On Small Failures and Getting Back Up Again: A Sept + Oct Writing Round-Up

WELL. After almost two years of yammering about my writing goals, I actually forgot to write up my progress against my goals for the year until it was a few days into October. Things have been understandably crazy: my kid started part-time daycare in September; we’ve survived a few rounds of requisite “grunge” and “spikey death” that comes with exposure to bipedal germ factories and fall weather; and I’ve been querying agents with The Botanizer.

Not posting last month’s round-up is a great example of the many, many little things that have gone, are going, and will go wrong in my life. The accumulation of these little failures eats away at me. Add forgetting something like this–that I actually enjoy–to the trickle of rejections for my novel and for my short fiction, to the uphill battle of my immune system, to the ridiculous lack of sleep I’m getting thanks to my FOMO kid, and I start feeling really lost. No wonder my word count has been so low, two months running. I can’t just pass it off to “drafting is hard after revising for so long!” I’ve been in a gross, confusing, frustrating place with myself for two months running. And it’s hard to admit that all of those things piles up and affects my work, but really it does.

But here’s the thing I see as I look back. I kept at it. I sat my butt in the chair and I tried. No, I didn’t draft an entire novel in two months. No I never got to the end of Part 1 much less the rest of it. But I am working. And I like what I’m working on. And I’ve kept my short fiction on submission and I’ve kept at the querying. This is what it takes to be a writer and a mom and a wife and a sane person of my own making.

There’s a lot to celebrate after two months in a mire of life’s making. I can’t say I’m really out of it yet, but I’m going to take my wins anyway.

While I’m not doing #NaNoWriMo–I started this new novel back in September so that technically DQs me–I am definitely going to take part in the cheering and will take heart in all of the encouragement and excitement flowing as part of it. I have numbers in mind, goals I’d like to hit, but what I’ll really be glad of is getting to December and knowing I did my best with the hand I got dealt.

For anyone interested here’s where I stand on my goals for the year.

  • Words Written: YTD: 143,419 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+
  • Works Complete: YTD: 8 | 2017 Goal: 10
  • Short Fiction Submissions to Paying Markets: YTD: 72 | Lifetime: 94
    • I’ll probably hit my 100th submission this year; my 100th rejection will probably come through in the new year.
    • Note that this does not count querying stats, which I’ll only share after that process has wrapped, whatever the result.
  • Books Read: YTD: 24 | 2017 Goal: 30
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August Writing Round-Up

Hey, guess what. That book I’ve been writing for almost three years? Yeah that one? Yeah I finished it. (Somewhere in the peanut gallery, someone shouts, “Again?!” To which I reply: “ITSTHEFOURTHDRAFTTHISISWRITINGHUSH.”)

It has been a highly consistent month of writing–I was either revising or writing all but four days this month–and it shows. The novel revision is done. The novella revision is so close. I got a new story out this month. And though the wins never come quite often enough to beat the brain weasels back entirely, I’ve been reminded again and again that friends and family help beat back the rest. The successes this month, the ending on a high note: that’s because I put the work in and because when it didn’t make enough of a difference I had good people there to remind me that I put the work in. So if you were one of those people, thank you.

  • Words Written: 4,281  (YTD: 116,508 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+) Concerned that this bullet has been low for months? Yeah, me too, but that’s only because I’ve been revising and bumbling about with flash. Just wait till I start the next novel.
  • Works Complete: 1 (YTD: 8 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 6 (YTD: 58)
  • Books Read: 3 (YTD: 16 | 2017 Goal: 30)
  • PLUS
    • My story “The Moon, the Sun, and the Truth” over at Shimmer has gotten some great reviews (links on my bibliography page!)
    • 7 rejections this month, with 2 gut-wrenching, celebrate-the-honorable-loss personals
    • This is big so I need to say it again: I FINISHED REVISING THE BOTANZIER!
    • I started revising my friendly-contest-among-pros-winning novella and it’s…really guys, it’s good. I can’t wait to share it.
    • Still fundraising read a bit more here.
    • Days I’ve written/revised this month: 27/31 (Does another victory lap)
    • Days written since the inauguration: 150/222
    • Longest streak: 31 days (SO CLOSE)

So what’s on the docket for next month? Botanizer-related stuff that I’ll share in one big post (or maybe a series) at some point; sending out the novella to a few sensitivity and beta readers; and starting the next big project. I’ll keep you posted!

June Writing Round-Up and Mid-Year Review

Hello 2017 Hump Day! How are we already halfway through this year? Oh, right: we’ve been working our tushes off!

Here’s how things stand with my writing goals:

  • Words Written: 2,011  (YTD: 107,810 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+)
  • Works Complete: 1 (YTD: 6 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 5 (YTD: 42)
  • Books Read: 1 (YTD: 12 | 2017 Goal: 30)
  • PLUS
    • I have a story publishing tomorrowShimmer Number 38 will be live by morning and available for purchase. Expect a post with links and the GORGEOUS cover tomorrow.
    • 2 new stories submitted, 2 rejections (both forms, #sadtrombone)–including my FIFTIETH REJECTION (#allrejoicing)
    • I did not finish Botanizer revisions, but I’m moving along reasonably well. This is all hard, scary stuff at this point but the manuscript will be far better for it. My word-count has been low this month since I’m doing a lot of cutting and re-writing in the next draft and I’m not counting that for/against my goal for the year.
    • My novella-in-progress took first place in my division on Codex! Huzzah! It was a big ego boost to hear my peers praise it and raise great concerns with my first draft. Now I’m doing my research so I get everything really, really right when I tackle revisions (after Botanizer, I promise).
    • I finished a short story and critiqued it with my writing group! I still need to revise it, but I love it and where it’s going.
    • Days I’ve written/revised this month: 13/30
    • Days written since the inauguration: 96/160
    • Longest streak: 31 days

So here’s some straightforward info about this year to-date:

  • 2 short fiction sales
  • 6 complete works
    • 4 short stories, revised/submitted
    • 1 novella
    • 1 novel
  • 12 books read
  • 42 submissions to paying markets
    • 2 acceptances
    • 34 rejections
      • 27 form/lower tier
      • 7 personal/higher-tier
  • 50th lifetime rejection achieved
  • 107, 810 words written.

This all feels really good. As much as I’ve struggled to get my butt in the chair this month for all sorts of absolutely legitimate #life reasons, I’m doing good work. And my productive months really outweigh the months I struggle. So it’s all a matter of getting back to it when I can.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for links to Shimmer!

February Writing Round-Up

Twenty-eight days of work. Twenty-eight days of not taking any downtime for the sake of downtime. This has been a good month.

  • Words Written: 33,543  (YTD: 55,981 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+)
  • Works Complete: 1 flash piece finished, revised, and submitted! (YTD: 2 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 9 (YTD: 22)
  • Books Read: 4 (YTD: 7* | 2017 Goal: 30) *I think I missed a book in my January report
  • PLUS
    • 7 rejections (1 personal)
    • Attended Bokone 2017 as a panelist and moderator! Best Boskone yet for me!
    • I did take those days and one for prep off of writing, in part because what little down-time I had was given to ELF. But I’m okay with that. That was work, but it wasn’t writing. I’m proud that I got back to it with no hesitation. That’s how it should be.
    • I interviewed author Meg Howrey and the Q&A appeared in Publishers Weekly! I’ve got a few more of these in the work beyond the reviews I’ve been doing for them.
    • Codex Weekend Warrior 2017 wrapped. I wrote 4/5 stories and have revised and subbed 2 of those 4 already this year. Very pleased with the other 3 ideas that came from the contest, and they’re in my queue. I’ll definitely play again next year, and I’m going to shoot for finishing all 5 stories.
    • I’ve entered #PitchMadness! Just a good way to get myself prepped for everything that comes next for Botanizer.
    • Speaking of Botanizer, my critique is next Sunday. #dyingofbrainweasels
    • I ended January with 13k written in #Brains, my jaunty drivel project that has nothing to do with zombies. This month, that MS us up to 45k and counting!
    • Days I’ve written this month: 24/28
    • Days written since the inauguration: 34/38
    • Longest streak: 31 days

A note for March and April: I’ll be moving away from hard-and-fast metrics as I revise. My big goals: 1) Finish #Brains, 2) Revise Botanizer, 3) get a short story written, revised, and submitted.

November Writing Round-Up

Um, wait. It’s December 1?

  • Fifteenth rejection! Such is the business. Also got a rejection for a grant to which I applied, but it included some wonderful positive feedback.
  • Five submissions, three still active.
  • No new short stories. I promised myself I wouldn’t start anything new until after the novel revisions and I stuck with it.
  • NOVEL PROGRESS (everyone’s favorite panic attack) continues well. I made some more great breakthroughs. I’m currently 8 chapters from the end. That could mean a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, depending on how much time I put in.
  • NaNoWriMo went by and I didn’t write a word for it. This is good since I hadn’t finished novel revisions…
  • I went to my writing group’s annual retreat (just for a few hours, really) and it was wonderful as ever. Nothing  like your tribe to keep you sane and productive.
  • I have a tentative schedule for Arisia programming and that makes me very happy. More on that as it happens!
  • I haven’t been reading a lot this month, but I’ve been working, so here’s a STUFF I’VE BEEN DOING segment
    • Calling my Senators/Congressman about issues at the national level. There are, ya know, a few.
    • Calling my state legislators about issues at the state level, from taking a stand against some of the stuff happening at the federal level to bills I’m hoping get reintroduced in the new legislative session. I’ve gotten a really lovely personal call back regarding one issue, and it was great to know that I’d been heard.
    • Calling my city counselors and finding ways to engage with city politics. I live here and I care. Therefore I should be doing more than getting upset when the newspaper reports decisions I don’t like.
    • Donating. To the NoDAPL efforts and in support of the water protectors. To local organizations that matter to my heart. To movements that I believe in.
    • Reading and listening to things that make me mad. I had done this relatively often before, but I think it’s definitely important now. Not knowing another perspective exists excuses nothing.
    • Talking to like-minded friends. Just because there’s an echo doesn’t mean it’s wrong to converse and congregate and share resources.
    • Sending and receiving support from wonderful friends. You guys have helped keep me sane in this crazy time and sending you reassurances has made me stay focused. So thanks.
  • Upcoming Goals
    • Dec 31 Have novel out for critique NO LATER THAN THIS (still doable)
    • Dec 31 Keep at least 3/4 stories on submission at all times
    • Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016 (3 down, 2 to go!)

October Writing Round-Up

I don’t know if you like reading these posts, but it turns out that I like writing them, so you’re going to keep getting them. So what have I been up to in the last month?

  • Tenth rejection! *and the crowd goes wild* Yes, I submitted stories often enough in the last month that I got FIVE more rejections. Crazy stuff. Also, of the five rejections, three were personal. And of the personals, one (at least) is getting framed because it was so nice.
  • Six submissions, three still active! That includes one new story in the mix. And I’m working on finding reprint opportunities for “Taking Care of Business.” This means that I’m already one over my ultimate submission goal for the year!
  • One new short story. I missed the deadline for the Codex Halloween contest but then managed to write something after the Viable Paradise reunion. This means I have 3 works finished this year of the 5 that I’d like. Shooting for at least one more short that has been keeping me thinking and thinking, plus the novel (duh)
  • NOVEL PROGRESS (that’s why you’re here, right?) has been amazing. No, I’m not done. Still plugging away far slower than I’d like when it comes to words/day. BUT. I made some really great revisions that have really  made the Dreaded Middle pick up the pace. And my research reading has helped me along significantly. Can’t say enough about how important it is to be well read going into books like this one.
  • NaNoWriMo is probably off the table for me. I am being very strict with myself that I cannot start another sizeable project without finishing the novel.
  • I got two wonderful nods from my peers. Two short stories (both on submission currently) placed in friendly contests, one run by BSpec and one by Viable Paradise alums. I am honored and encouraged by the responses.
  • Viable Paradise’s reunion, Paradise Regained, was exactly that. I needed that weekend so much and will probably be forever thanking the staff for all the extra work they did to host us.
  • Stuff I Read This Month
    • “Writing Begins with Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong” by Daniel Jose Older. This has been keeping me sane this month. I hope it can do the same for you.
    • About Writing by Samuel R. Delany. Still working through this one and I’ll probably start re-reading it when I hit the last page. He bills it as a book for writers who already know what they’re doing, and I don’t feel pandered to. Nor do I feel like I’m being taught literary lessons at the expense of my love for genre. Nor am I learning lessons from genre at the expense of my love for literature. To Delany, talented writing is always that, no matter what you’re writing about. Huge thanks to the Writing the Other instructors for putting this on my radar.
    • Walking the Clouds edited by Grace L. Dillon. I haven’t finished this, but everything I’ve read has been eye opening and great food for thought. I think of all of the books I’ve used for research, this has helped me the most (more on this when I share some experiences about the writing process). I’d hazard a very broad generalization to say that anyone writing SFF should read this anthology, because I think it can only help widen your perspective and because you can never go wrong when you’re reading good work.
  • Upcoming Goals
    • Nov ?? Finish novel revisions (I’m okay now with this taking the time it needs)
    • Nov 30 Finish NaNoWriMo OR a novella (MAYBE. But only after novel revisions!)
    • Dec 31 Have novel out for critique NO LATER THAN THIS (hopefully much earlier)
    • Dec 31 Keep at least 3/4 stories on submission at all times
    • Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016 (3 down, 2 to go!)

September Writing Round-up

It’s been quite a month! I’m not even sure where it went, but I can say that I got some good work done.

  • Fifth rejection! If rejected short stories tell you anything good about a writer, they are, at the very least, proof that the writer is submitting. Can’t publish if you don’t submit; can’t submit without facing rejection. So I got my fifth-ever rejection from a short story market today. Time to throw a rejection party!
  • Three submissions. No, not three new stories, but three opportunities taken. I got my SFish piece out the door, put “Taking Care of Business” out for a potential reprint opportunity, and sent the third story to a new market. I might be able to log 10 submissions this year, depending on the turn-around on the existing submissions and how many more shorts are in my immediate future. It’s not exactly a square in Career Bingo, but it’s close.
  • One new short story in progress. A Halloween-y story for a friendly contest on Codex. Trying out second-world fantasy in short form. The big question: can I get it done by next weekend and keep it under the required 5k? We’ll see.
  • NOVEL PROGRESS. Okay, seriously. It’s been slow, but there. I pushed through a few chapters, struggled, pushed through, struggled. And then I needed to get the SFish piece out the door and had some freelance stuff come up. You know, life. So here’s the goal: I will finish the novel revision by Oct 31. There, I said it. Expect a Halloween update from me with good news on that front.
  • I also had the exciting opportunity to put my name in as a potential panelist to two local SFF conventions, Arisia and Boskone. I filled out my participant surveys for both and will hear back about whether they think I’m a good fit for this year’s panel selection or not. I’m thrilled to give this a go. In addition, I suggested a workshop for GrubStreet’s Muse and the Marketplace conference in May. So next year there might be a great deal of public speaking to do. And if you know me, you know this is a good thing.
  • Some Stuff I Read this Month (last month I did a “Stuff I Read on the Internet” section, but this month was more about fiction online and offline, so…)
    • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. My review on Goodreads says it all: SO. RUSTING. GOOD.
    • Saga, Vol. 1. Everyone said I needed to read this and everyone was right. Can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!
    • “A Ladies’ Guide to Collecting Mermaid Love Songs” (Daily Science Fiction) by Aimee Picci, one of my very talented Viable Paradise XVIII classmates.
    • There was more but these things floated to the surface for me when drafting this
  • Upcoming Goals
    • Oct 8 Finish/submit story for Codex Halloween contest
    • Oct 12-14 Attend Paradise Regained (VP reunion!)
    • Oct 31 Finish novel revisions
    • Nov 30 Finish NaNoWriMo OR a novella
    • Dec 31 Submit 10 times in 2016
    • Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016