I always get sentimental about my projects and my progress with them around the new year. For the last few years, I would spend the last week of December writing up a Google Doc with a long analysis of how my year went, how I did in terms of accomplishing the goals I set for myself the prior year (which I usually failed to reach), and setting new goals for the next year (which, again, I would usually fail to reach).
Instead of doing that again this year, I’d like to put into practice some of that author transparency I’m always raving about, and share my year in review thoughts publicly, in blog post form.
So. What have I been up to for the last year?
(Joke’s on you, because this blog post was still written in a Google Doc after all! Ha!)
This year I released my first (and probably only) web serial, Uhh, Reincarnation Goddess? You Forgot to Give Me the System. It was certainly… an experience. Fun at times, because I was writing a lot of funny goofy shit. Frustrating and demoralizing at times, because I did a lot of things wrong and I’ve already talked about a lot of this before, so no need to go into it again.
As far as URGY goes in the context of my “year in review” though, I was still writing it through January and February—a handful of Arc 2 chapters that will probably never see the light of day. The story launched publicly in January, and ran until the end of July—first with weekly releases, then monthly batches.
And since then, I’ve barely touched it. Now I just check the admin control panel on the website every once in a while to see if people are still reading it—which they are, for some reason. What a bunch of weirdos.
(Thanks for reading, every one of you <3)
It’s Always Friday
A few years ago, I wrote a fun hard sci-fi short story (bordering on novella length) and I was pretty happy with how the first draft came out. And then I put it down for two years to work on TBoW and then URGY, following the alleged wisdom that you should wait a while before revising, so you can see the story with fresh eyes. (I didn’t mean to wait THAT long, though!)
After quitting URGY early in the year, it was time to bring IAF back to the center of my attention. Over the next few months I polished it into an even stronger, hopefully final-draft version of itself, and I’ve been submitting it for publication ever since.
I used to go hiking a lot when I was a kid. Right across the street from my house was an unmarked trail that went through miles and miles of forests and fields and branching paths that sometimes crossed streams or went up or down the mountain. It was the perfect place to inspire a healthy love of exploration—and if that wasn’t enough, part of the Appalachian Trail cut through my town too.
In spring 2021, I rekindled my old hiking hobby. (What, did you think this list was going to be all writing projects? Nope! It’s about my year in general.) I only went on a handful of local hikes overall before I stopped for the winter, but it was a lot of fun—especially because I made it a point to take a lot of photos of all the cool rivers and rock formations that I came across.
This is something I’m going to keep doing in 2022 and beyond. As soon as the weather warms up again, that is.
Remember that project I blogged about once? My Pokédex website with built in Pokémon Showdown usage stats integration? I haven’t really done anything with it this year, other than update the stats database every month. I guess I finished adding all the main functionality I wanted after all, and now it’s in a kind of off-cycle maintenance mode.
I haven’t even played competitive Pokémon in a few years, so I might just retire Porydex for now.
I don’t read enough books. As an aspiring writer, I know I need to read as many books as possible—to expose myself to more writing styles, techniques, ideas, characters from different backgrounds than me, and so on. I made it a goal in 2021 to read at least one book every month… and I succeeded! Here’s my list, for the curious:
Of Sea and Shadow (The Elder Empire: Sea #1)
Unsouled (Cradle #1) (reread)
Bloodline (Cradle #9)
Of Shadow and Sea (The Elder Empire: Shadow #1)
Of Dawn and Darkness (The Elder Empire: Sea #2)
Of Darkness and Dawn (The Elder Empire: Shadow #2)
Project Hail Mary
Of Killers and Kings (The Elder Empire: Shadow #3)
Of Kings and Killers (The Elder Empire: Sea #3)
Children of Time (Children of Time #1)
Auberon (The Expanse novella)
Nexus (Nexus Trilogy #1)
Children of Ruin (Children of Time #2)
The Vital Abyss (The Expanse novella)
The Churn (The Expanse novella)
Reaper (Cradle #10)
Crux (Nexus Trilogy #2)
Apex (Nexus Trilogy #3)
Leviathan Falls (The Expanse #9)
In years before 2020, I would read many more books—or rather, listen to many more audiobooks, because I had an hour-long commute and I made use of that time to the fullest. Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has really cut down on my commute time (I mean, obviously), and thus my reading time. But I think my efforts in 2021 have done a decent job at bringing me back up to speed.
We’ll see next year, because I plan on doing the same “read at least one book every month” thing again.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Okay, it might seem silly to put this as its own entire section, but no. It’s just honest.
I got Breath of the Wild in August, after procrastinating on playing it for a few years, and oh my god. This game simply consumed me. I basically did nothing other than play it for the next month and a half, racking up around 200 hours of game time in that span.
Now, I am not much of a gamer. I play Pokémon games when they come out every couple years, I play the big name 3D Super Mario games (64, Galaxy, Odyssey, etc), and I play Mario Kart. Those are enough for me. I’ve only ever played a few Zelda games, and only ever finished one of them (A Link to the Past).
But this game? Wow. Just, wow. Simply incredible. I cannot state enough how much I adored Breath of the Wild.
If you’ve read this far, you may now be thinking, “Wait, Jesse, that’s not nearly enough to have taken up your entire year! Is that really all you did?”
And you’re right—that’s not even close to everything I did. If I listed everything I did in 2021—every project I had worked on, every video game I played or story I started writing and abandoned—it still wouldn’t be enough to cover the entire year. Because as much as I may talk about my life as if my projects are the only thing I ever work on or care about, the real human truth of it is… the thing I did most in 2021 is live.
I took my time with my “projects” and made sure to experience as much of the outside world as I could (considering, you know, the pandemic and all). I went to gem and mineral shows and saw rad amethysts and bismuths. I went roller skating and managed to only fall down twice. I went to a giant corn maze—and managed to get through it a full hour faster than the average!
I’m okay with not having much to show for 2021 in terms of stories finished, or Porydex features added, or other deliverables delivered. Especially after the whirlwind of output that was 2020, I can appreciate 2021 being a year more for resting and rounding myself out as a person, without it feeling like a waste.
This was a good year.
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