2022 Year In Review Blog

December 31st, 2022

It’s always fun rereading last year’s wrap-up blog while I prepare to write the next one. 2022 was a good year — my best so far in terms of writing — but, boy, did I have some delusional goals going into January. Had I fulfilled everything I planned while writing last year’s blog, I would probably have gone clinically insane after isolating myself for three hundred and sixty-five consecutive days.

All jokes aside, 2022 really was a good year. This is easily my favourite year since the outbreak of COVID-19 and it’s one I’ve enjoyed both on a personal and a professional level.

I think 2022 is the year in which I really found myself as a writer. That process really began in September of 2021, when I started writing full time, but everything started clicking in a way unlike anything I had yet experienced some time around May. Going full-time was the best thing that has ever happened to my progression.

I often talked about improvements in 2021, but I was still largely dissatisfied. I am a perfectionist who is always hunting progress — I literally plan on studying and taking notes during my flight tomorrow on how my favourite author does indirect exposition — but this is the year I began really liking my writing. There are always bits of minutia I seek to improve and I still have a long way to go, but I am finally happy with where I am.

I’m excited for a different kind of learning going forward — not crafting my style and learning on the job, but really honing in on fine details and making something I think is pretty good into something great.

This progress really does come down to writing full-time. Not only has that choice granted me much more writing time, but it has freed up my schedule for things like reading. That might sound trivial, but it’s not. Most of the best writers are well-read, and there are reasons for that. I like studying the styles of any author I enjoy — and even some I don’t — and 2022 has let me do more of this than ever. 

Not that I’ve spent all of my time studying. I might not have reached my lofty, delusional goals that were mentioned during the blog last year, but I did manage quite the year in terms of output. 

I wrapped up CoP Year 1, got more than half of CoP Year 2 done, finished and revised PoP Book 3, got about 40,000 words done on PoP Book 4, and had some really good novel progress. Oh, and I started casually pre-writing the next fic I’ll be posting once CoP finishes whenever time allowed me those opportunities.

I’m happy with all that. Are there things I wish I would have done a better job of? Yes — I did a really poor job of managing work on my novel and need a much more refined way of doing that going forward. I also do have some regrets in terms of the way I approached the PoP Book 3 revisions. Not the revisions themselves — I’m actually really pleased with how those came out — but the way I approached them in regards to scheduling.

These are learning curves that will make me a better writer going forward. If 2022 was the year I really learned to write the way I wanted, I want 2023 to be the year I really learn how to approach this in the most professional way possible. All of those lessons will be invaluable in that process.

Those around me will play large parts, too. I really can’t say enough about the people I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by.

Let’s keep this professional for now and talk about the people helping me over on the administrative side.

There are some things that need work going into 2023, but this is probably the happiest I have ever been with the team around me. Things are completed nowadays with an efficiency I once envied and others have gotten very good at handling the time-consuming sort of work that used to eat away at my writing time.

Our star of the year has been Thanos. It was crazy reading the last blog and not seeing him mentioned among my list of moderators. I can hardly believe everything he has done on the administrative side has happened in the past twelve months.

I’m not going to bore you all by listing all the things Thanos has done or helped make possible, but he has been an invaluable part of the team. His work on the website has been nothing short of a godsend, he is the primary reason I have finally gotten the stories caught up on AO3, and he has been a fantastic addition to our mod team.

The coolest thing about Thanos this year has been watching his confidence grow. Always the competence was there, but he never quite believed it early on. The simplest typo corrections were qualified with an essay of why it was wrong, every bit of moderation was triple-guessed, and I dared not leave him something too important — not because he was incapable, but because the stress on his end would have been immense. 

That has all changed. The buzz word in the past six months has been initiative. While he was learning, I would tell Thanos exactly what I needed, how it could be done and help walk him through it. Those days are long gone. The broadest requests yield perfect results these days. Oftentimes I want something done but haven’t the foggiest idea of how we might do it. Then I tell Thanos and it’s done within an hour or two and in a way I would never have thought of. Just as often, it’s him suggesting things we should do, or reminding me of things that need doing. That evolution has been a joy to watch, and it has made my life very easy these past few months.

Athena also needs a mention here, of course. Most big things done by myself or the server are orchestrated by her. The fundraiser, most of the server events, the podcast — none of those would happen if not for Athena. I have waxed poetic about her often and worry this is already long-winded, so I will keep it brief and say that she remains as invaluable as ever and that, if there are things about the server you especially enjoy, you should probably thank Athena because she doubtlessly had a hand in it.

Then there’s the personal side of things, and hasn’t that come a long way in 2022?

I can’t really do this without grouping Athena, Reggie, and 3CP together. These are three of my closest friends and all people I began talking to back in 2020. Our friendships strengthened in 2021, but never did any of us quite believe it would grow the way it has this year.

The four of us officially graduated from the ranks of Internet friends when we travelled together for the best part of a month this past summer. This was easily the highlight of my year. We saw some incredible sights and forged vivid memories I will never forget, but it is the people that made that trip so special.

Any lingering doubts I had were assuaged. I’m not sure I have ever had a group of friends quite like this one. All of them offer different things, but there is a great deal of overlap and these three are responsible for so many of my highlights this past year that it is somewhat startling. 

Whether it’s Athena being one of the most supportive people I have ever met, Reggie being effortlessly charismatic in a way that eases whatever tension might exist, or 3CP making me laugh until my ribs hurt while simultaneously giving the outside opinion I needed most, all three of these people are incredibly special and have changed my life in ways I will forever be grateful for.

I can hardly say the word special without mentioning Lily. There are plenty of jokes that go around about the two of us, but she really is one of the most incredible people I have ever met.

I don’t want to ruin her persona altogether, but there is a lot more there than what she shows in public. This woman has an angel’s patience. She is seriously one of the most patient people I have ever met. The number of venting rants she has received from me this year is probably startling, but she is always there. She never makes those moments about herself and always seems to have the right words.

So many times this year, I have trudged through bleak moods and believed no cure existed, only to be smiling or laughing ten minutes later while Lily somehow manages to make me relax again.

That’s a difficult talent to express through words. A lot goes into it — an incredible eye for social details and a bubbly sort of charm that can’t be taught both play their part, but I think my favourite thing about Lily is just how comfortable everything about her feels.

I can never remember a time we argued. I can never remember wanting to just relax on my own while she’s around, not even when socially exhausted. She brings things out of me that no one else does and spearheads one of the easiest, most comfortable dynamics I have ever been a part of. It’s one I cherish every day and one that so often helped brighten up my year.

I guess I should talk about the stories, since that’s what the majority of you are here for:

Let’s get Ashes of Chaos out of the way.

This was the most delusional of all my predictions during the last blog. I really did intend on finishing Year 3 sooner rather than later, but the more refined my writing became, the more problems I began noticing in the construction of this story.

I’m not going to spend too much time explaining this. I have talked about it in this past September’s Monthly Forecast, but I will give a brief synopsis of why this fic is on hiatus since I am never not buried in questions about it nowadays.

Most of AoC was written back in 2017 while I struggled through some fairly serious depression. I never had any expectation that I would ever post the story. The only reason I did is that, in 2020, I began hobby writing to pass the time and wanted to know how I could improve. I decided to post Ashes of Chaos since it was the most writing I had ever done in the past, so I figured feedback on that would be a good place to start.

The problem with continuing something written five years ago is that a lot has changed. I knew not how to write then, and I have changed a lot in other ways. I am not old and I find myself changing more and more with each passing year. A lot of what interested me back in 2017 does not interest me the same way now.

That and a lack of craft back then have combined and led to me being pinned in several corners I am dissatisfied with. I am currently exploring ways I might write myself out of these corners. It’s slow going and I have not yet stumbled upon many good solutions, but we will see if I can find something going forward.

Don’t expect more Ashes of Chaos until I have some solutions I am at least satisfied with.

Moving onto more pleasant things— I made fantastic progress while writing Conjoining of Paragons this past year. Not only did I finish Year 1, but I wrote a large portion of Year 2.

The end is nearing awfully now. Chapter 53 is currently written and will be posted on Patreon this upcoming week. I don’t have an exact number, but I estimate somewhere around a dozen chapters left. It will probably end up being a few more than that, but the point is, I’m close.

This has been kind of crazy. Most of what I planned for CoP from the beginning is stuff from its second year. It was surreal finally reaching those scenes I originally planned, and finishing this story in the upcoming months will be a complicated cluster of feelings I both dread and await with eagerness.

I guess this is the best place to speak about The Road to Hell.

This is a fic I began toiling with back in the spring when I had some free time during my travels. I’m really bad at writing while travelling, but I wanted something to keep my brain going. This led to me planning something a little bit different.

This will be the fic I begin posting once CoP is finished. It is another time travel story, but of a different variety. I won’t spoil too much, but try imagining what the Marauder’s Era might look like if Dumbledore and Grindelwald had taken over the world some thirty-five years ago.

I’m currently throwing patrons roughly a chapter of this a month, but that number will multiply once I finish writing CoP. Discord members will actually be getting the prologue of this story soon as a special thank you for 5,000 members, but chapter 1 will not be forthcoming for quite some time. I don’t expect regular Discord updates on this story until members have the CoP epilogue. So I’m afraid non-patrons still have quite the wait.

Finally there is Perversion of Purity. I have cited this as my best work within the fanfiction community several times. Road to Hell is significantly better, but I do think this is a cut above CoP, and probably a thousand bloody slashes higher than any heights AoC has reached regarding quality.

Since I know this is the least popular of my three stories, I’ll explain a bit.

It is a dark, realistic take on what might happen if Harry landed in Slytherin. It’s relatively free of canon tropes and cliches. Everything here is rooted in psychology and cloaked in believability — or at least, I’d like to think it is.

The first two years suffer from the same problems early CoP chapters are plagued by — mostly some bloated prose and dialogue that could be tighter and more consistent — but I’m really happy with how Book 3 shaped up. The reception appears very warm thus far, and I think there’s some really good stuff contained in there.

Book 4 is the best fanfiction I have yet written — sans, perhaps, The Road to Hell — and I am excited for you all to read it. Here’s hoping I don’t need quite so extensive a revision process as compared to Book 3.

There isn’t much to say for Fabric of Fate. I’m really not sure where this story is going to slot in going forward. I have actually had the urge to write this quite a bit lately, but time has not been abundant. I begin to worry it never will be. Only time will tell, I suppose — there are a lot of stories contained within this tale that I think are worth writing; I just need to find time to actually write them.

Then there is the novel. I talked about this extensively in December’s Monthly Forecast, so I’ll try and keep this succinct.

I was originally writing a novel called The Gilded King, but inspiration struck early in November and I began work on something new. Never has an idea appeared so rich and well-formed inside my head. I felt that ignoring it would be a missed opportunity, and I’m proud to report I was correct.

There are about 50,000 words written for this story so far. I am very happy with it — it is the best thing I have written by miles and I can’t wait for you all to one day read it.

That look ahead into the future brings me to the fun part of this blog — the part where I make projections for 2023. Here’s hoping these aren’t quite so delusional as last year’s.

I’ll note here that I will not be projecting progress on Ashes of Chaos or Fabric of Fate. One of them has a whole host of problems I have not yet solved, and the other has not found a regular spot in my writing rotation. Any projections on either story would be wishful guesswork and entirely disingenuous.

I should also mention that, this year, I plan on doing things a little bit differently.

There will be no change in output for my patrons — and the rest of my readers may actually get CoP more often once it’s finished — but I do plan on spending much more time focused on my own original fiction.

If we lived in an ideal world, every second month would be spent focused entirely on the novel. That would mean I would write two months worth of Patreon uploads one month, then work on the novel the next month. That would be a continuous process that would constantly repeat itself.

This probably isn’t very realistic. That sort of pre-writing takes a lot of time and I worry how fatigued I would grow while working with this schedule.

I think a more realistic projection is that every third month will be spent working on my novel. I plan to experiment with both ideas and see how well I hold up under the stress of each. That experimentation will decide which approach I take, but the point is, I hope for a lot more progress this year regarding my novel.

I’ll start with that, since I have spent so much time setting it up.

What would I like to accomplish this year? I would like to finish the first draft’s manuscript. What do I think is realistic this year? Writing somewhere between 120,000 and 160,000 words and not quite being done yet.

It is my goal to finish the first rough manuscript in 2024, but in order for that to happen, I need a good, productive stretch in the next twelve months. I hope to find that perfect balance and get some pages turning!

Projecting fanfiction is easier.

Conjoining of Paragons will be finished in the next handful of months. Exactly when it’s finished will depend on the number of chapters remaining, plus how much time I spend writing fanfiction versus original fiction. This makes projecting an exact timeline impossible, but I’m pretty confident I will wrap it up some time during the spring months.

We’ll see. The next couple of months will decide a more specific timeline and I will keep everyone posted via the upcoming Monthly Forecasts.

Perversion of Purity is less simple. Book 4 will be significantly longer than Book 3. I talk about this a bit in my PoP Book 3 Release Blog, but I’ll be using chapters written from non-Harry POVs. Harry himself — whose arc makes up the vast majority of Book 4 — also has a lot more to do. 

This is the point at which PoP begins telling the story on a global stage. As the scope broadens, so too must the story, and that usually requires more words.

My goal is to finish Book 4 this year. Pretty straightforward, in theory, but it may end up being closer than I hope for. I don’t anticipate Book 5 being as long as Book 4, so finishing this saga in 2023 will leave me in a good spot going forward.

There are some other, non-story goals I have in 2023.

I want to keep expanding the Discord server and ensuring everyone on there enjoys their stay. Anyone who has joined the server has done me a great service and it is a joy having you all. I think we’re on the right path here already, but I just want to keep the ball rolling and improve in any way we can.

Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real, waking up and seeing what I have created in this community. If that can continue expanding while maintaining the positive culture I remain so very proud of, then I will be pleased by whatever progress is made during 2023.

If anyone has any suggestions going into 2023, I’d love to hear them. This is a community and everyone’s voice will forever be appreciated. 

Most of my other goals this upcoming year are of the personal variety:

I want to do a better job of engaging with my family; I want to do a better job of balancing my social and professional life; I want to continue reading as much as I’ve read this past year; and I want to gain back some of the fitness stolen from me by a year of physical rehabilitation. There are other things like this, but the commonality is simple.

I want to improve. Every year should be a step forward. New Year’s resolutions are all well and good, but my goal now remains the same it has always been.

Every day is an opportunity. Steps forward can always be taken — it is my goal to remain on the path forward as often as I possibly can.

Thank you all so, so much for your support in 2022.

My patrons are incredible and the reason I can do this. Their support means more to me than they will ever comprehend.

I’d like to offer both Cup and Lily their own, additional shoutouts. You two are generous beyond anyone else I have ever known. I don’t expect nearly so much generosity on a yearly basis, but just know that you guys have made lasting impacts in my life with your contributions this year. I can never repay you for that generosity no matter how hard I try, and the pair of you are absolutely wonderful.

I know the emphasis is so often on patrons, but really, I’d like to thank EVERYONE. Whether you’ve joined the Discord server and become an active member, lurked around for the chapters, or just read my stories. Anyone who has ever contributed in any meaningful way has helped lead me here.

This is genuinely the happiest I have ever been, and such a large part of that is thanks to you guys. My gratitude knows no bounds and cannot be described with simple things like words. Instead I will do my best to continually display it via my actions in 2023 and well beyond.

Thank you all for changing my life, and I hope you’re all excited for a wonderful year to come.

Happy New Years, everyone!

Ace

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