Review of 2018 and Goals for 2019

Review of 2018

Newly written: 3 short stories, 2 flash fiction, and 1 novel (1st draft)

29 submissions (0 acceptances; 32 rejections (4 carried over from 2017); 1 pending)

Goals from 2018:

  • 3 new short stories
  • 30 submissions
  • 1 pro sale (WOTF doesn’t count)
  • Complete a novel no matter how badly it turns out. (10 pages a week!)
  • Complete Brandon Sanderson’s Creative Writing Youtube course
  • Read “Dune”

Reflections/Notes on 2018

  • This year has been a wake up call. Namely, one sale doesn’t make me a sought-after writer, and numerous rejections don’t make me a poor writer. This year has begun to show me how subjective the selection process is. Editors receive hundreds of great stories every month–stories they know their readers will enjoy–but they have only a few slots, maybe a dozen, so they’re going to choose the stories that they connected with personally. That means getting selected is a lot like the lottery. My stories need to have the most originality, the best pacing, the fullest characters, the most depth I can give them or I won’t even have a chance. That said, I need to spend more time cultivating my worlds and developing my characters–more time investigating nonfiction and reading other people’s thoughts–so that my worlds and characters are more diverse and fully realized.
  • Keeping tabs on the progress of my writer friends depresses me. Terrible, right? It’s been a recent realization for me that I feel like I’ve failed when other people succeed. Then, to protect myself from the pain, I tell myself “of course” I didn’t succeed; I’m never that good; I’m never the best at anything. I realize now that I’ve done this my whole life–high school, college, even now as a parent. I self-sabotage so I don’t feel the whole weight of disappointment when I fail, which of course ensures I do fail. Yet, it’s reading about other people’s successes that triggers this mentality. I haven’t yet figured out how to overcome the self-sabotage so for now, I am distancing myself from keeping tabs too closely on my writing peers.
  • I am too much of a perfectionist. It’s related to what I described above, but I tend to write first drafts as if they’re final drafts. I obsess over word choice and prose. I get stuck on sections I haven’t figured out yet. Bland conversations, flat characters, and lame world-building leaves me frustrated and blocked. So, I’ve been working with a friend to fight through first drafts. Back at the WOTF workshop, I asked Tim Powers what he does since he struggles the same way. He replied that he writes with the mentality of everything going down on the page at that moment won’t be kept. He tells himself he’s just messing around. Nothing’s permanent. Who cares if it isn’t perfect, it’s going to change anyway. And that’s exactly right. I finally pushed through to the end of a very terrible 1st draft. It’s my first 1st draft of a novel and it’s full of plot holes, flat characters, bland conversations… Heck, some of the chapters are mere summaries. But, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and that’s all a 1st draft really needs.

Goals for 2018

  • 2 new short stories
  • 20 submissions
  • 1 pro sale
  • Submit 1st draft to alpha readers
  • Complete 2nd draft revisions

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