2017 was an absolutely massive year for me, in many ways. I suppose it makes sense that the year where I turn 18, technically making me an adult, is important, but so much more has happened than I could’ve ever expected. I have no doubt that many things which went on in my life during 2017 will have a massive influence on my life long term. In this post, I’d like to recap many of the major things that happened to me this year, in non-chronological order, and end by stating what I’d like to get done in 2018.
I guess I’ll start with school. After 13 years straight of schooling I finally graduated high school in June and boy, is it weird. Unlike many of my peers, I opted to take a gap year, not even remotely eager to spend more time studying and taking tests. Spending half a year outside of the school system has given taught me a few things about myself. First, I’ve realized I’m even more introverted and uninterested in spending time with others than I thought I was. Secondly, I’ve learned that I can actually be motivated without guidance. I kind of realized this earlier since I started stepping up my output rate on here during the school year itself, something I’ll get into more later, but it’s really nice to know.
For a long time, I’ve been afraid that I’m just a naturally lazy person. The fact that I’m still motivating myself to get things done even when I could theoretically just do nothing all day is really encouraging. Of course, whether blogging and making youtube videos counts as “doing something” is a question for you to decide but I’m making some money off of it and growing as a writer so I think it counts.
Of course, this time outside school has also made me realize how much I don’t want to actually go off to college, especially if I have to live in the dorms. We’ll see how that situation shakes out I guess.
Another area where I’ve progressed a lot this year is in transition. I only realized I was trans in 2016 so it’s hardly like I’ve been waiting forever but getting on HRT this year was a great feeling. There’s been complications and all since America’s medical infrastructure is awful, so I can’t say whether or not things are progressing as quickly as I would like, but things are generally going well.
And that’s a great place to segue into finding a community online, which ties into my growth. This might be the biggest thing that happened to me this year. In 2016 I was a tiny, unknown blogger who got under 600 views for the entire year. Not awful, sure, better than some people even, but not where I wanted to be. My expectations may not have been reachable since I was a fan of the biggest anibloggers and anitubers, people who are guaranteed to get more views than I was getting. But it was still discouraging and, for a while, I thought about quitting.
But I didn’t quit. Not only did I not quit, I started writing more and more at the beginning of the year. For a month or two I was putting out 5 posts a week, occasionally 6. That level of output wasn’t conducive to consistently good posts but it was conducive to slowly growing and establishing myself. As soon as I slowed down a bit, putting more time into my posts, I started to get real views. My views in May were more than half my total views from 2016. It was at that point that I knew I could meaningfully grow.
This growth comes down to a few things. The first, as I said, was high output. I’ve learned all throughout this year that high output is the number one thing you need to grow. The more things you put out, the more likely it is that one of those things will catch on. Most of your stuff isn’t going to do that well, but if you just keep producing content than there’s a decent chance that something will.
The second is that fact I’d already been blogging. If you compare my writing from the beginning of 2016 to the beginning of 2017 you’ll see a sharp difference in writing quality. The fact that I just kept working on improving my writing played a massive part in my ability to grow. If I had written my 2017 posts with my 2016 or 2015 skill level, I wouldn’t have started doing well.
The third part was finding a niche. For me, this was yuri. There are plenty of people who write about yuri but I think that I bring a unique perspective to it. For one thing, I’m the only person I know of doing any data analysis in regards to yuri. For another, I’m one of the relatively few people seriously interested in fully examining the genre in all its forms, researching the history and diving deep. By coming at the genre from a queer perspective with a focus on how it reflects queerness in many ways, I’ve managed to bring a unique voice. At the same time, I’ve continued to write on other topics. Finding a specific niche but keeping yourself broad allows yourself to grow two audiences who are willing to consume the other content, something which really helps.
Finally was simply making friends. I might not be a massive fan of real-life social interaction, at least not for extended periods, but I certainly do like having friends. During high school I kind of lost touch with most of my previous online friends. I’m so happy to have made a new group of friends on anitwitter with whom I can share my passions. And while this might sound a little utilitarian, it’s important to make friends when you want to grow. Friends will read your stuff, friends will share your stuff and friends will support you when you’re upset that you’re not getting enough views.
I never expected that my blog would get over 10,000 views this year, or that I’d be able to actually start a youtube channel and have over 500 subs before the year ended but I guess we never know what’ll happen in the future. At the year’s start, the idea that I’d be making money with what I was writing about was absurd but now it’s reality. I’m happy about that, though it is a bit strange.
Now that I’ve probably gotten the big thing out of the way, a bunch of other great things happened to me this year as well. I joined the trans anitwitter discord, which proved important in that whole “finding friends” thing. The fact that I’m now a mod when I was initially nervous to even join is astounding but I’m not upset about it. I feel like I am, at least to some extent, a relatively prominent voice in the circles I’m a part of now. It’s hard to reckon with that when I feel out of place. After all, like I said, I’m just some 18 year old who’s barely out of high school. But like I said, you never know where you’re future is going to lead I guess. I might as well make use of the exposure I have and try and do good.
I also moved back to California this year. It’s been a long time coming as I haven’t lived in the state for well over a decade now, but I’ve always considered it my home and I’m happy to be back. Of course, I probably won’t be happy once I have to actually start paying rent but we’ll deal with that down the road.
Anime was great this year, though you’ll see that in my anime of the year video so I won’t harp on it. Really, my media experiences this year have been great in general. I played more games than I have in a long time and I feel like I’ve gotten back into manga and visual novels. Even anime is still incredibly enjoyable to me despite the fact that it’s always inching closer towards becoming a job. I’m just really satisfied with where my life is at right now, even if I have some anxiety about where I’m headed.
So let’s get into what I want to be accomplished in 2018.
By the end of the year, I want to be making $500 a month total off of my videos, Patreon, and any other sources of writing income. This is an incredibly ambitious goal despite not being that much money but this isn’t worth pursuing long-term if I can’t even get there. It’ll take a lot of work but hey, like I said, output it key.
I want to have 500 anime completed and 150 days watched on MAL. This isn’t a particularly important goal but it’s one that is fairly achievable. I just like to think that I’ve made progress in my anime fandom at the end of every year and those figures are enough to feel like I’ve made progress.
I want 10,000 subs on youtube. Again, this might be a bit ambitious but how am I supposed to make $500 a month if I don’t even have 10,000 subs. My more immediate goal is 1,000 by my birthday in early March but that’s looking more and more likely so I’ve got to look into the future here.
I want to start getting review copies of manga. Getting SeaBed for free has opened my eyes to the great potential I have in getting free stuff. I buy a bunch of manga anyway so it would save me money while also growing my brand. Sounds like a good idea to me.
I want to get good enough at Japanese that I’m able to meaningfully read through VNs, books, manga, etc. Not enough to do it without a dictionary necessarily, I’m sure I’ll need that for quite some time, but I want to get past my current level of always feeling like I haven’t progressed in the last two years.
I want to start exercising regularly. This might be a generic resolution but oh well.
I want to work on my voice. Voice training is a pain but it’s something I should work on eventually and 2018 is as good a time as any.
I want to write a novel. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I didn’t plan one this year so I didn’t have a chance. Who knows if I’ll find the time, but I’d like to.
And lastly, I want to keep enjoying myself online with y’all. Like I said earlier, I’m so happy to have found the friends I did this year. Starting this blog back in December of 2015 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’m so glad I did it. I’ve beaten the two-year curse. Now let’s keep this going for as long as I love writing and anime.