Time to laugh…
Final Drafts Finished:
1. The Foraging (flash)
2. The Engine of Desire (short story)
3. Pureland (short story)
4. Ghost Girl (non-fiction essay)
5. Vermeer Blue (micro-story)
6. Blackberry Sweet (novella, complete rewrite from flash story)
1. Disambiguation (rewrite of poem)
2. Silver Night Train (rewrite of poem)
3. The God of Suburbia (rewrite of poem)
4. Crepusculum (flash)
5. Queen (novelette)
6. Horses (novelette)
7. Shang Hai (novelette)
8. Her Deepness (novelette, completely rewritten from short story)
Obviously, this year was an even bigger disaster than last year – even though I wrote twice as many words, about two-thirds of all of my projects started this year were abandoned or set aside, including a novella that started shambling its way into novel territory when it hit the 40,000 mark. Why couldn’t I finish most of what I started? Real world problems of sinking finances and execrable living conditions aside, I think it’s a combination of poor work habits and some psychological blocks I seem to experience as I get into the middle part of any project. I won’t go into detail here about those blocks (I think they deserve a separate post), but I will say that I need to seriously address those issues and the work habits, if I ever want to become a writer (which I am NOT). Next year will need to be dedicated to Getting Shit Done – otherwise, there’s no reason for me to do this at all. Writers, after all, write complete stories, not just first paragraphs.
As I’ve said before, I don’t keep track of rejections as a number to memorize and repeat, I only keep note of critical advice given to me by editors, and requests to see more material in the future. I racked up the submissions and consequently rejections, most by markets that sent out form responses with no invitation to submit again. On the one hand, it was rather discouraging, to say the least. On the other hand, this was the first year I had items continually in submission – there was never a week in the entire year where I didn’t have something sent out.
1. “The Foraging”, to the charity anthology Jack Haringa Must Die!
2. “The Engine of Desire, to the anthology Unspeakable Horror: Writings from the Closet
3. “The Unattainable”, reprint to Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 8
4. “Take Your Daughters to Work”, reprint to Apex Magazine
5. “Horses”, to Postscripts Magazine (which will become a quarterly anthology)
6. “Vermeer Blue” to Thaumatrope
1. “Brimstone Orange” (as a reprint to PseudoPod)
2. “The Unattainable” (to Cowboy Lover: Erotic Stories of the Wild West)
3. “The Four Hundred Thousand” (to Subterranean Online, Fall 2007)
4. “Horses” (to Nation of Ash) – this story was withdrawn because anthology lost its publisher, and it became painfully obvious that this was never going to happen (there’s a lot of backstory here, but I’m not going to make it public)
I had two more sales this year than last, but in the end, it did nothing to advance my writing career – half of the sales were to markets that most people haven’t heard of, or markets that existed only as single entities (i.e. one-time anthologies), and none of my stories were reviewed. Until I become published in well-known science fiction/fantasy markets (horror and erotica markets, I have found, simply don’t count), the number of sales I have won’t make any difference whatsoever.
1. “The Foraging” (in Jack Haringa Must Die!)
2. “Teslated Salishan Evergreen” (in A Field Guide to Surreal Botany)
3. “Take Your Daughters to Work” (reprint, online at Apex Magazine)
4. “The Engine of Desire (in Unspeakable Horror: Writings from the Closet)
1. “Take Your Daughter to Work” (in Subterranean Magazine #6)
2. “Jetsam” (in Sybil’s Garage #4)
3. “The Unattainable” (Cowboy Lover: Erotic Stories of the Wild West)
4. “Brimstone Orange” (reprint, podcast on PseudoPod)
5. “The Four Hundred Thousand” (in Subterranean Online, Fall 2007)
I can’t control this aspect of the business in any way whatsoever, so there’s no real goal here. Things get moved in and out of publishing schedules all the time (and sometimes markets fold or disappear), so I can’t say I want “X” things published next year. I know for certain that at least two stories will be published next year – perhaps there’ll be more, but I can’t be sure. I just have to make sure I’m continually writing and submitting stories in the hope that I’ll continue to be published.
This is going to be a section where I dump any and all achievements that I feel will contribute to my becoming a professional writer, as opposed to a wannabe. Please note that this is a list that applies only to me, only to my career, and to no other writer. Everyone has their own list of what they want to achieve with/through writing, so everyone else’s mileage will vary. My list includes not just getting an agent and a novel published, but other things both large and small – some more immediate goals include: getting into SFWA, having my fiction reviewed (by a legitimate source like The Fix or in a genre market), participating on a panel at a convention, getting into a writing group. Larger, more “glamorous” goals like award nominations or being asked to attend/teach at professional workshops are not on my list. I’ve come to accept the fact that my writing doesn’t really excite or enthuse readers and other writers in general, so certain goals will always be unattainable. But that’s fine – the point of having these goals is so that I don’t spend year after year always treading water, just working on stories and dreaming about things, rather than actively achieving them.
Ha. On that note, 2008 was definitely a year of treading water. I achieved almost nothing that I could consider a solid advancement toward becoming a professional writer. I still don’t have enough eligible sales for SFWA active membership; I was denied entrance to three RL and two online writing groups (all five groups gave the same reason, amusingly enough); my requests to speak on panels at two conferences were refused (due to lack of publishing credits and the fact that, in both cases, the organizers had never heard of me); and I received no reviews of any of my published stories, as well as no awards or nominations of any kind. So, yes, this has been a very disappointing year, but only in terms of morale – in the long run, it doesn’t affect my writing. In fact, I think this year has made it painfully clear how I need to change things – things that are within my power to change – that I think are holding me back from achieving a number of my goals. I’ll post more about this separately, probably some time next week.
Not all is humiliating doom and gloom, though. I did get an Honorable Mention by Ellen Datlow in Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 for “Take Your Daughters to Work” – that’s something. I participated in two small readings – a Halloween-themed event at a small bar in NYC, and the “Dangerous Flora” reading at KGB for A Field Guide to Surreal Botany. And I participated in the first of what will hopefully become a yearly private writing workshop, with a number of people whom I hold in very high esteem, not just as writers but as friends.
Raymond Chandler’s Law:
It takes writing a million words of shit before you acquire enough skills to become a professional writer – or so the saying goes. Supposedly attributed to Raymond Chandler – I’ve never been able to find the exact quote or positive proof that he said it. But I like it. I’ve come to interpret it as this
: you should expect to write about a million words before you really find your voice, your “groove”, and begin to write publishable fiction on a regular basis. I think for me this is an accurate assessment.
In 2007 I wrote about 88,000 words, including the abandoned draft of a novel (an average of about 241 words a day, ha ha!), and about 28,000 words (78 words a day average – ::facepalm::) the year before – laughably miniscule amounts, considering what I’m capable of doing. In 2008, I wrote almost the same amount: 88,176 words. D’OH! This year, I’d like to double that amount- around 180,000 words, or about 500 words a day. That’s a large enough amount to write my novel and finish several of the novellas and novelettes I have in inventory. I just need to sit my ass in my chair, turn off the fucking TV, and write.
To date, I’ve written about 721,000 words, of which 65,424 – 9.07% of all I’ve written – have been sold and published. I’d like to see that percentage creep up to over 10% next year. We’ll see.