The End of the Year

It’s the end of 2020. It’s been an… interesting…year. I might write a blog post about the world later, but right now I’m going to focus on my personal journey this year.

Usually for the end of year review I look at numbers, trends, and how I’ve improved year over year. However, 2020 has been an unusual year. It wasn’t the numbers that matters as much as pushing through even when the world was falling apart around me. So, I’m going to focus less on numbers, and more on just what I accomplished, and the setbacks I had.

But before I get to this year I have to go back to the end of 2019 for a minute.

At the end of 2019 I wrote a large chunk of the 4th book in my litRPG series. It is currently standing at 40k words, which I feel is about half finished. (I also had half of Vertigo, a side quest in the series, done.) This will put book four at double the length of the others in the series. When I saw that, and realized I had added a bunch of lore to the world, I decided I needed to go back and redo a lot of the first three books, and possibly combine them to make two books instead of three.

Because of that indecision about the series I decided to take the books down in December. I was going to rewrite them, and then finish the new books afterward. But I still wanted another book to finish while I was doing some updates to the old stuff. That meant December of last year wasn’t very productive as I was editing, traveling for the holidays (remember when we could do that?), and going through files and old books to decide the best course of action.

In January of this year I settled on book two of my Half Blood Sorceress series. It had a good foundation, and I already had an outline, so I got to work. Around January I also started paying way too much attention to the news as reports started rolling in. The more I saw in the news the more depressed I became and while I was still writing…it wasn’t as much as I should have been doing. I was worried about my family back in the Seattle area, and…well I’m sure a lot of us were obsessing about the news this year.

I kept working away getting another 5-10k words a month on Dragon’s Blood, while also putting in more time editing the old litRPG books, and a few other projects here and there. In May I decided I just needed something short to finish and went to /r/writingpromps for an idea. Impology came out of that. I wrote the bulk of it in May…and then…. June arrived.

Towards the end of May, and more in June, I started getting sick a lot. I thought it was allergies at first. I popped some allergy pills, turned on the air purifier, and still kept plugging away at the writing and editing. But during June I got sicker and sicker, sometimes sleeping an entire day. I was hungry but I couldn’t eat. My stomach was swelling. And we were getting worried.

June 30th, from my journal: I don’t feel good. My body is betraying me. Stomach swelling, unable to eat. So hungry. Hard to move or sleep. What is it? Dr Appointment tomorrow.

The doctor took an ultrasound and said “you need to go to a specialist” but didn’t tell me what it was. For June and July I was so concerned with my health. I looked like I was 8 months pregnant suddenly, so much so that people were starting to comment on it when we went shopping. I could barely eat because whatever was swelling my abdomen was putting pressure on my stomach. I had no energy because I was getting less than 1000 calories a day. So sick… I slept a lot during June just trying to function.

Even so….in June I managed to put down another 7000 words for the new Dragon’s Blood. I would lay in bed with a laptop, or my phone, and pluck just a few words at a time between sleeping.

In July we made the decision to go back to Seattle for medical care…and I’m so grateful we did. Grateful that we had family to stay with, medical insurance to pay for it, and the ability to drive there even during a pandemic. What started as me just thinking I was tired because of bad allergies, and swelling because of the food I ate….it ended up being a tumor. A very large tumor that had to be removed ASAP.

The second week of July was spent in a hotel waiting for covid tests, cancer screening, scans, and blood work. And during that time I slept…a lot. But I also managed to finish the last few paragraphs of Impology, and I had a rough draft.

On July 19th I sat in a hotel waiting for my surgery the next day and I decided I had to finish the edits for Impology and get it published before I went in. I would get up and write a few words at a time, then lay down when I got too dizzy. Then try again. It took the rest of the night but I managed to push send on KDP.

The next day Gregg dropped me off at the hospital. He wasn’t allowed to go in with me, or sit in the waiting room. He had to go back to the hotel and pack up, waiting for the doctor to call and tell him if I made it okay… and if the tumor had spread. (Thankfully it didn’t.)

I was in the waiting room trying to sit in a chair and slowly becoming more and more distressed….the tumor was 17 inches, and pressing right on my veins so sitting up for more then a few minutes made me faint. I finally got them to get me a bed. One of the nurses came back to take my vitals and when she saw me she smiled and said “Oh are you in for delivery?” She paled when I said “no, it’s a tumor.” At least I could giggle and tell her it was okay, Lumpy was being evicted, and I was all good.

The surgery went spendedly, and I woke up 25 lbs lighter. Between the tumor, and not being able to eat for a month or two, I lost 50 lbs this last summer. So there’s that.

The rest of July was all about recovery, sleeping a LOT, and just getting back on my feet. I was in the hospital for almost a week and finally able to have more than a pudding for lunch. It was amazing!

We stayed in Seattle until Aug 15th. But an amazing thing happened at the beginning of August, though. I was able to stay awake more. I could concentrate. I was in pain, because I had surgery, but I could still function. That month, even while recuperating, I did another 10k words, the bulk of it in Dragon’s Blood. And I FINISHED the first draft! I was so thrilled!

We drove back to Texas in the middle of Aug. That was an interesting drive. A lot easier than I thought it would be. I slept a lot less than I did on the way north, and we managed to stop and see my daughter in northern CA. It was, in general, a much happier trip. Gregg and I were able to just spend time, laughing and singing, and enjoying the drive this time.

The end of August and the month of September I got through the edits for Dragon’s Blood… except for the major fight scene at the end. Now…Because fight scenes do not come naturally to me they take me a while to write. I have to plan them out, then write them a bit at a time. I will often avoid them because I do not enjoy them as much as I do the rest of the story. And when I got to the edits for this scene I realized how bad the first draft was, and how much rewriting it needed. Ug.

So October I avoided writing.

Back in the hotel while waiting for surgery I started watching a lot of devlogs from indie game designers. I also tried learning a bit of code in-between writing. It was a nice break from the rest of what was happening to me. So in October when I needed a bit of a break I decided to actually try to make a game and made my first one… then…..I joined Ludum Dare.

Ludum Dare is one of the biggest game jams out there, so I decided if I was going to make a game why not make it for Ludum Dare and be courageous. It was so much fun! I dove in both feet first and finished my second game in a weekend. It was a lot of fun, and those who played it seemed to enjoy just driving the ball as fast as possible down the pathway. They also said I made a really pretty game.

That encouraged me to make another… and another. By the end of October I had done three game jams, and four games. But that also meant I didn’t write much.

November I did a lot of art for a different game, and some writing, but I really just focused on re-centering myself. I had been through a lot in 2020 and I never allowed myself to just… take it all in. So I did so then.

That brings us to December. I decided I needed to get Dragon’s Blood out no matter what, so I put my nose to the grindstone and got it out on the 18th of this month!

Since then I’ve been looking at the books I have ready to be finished to decide which one to complete:
Half Blood Sorceress 3
LitRPG 4
Vertigo (litRPG sidequest)
Eternal Tapestry Prequell

I am about 40k words into each work, and all of them are worth publishing. I think for 2021 my goal is to publish all four of them. Now to get started on that…

I’m glad 2020 is over, even if the end of a year does not solve the problems it does encourage us to try again. To make the next year better. Here’s to that.

After ask of this year I think I’ve learned that family is very important to me, and that life isn’t infinite. We could die any day from some random thing. Hiding away in your house isn’t going to save you if it’s your time.

But everyone had to do what’s right for them.

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