January Writing Round-Up

New year, new round-up format!

WHAT WORKED
I spent so much time reading this month! Ten books. TEN. That’s a full third of my goal this year! I’m going to feel so well-read by the time I get to my Boskone panels. This is totally all due to manuscript avoidance, but HEY. I. Read. Good. Books. That’s a win all on its own.

I’ve been enjoying the annual Weekend Warrior contest on Codex. One week of the 5-flashes-in-5-weeks contest. I think two of the ones I’ve written this year are good enough to go somewhere. The others will be great trunked seeds for something later on. Who knows what this (final) weekend will bring!

I wrote a story mid-week and it flew from my fingers fully formed. It was great and I can’t wait to get comments back so I can shine it up pretty and submit it to the market I wrote it for.
WHERE I STRUGGLED
Life. Is life ever not a struggle? I’ve been dealing with existential dread on every level: politics, novel querying, novel drafting, short story submissions, and on and on and on. I’ve got a couple of coping mechanisms that work just enough, but I need to not play manuscript avoidance forever. Time to get the butt in the chair.

Words on the page. I really wanted about double my goal for this month, but I’ll take what I got. It was my most productive month since last May when I was drafting my novella, so frustrated or not, it was an objectively good month. Now I just need to tell my head that.
BY THE NUMBERS

  • Words written: 16,167/200,000 (on track!!!)
  • New works (goal: 12 new shorter works submitted in 2018):
    • Started: 6
    • Drafted: 5
    • Revised: 0
    • Submitted: 0
  • Books read: 10/30 (see above)

 

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2017 in Review; 2018 in Preview

If my writing life were corporate America, someone from HR would be sitting down with me and my boss and reviewing my metrics with a tense smile and platitudes about getting back on track.

Thank God my writing life isn’t corporate America.

Because honestly, does it really matter that I was about 36,000 words shy of the random number I thought I could hit? Am I less of a writer because I was two new works shy of what I wanted to write this year?

No.

Not one bit.

I’m not saying that goals don’t matter. I’m not saying that pushing myself doesn’t matter or that I have no room for improvement (excuse me while I vomit at that phrase) or that I’m going to write-off objective metrics for 2018.

But I am saying the sum of what I’ve one this year can’t be characterize by what I didn’t do. That 36k, those two short stories: writing crap just to hit them wouldn’t have done me any good. Not spending time with my loved ones during two painful family illnesses and subsequent funerals wouldn’t have made me a better writer. Letting my kid watch another 36 hours of TV instead of reading or playing together wouldn’t have been worth it just for a “HOORAY LOOK WHAT I DID” blog post and ephemeral back-pats.

So how would I characterize my successes this year? Let’s see.

I wrote when I was furious, grief-striken, exhausted, depressed, sick, migraine-ridden, afraid, and sad. And I did it because I had work to do, a story to tell, something of myself to give.

I wrote when I didn’t want to write, when I only wanted the reassurance of having written, when I didn’t know why I was writing. And I did it because some days you know you need to sit your butt in your chair and do the work even when it feels like work.

And sometimes I didn’t write. Because I sat down and there were no words to give. Because I was consumed by research. Because I didn’t want to. Because I had obligations away from my computer. Because I was lost or exhausted. And most of my zero-days were worth it in the end, because they gave me space, context, and fuel (be it a better idea or the angry energy to just pound out words).

I wrote happy things, sad things, scared things, scary things. I put parts of myself on the page that I wouldn’t talk about outside fiction. I tried new forms and pushed my craft with new elements of all sorts. I entered friendly contests. I sought out new readers and new sources of critique. I submitted to markets big and small. I got rejected everywhere, sometimes with the most wonderful and inspiring comments about my work to see me off. I cried about a rejection this year–THAT was new. And I survived it.

I think that’s one of the most important things any of us can say about this last year: that we survived.

But I did more than that, didn’t I? I worked. I wrote. I wrote more than I’ve ever written in one year. I wrote better than I’ve ever written. I took the risks I set out to take and then some. And that’s what makes a writer.

Here’s what I want my 2018 in words to look like. Sure: I want to wrap the year with at least one new novel drafted, revised, and out in the world. I want new stories in my stable. I want a whole host of other’s books in my have-been-read pile. But really, I want to wrap the year confident that I didn’t dither away my precious writing hours. I want to wrap the year confident that I’ve grown. And I know that’s doable.

So, for whatever it’s worth, here’s the breakdown by numbers and bullets. Do with it what you will. Just promise that you’ll think the same way about what you’ve accomplished this year. Because you’re worth way more than your numbers, too.

My Year in Words
PART 1: Personal Accomplishments

  • Words written: 164,495
  • New works completed:
    • 1 novel drafted
    • 1 novella (drafted, revised, submitted)
    • 6 short stories (drafted, revised submitted)
  • Other works:
    • 1 novel critiqued, revised, and queried
    • 6 additional short stories started
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 76 (8 outstanding)
  • Books Read: 30 (ok, I’m finishing one today; hold me to it)


PART 2: Extrinsic Accomplishments

  • Sales and publications: 2 (Shimmer and Cast of Wonders)
  • Non-paying reprint: 1 (inclusion in Event Horizon 2017, the anthology for Campbell Award-eligible writers)
  • Rejections: 64 total; 45 forms, 19 personal & higher-tier
  • PLUS
    • Moderated and participated on two panels at conventions
    • First reading!
    • First review of my work
    • First story podcasted
    • 50th lifetime rejection (current tally: 98)
    • First-place in my division of a Codex Contest (for the novella; still blown away  by this btw)

 

2018 in Preview
Because I like having metrics, even when I don’t/can’t meet them

  • Words written: 200,000
  • New works to complete: 12
  • Books read: 30

November Writing Round-Up, plus Award Eligibility

Happy past and impending holidays! This year has been….Alright it’s only December 1, so I don’t have to write a year-end post yet, right? Good. This won’t be that.

This past month has been a challenge. I struggled with feels after rejections. I fought through more rounds of preschool grunge. I got just enough good news and found time with friends to keep me sane. I may not be on-track to sweep my goals for the year, but HOLY HECK I’ve accomplished a lot.

Two of the things I’ve accomplished include two lovely stories out in the real world. If you’re looking for works to nominate for any of the various writing awards, I’d be honored–of course–to have your consideration. “The Moon, the Sun, and the Truth” ran in Shimmer‘s July/August Issue 38. “Phalium arium ssp anams” aired as Cast of Wonders‘s episode 256, also in July. This is also my second year of eligibility for the Campbell Award.

With no further ado, here’s how this month stacked up for words.

  • Words Written: 10,276  (YTD: 153,199 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+)
  • Works Complete: 0 (YTD: 8 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 3 (YTD: 79)
  • Books Read: 2 (YTD: 26| 2017 Goal: 30)
  • PLUS
    • Short Story Rejections: 2 (1 personal).
    • Two of my stories are officially in editors’ hold piles. Yay!
    • Querying agents is hard. There will eventually be a whole post about this.
    • I finished Part 1 of my new novel. I like it so far (that’s not always a given).
    • I wrote 15 reviews for Publishers Weekly this year and I’m really proud of them.
    • I’m on programming for both Arisia and Boskone! More on that soon!

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

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!

July Writing Round-Up

Where did this month go?! I spend one weekend away and it all disappears out from underneath me.

I feel like I spent all month working on two chapters because, really, that’s what happened. But then I look a everything else I accomplished (*cough* skip to days written *cough*) and I feel a bit better.

  • Words Written: 4,417  (YTD: 112,227 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+)
  • Works Complete: 1 (YTD: 7 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 10 (YTD: 52)
  • Books Read: 1 (YTD: 13 | 2017 Goal: 30)
  • PLUS
    • Two of my stories published this month: one in Shimmer and one on Cast of Wonders.
    • I have not submitted my new thing. I think it’s complete, but we’ll see; I want to sit on it some more. I started two other short stories but they’re definitely not ready to be submitted!
    • 9 rejections this month, all forms.
    • I applied for two grants!
    • Botanizer is more than half-revised. I’m working through the last 50k (or so). I think I’m going to get to the end of this and not know what to do with myself.
    • So that weekend away: I spent it running base camp for an amazing fundraising hike that I’ve participated in for 9 years now. You can read a bit more here.
    • Days I’ve written/revised this month: 27/31 (WOOT! I did my job this month and had my butt in my chair!)
    • Days written since the inauguration: 123/191
    • Longest streak: 31 days (SO CLOSE)

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!