Yes, writing requires physical endurance. Maintaining that level of concentration for several hours a day demands a certain level of blood flow to the brain. I could have faked it in a day job, but when self-employed as an artist? Not so much.

Then there’s travel. I did my usual BSDCan trip, plus two educational trips to Lincoln City, Oregon. The current political mayhem convinced me that if I wanted to hit EuroBSDCon any time in the next few years, I should do it in the very near future. So I went to Paris, where I promptly got pickpocketed. (Thankfully, they didn’t get my passport.) I was actively writing the third edition of Absolute FreeBSD, so I visited BSDCam in Cambridge to get the latest information and a sense of where FreeBSD was going. I also did weekends at Kansas LinuxFest (because they asked and paid for my trip) and Penguicon.

(Because people will ask: why EuroBSDCon and not AsiaBSDCon? A six-hour transatlantic flight requires that I take a substantial dose of heavy-grade tranquilizers. I’m incapable of making intelligent decisions while on those drugs, or for several hours afterward. They don’t last long enough for twelve-hour flight to Japan, so I need to be accompanied by someone qualified to tell me when I need to take the next dose partway through the flight. This isn’t a predetermined time that I can set an alarm for; it depends on how the clonazepam affects me at those altitudes. A drug overdose while flying over the North Pole would be bad. When I can arrange that qualified companion, I’ll make the trip.)

I need most of the preceding week to prepare for long trips. I need the following week to recover from time shifts and general exhaustion. Additionally, I have to hoard people juice for a few weeks beforehand so I can deal with folks during these expeditions. Travel disrupts my dojo time as well, which impacts my health.

Taken as a whole: I didn’t get nearly as much done as I hoped.

Here’s my complete output of big books.

Or, everything I put out: one novel, one tech book, one story, and one novella.

I wrote more stories, but Kris Rusch bludgeoned me into submitting them to trad markets. (The woman is a brute, I tell you. Cross her at your peril.)

Among my 2017 titles, my fiction outsold the tech books. No, not Prohibition Orcs–all four of the people who buy those love them, but the sales tell me I’ve done something wrong with those tales.

My cozy mystery git commit murder outsold Relayd and Httpd Mastery.

But what outdid them both, as well as most of my older books? What title utterly dominated my sales for the last quarter of the year? It was of course, my open source software political satire disguised as porn Savaged by Systemd: an Erotic Unix Encounter.

I can’t believe I just wrote that paragraph.

The good news is, once I recovered from EuroBSDCon, my writing got better.

I finished Absolute FreeBSD, 3rd edition and submitted it to the publisher.

I wrote the second edition of SSH Mastery (no link, because you can’t order it yet.)

I’m plowing through git sync murder, the sequel to git commit murder. I don’t get to see the new Star Wars movie until I finish GSM, so hopefully that’ll be this month.

All in all, I wrote 480,200 words in 2017. Most of that was after September. It’s annoyingly close to breaking half a million, but after 2016’s scandalous 195,700, I’ll take it.

One of the nice things about being an author is that most of your income is passive. You do the work, and the money trickles in for years afterwards. I had money coming in while I was out of commission. The bad news is, that income slowly drops. If I’m to stay an author instead of becoming a wage peasant, I have to schlep some books out PDQ. I can do it, provided I remain focused on production.

That slump is the big reason why I broke down and started a Patreon. It’s why I started taking sponsorships for tech books. You folks carried me through my health problems. I can’t thank you enough.

The fact that AF3e is trad published complicates the financial picture. I won’t see any money from that book until 2019. No, I’m not complaining–that’s just a fact of life, and I knew that going in. But it provides extra motivation for getting my butt in gear right off in 2018.

So 2018 will be my Year Of Making Words. The finest words, of course. Artisinal. Straight from Detroit, a third world city in America’s heartland.

So what’s on tap for 2018? What’s the plan?

  • BSDCan, Penguicon, and two educational trips to Lincoln City, Oregon. That’s it. Under no circumstances will I leave North America, sorry.
  • write 600,000 words, or 50,000 words a month.
  • Complete and release four tech books
    • SSH Mastery 2nd ed
    • FreeBSD Mastery: Jails (I suspect this will turn into two books, it’s a huge topic)
    • either Mastodon Mastery or Ansible for Legacy Systems.
    • #MWLSecretBook, which I can’t talk about until for now, for reasons which will become clear once the book comes out
  • Write the tech book I didn’t complete above, and release it if there’s time
  • Write four novels
    • git sync murder, a sequel to git commit murder
    • Bones Like Water, or Immortal Clay #3
    • Drinking Heavy Water, Montague Portal #5 or Aidan Redding #4
    • To Be Decided From a List of Candidates, All of Which I Really Want to Write
  • Be sufficiently flexible to kick Ray Percival in the head at BSDCan. A front kick will do, but I’m shooting for the high-flexibility side kick as a stretch goal.
  • Exercise enough to drop twenty pounds
  • Stay married while doing all of the above
  • Stay alive

Other than the last two, these are all deliberately fail-forward goals. If I only get three tech books done instead of four–hey, I’m ahead by three tech books! If I only drop ten pounds, that’s better than gaining ten. “Stay married” and “stay alive” aren’t fail-forward goals, but I have a good idea how to achieve them both.

This time next year, come back to see exactly how I failed!

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3 Replies to “MWL’s 2017 Wrap-Up”

  1. I don’t get to see the new Star Wars movie until I finish GSM

    Okay, that’s a heck of an ice cream cone. 🙂 I need to think of some things like that. [ponder]

    Looking forward to seeing you on that first educational trip to Lincoln City. 😀

    Angie

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