All is New

Every year seems like a fresh slate, a place where you can breathe, sit back and get your crap together again. We make resolutions, and one by one they are quickly broken. We are creatures of habit, and the more a habit is ingrained, the easier it is to continue doing those things. Sometimes the goal is to break the habit, usually, I suppose by driving it away with a new one, and sometimes you could try adding another. Everybody has the same ideas, right? We all want to be thinner than we are, I’m certainly no exception to that. People want to create new things in their lives and believe me there is never too late to try and do anything. I suppose you could fail at eighty-six to create a thirty-year writing career, but I don’t see why anything could be impossible to a certain extent. 

Last year, my goal was to write as consistently as I could and do all of the therapy that I could. We got the stander, on which I am continuing to improve with, if slowly. I’ll be doing more with that in 2020. I have some crazy goals. I got some interesting manuscripts written last year. I’m still deep in the editing process, but I feel really good about them. I’ve still got a lot to learn about self-publishing.  Sometimes it’s useful to look back, reassess and get ready for the next year.  

Wins in 2019

This year I bought a Stream Deck and got the adaptive x-box controller set up. The Stream Deck is a little button box that live streamers use to keep key combos and sequences handy fir operating their live streams. I have found many more uses. I dabbled with live streams on Twitch, but for me, the breakthrough was being able to single punch for key combinations with my stylus. Doing a Ctrl +c and Ctrl +v for copy and paste can be difficult when you are working with essentially a single-finger operation. Those are the easy examples. With the Stream Deck, I have single buttons to start streaming and run my Twitch channel through several camera changes and close it out with timers between functions, and single keys that help me blast a row of spells off in Dungeons and Dragons Online. This opened me to a world of experiences that I was otherwise shut off from. I’m getting occupational therapy from it, forcing my hands to grasp and manipulate things, joysticks and large buttons they are technically still not able to work very well, but I am improving. 

I believe gaming is helping me to improve grip. It can be painful, and I do have days after gaming where my fingers are just mush but isn’t that true of weight lifting? Do you have to take time between workout dates for the muscles that have been torn apart to reform stronger? 

I improved from just using the stylus, which is definitely still my primary input device, to also using the Apple Pencil, and my other handheld stylus. I have these egg-shaped cushions on both of them that make them big and fat, easier to grasp, and I’ve been steadily progressing with them. Last year I couldn’t hold much of anything in this pencil fashion. Still lots of progress to go, but I’m pleased. Similarly in using another too more often to operate a fork.

I went from being able to wiggle my legs a little to slide them left and right, and I’ve improved in feeling and I can raise my right leg, nearly high enough to turn over. This is very exciting for me. I’ve started using a standing machine to help me regain strength by putting weight through my legs, and though I haven’t improved that much with it yet (I went too high too fast too early) I had generous help to get it and Just looking at it makes me feel grateful.

This year I implemented Grammarly, with the intent to improve my writing. I took the plunge and bought it by the year. Some of the manuscripts I’ve written and haven’t edited yet from when my arm was much weaker are really rough. The idea of facing them without the help of a tool like this was pretty daunting. Since I picked it up it has opened a floodgate of activity from me behind the scenes. I’ve gotten seriously organized, and have a much better plan in place to see books through draft after draft, preserving each one as I go. 

True I’m lumping November and December of 2018 in this next achievement, but this year I have, sitting here, in this hospital bed, at home, written five new book manuscripts, re-edited, refreshed and republished two more, started a new version of the johnsaye.com website for my books, including a weekly blog post, and I’ve expanded my reach of publication through Draft2Digital. Books I publish no longer exist just on the Kindle platform, but are now also on Apple Books, the Nook, Kobo and wherever else ebooks are sold. 

In 2020 I plan to:

  • Continue writing new manuscripts
  • Expand into print editions of my novels
  • Finish updating my backlist with fresh covers and edit runs through Grammarly
  • Explore avenues of creating audio versions of my work
  • Shed my right-hand brace and start using the handheld styluses more and continue to exercise my hands
  • Get at least one character to 20th level in Dungeons and Dragons Online
  • Oh, and Walk again. My criteria for this is the ability to stand, pivot and sit in my wheelchair, make it a few steps back and forth to the bathroom on my own and get back again, then I’ll move on from there. 

Goals

I don’t really like to call them resolutions. I like to call them goals. I have a long list of them, and I kind of want to break them down here. 

This kind of goal?

1. Write More 

I want to complete at least two to three new manuscripts this year. I want them to be longer, more complicated stories. I already have several ideas in the pipeline. This should be easy right? I’m already used to doing it, I just want to continue. I’ve got several manuscripts on the pile, waiting to be edited and they are taunting me.

2. Edit/publish More

Like I’ve said, the edits pile is planning my demise should I ignore it much further. I’m going to attack it this year and see if I can get some new work ready for human consumption. 

3. Update my current backlist 

I’m going to update everything with fresh covers, maybe fix some commas here and there, that kind of thing. At the same time, I’m opening my releases wider than just on the Kindle. I’ll get my stuff available on Nook, Kobo, everywhere ebooks are sold.

4. Get Out More

I need to seek out ways to get stronger, increase my stamina, and get to where I can tolerate longer stretches out or up in the wheelchair. I like to go places, and I haven’t really been able to for some time. My list is growing. I live closer to Florida these days and the number of good tourist traps there is weighing on my mind! In this vein, I want to extend my reach, see if I can connect with any local Gamers around here. I’ve got a couple of comic shops staked out that I’d like to frequent. I want to poke around in coin shops, and junk stores. I want to find antiques that make no sense,  buy them and then send them to unsuspecting friends. 

5. Walk Again

This needs to happen as quickly as possible this year. I’m using the stander, doing what exercise I can, I’ve got to strengthen up and getting my hands as strong as I can (gotta hold the walker or cane with something) and somehow by will alone or force, get my legs to start waking up more, so maybe I can hobble to the bathroom on my own. Following those first steps, my goal is to hike again. I’m not talking mountains, but parks, preferably with a lot of benches and swings in them. I used to do that for an hour a day as long as I could. I really miss that. It’s a goal. 

6. Reconnect with Friends

Everybody loses touch. We change High Schools, go to different colleges, work different jobs, get married, (some don’t) and generally move on with our lives. People you used to hang with, or game with. I did a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, RPGs, and Trading Card Games. Everyone lives in their own little bubble, and I am for the most part a pretty immobile dude at the moment, but I want to see what I can do to poke back into some of their lives in the next year somehow.

Kind of a lofty list, I know. 

Can I do it all? Write and edit new books, get out more, increase my stamina and learn to walk? I’m going to find out.