Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

2013 in review

It’s January 4th, which might make it too late to write one of those year-in-review posts, but I will try anyway.  I’ve been insanely busy getting ParagraphLine.com going, and you should be reading that, too.  But I thought I’d take a second to make a humblebrag list of what I got done 2013.

First, I finished my book Thunderbird.  This took me longer than I thought, and it was a really mixed bag for me emotionally.  I initially thought I would get another publisher to do the book, and then I chickened out and did it myself, and then the double-whammy of inevitable post-partum depression and trying to publicize and sell the thing just completely gutted me.  This happens with every book, and I think it gets worse each time.  I wish I could just throw the stuff over the transom and let someone else sell it and then find a way to not pay attention at all to the reviews and sales numbers.  I think my new year’s resolution should be to not care about this shit and just keep writing, but it’s hard to write in a vacuum and not ever get any feedback or praise for what you’re creating.  So yeah, a big chunk of 2013 was spent wondering why I ever stopped stamp collecting back in grade school.

One thing that kept me somewhat sane was working on this book called Atmospheres.  Starting back last spring, I would sit down and turn off everything and start up the Sleep album Dopesmoker and listen to it all the way through every day and just brain dump, with the goal of making all of these short, disconnected pieces with no plot, just 500 words a day of descriptions of destruction and despair. I had (and have) no idea how this would play out, but by the fall, the book got up to about 120,000 words.  I’ve been trying to edit it back down, and I still have no idea what to do with it, because it reads like Naked Lunch but without editing.  And as the race to the bottom with self-publishing continues and people only want the same perfect three-act cookie-cutter detective book on their Kindle, it’s hard to put out there something that I can’t even describe or pitch, even if it is some of my best writing ever.

In November, I started another book, which remains untitled, but it was an attempt at writing an extremely plotted story.  I spent probably a month just taking notes and writing outlines, and then wrote the first third of it, which was absolutely brutal, because it’s not bizarro or absurdist or anything like that, and it’s much more long-form than I’m used to writing.  It’s like G.G. Allin trying to write a serious opera in Italian.  I got the first third of it written, something like 60,000 words, and I’m letting it ferment, because it had some serious act 2 issues I need to figure out before I proceed.  I like the idea of the book, although if I stuck to the current pace, it would end up being about a quarter-million words, and then I’d have to deal with the usual cocksuckers that gave me unending shit about my first book being “too long.”  Books are as long as they are long.  Nobody complains about paintings being “too big.”

I had five stories published elsewhere in 2013:

Big thanks to all of the editors that ran that stuff for me. I also had a long-form interview over at The Lit Pub that is worth reading.  I met Joseph Owens through that, and really enjoyed our talk over there.

I guess I also did a hardcover of Rumored to Exist mostly because I wanted one for my own library.  I don’t think anyone else bought one, but that’s fine.

I stopped keeping track of reviews in other publications, because at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, I feel like the review “industry” just went sideways.  There aren’t many good review sites anymore, and I sent a ton of books out for review and in many cases never heard back.  The Lit Pub did run a good review of Thunderbird, and I’ve seen some decent reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but it’s become almost impossible for me to find places to get my books reviewed, and of course I blame myself for not giving up on this shit and turning out formulaic YA Vampire erotica novels or whatever the hell.

I did a little bit of travel, but it’s never enough.  Got out to New York once for work, LA twice for short visits, went to Reno for Thanksgiving, got in a long weekend in Monterey, spent a week and change in Maui, and did the trail of tears visit to Indiana and Wisconsin for the holidays.  I liked Maui, and really miss LA.  I’ve determined there’s no way I could ever afford to live in New York again, although it’s nice to visit for three or four days on someone else’s dime.  I’ve had a strange nostalgia for my place in Astoria, being holed up there during winters, with the Eraserhead-sounding radiators and hoarder collection of DVDs and video games.  But then I remember I hated it there, and I never really got any writing done.  And I recently found an old video tape of this “tour” I did of my house in 2003, specifically so I’d remember it ten years later, and it absolutely horrified me.  I’m no zen minimalist, but I had some serious mental health problems back then to stock my tiny apartment with so much shit.  I watched that and immediately packed up four bags of books and videos to take to Goodwill.

My computer ended up in the shop on a recall issue, but I got the motherboard replaced, and I’m still milking the 2010 model for as long as possible before I have to upgrade.  I did upgrade both my phone and iPad.  I otherwise spent my gear obsession energy on the bass, buying a new five string and then building a new four string.  I think my playing slightly progressed over the year, but it’s still an ongoing thing.

Had a death flu at the start of the year, but otherwise physical health has been okay.  I started going to Weight Watchers meetings again, and went from 189 to 171 over the course of the year.  My ideal weight is between 170 and 175, so I’ll take it. My mental health was somewhat fucked all year, as was my sleep, and I don’t want to get into that except to say it’s getting better.

My only goals for 2014 are to write more, read more, and not care about the past and the stuff I really shouldn’t be caring about.  I also have this goal to see more people this year, and if you’re in the bay area, you should ping me and we should hang out.

With that, I should get back to actually writing. Hope your 2013 was decent.