So, one of my reasons for starting a blog was to talk about my writing. I’ve gained many new subscribers, mostly from my mini-movie reviews, it seems (as that is where I usually get one or two new blog readers per post according to the stats on Word Press). Yes, I do other things besides movie reviews, such as going through my bookcase and doing some book reviews, video game reviews and analysis of video game culture, and some films, this is largely because of my narrowing of focus for my school work.
I have a Master’s Degree in English: Rhetoric and Writing. While I’ll go more into detail about that in a later blog post (in comparison to what I’m doing now in my PhD work), I have two abiding loves: 1) reading and writing and 2) science fiction and fantasy (yeah, I know this is technically 4 items–hey, I’m an English major and not a Math major for a reason–but you get the idea. To me reading and writing are two sides of the same coin and the same goes for science fiction and fantasy).
This blog is an outgrowth of the first two and tend to cover topics of the second two. Of course, I do deviate from these quite often. Video games are a major part of my life (although it is what is read the least on the blog based on the stats), but I still cover them and trust that readers will either ignore the posts as necessary or skim some of the more Fantasy/Science Fiction orientated games when I do them. I’m also very interested in technology (I got this from my late uncle who was an audiophile and while I’m not an audiophile per se, I am an amateur videophile–who is a student on a budget and so must maximize my technology “budget”–unlike those who are able to spend massive amounts of time and money buying the highest tech available). I have neither the time nor the money to invest in the latest/greatest technology).
So, to cut this very long preamble short, creative writing is a key reason why I wanted to write this blog and discuss some of the things that I loved about creative writing. So this blog post is going to be about some of the writing “milestones” for 2020.
State of Writing 2020 According to Duotrope
So, I used to use a “pen & paper system” to track my submissions (reminder: one of these days, please remind me to discuss one of the worst interactions that I had with a library patron when I had the temerity to suggest a paper tracking system for keeping track of library books that had been checked out since our system–at the time–couldn’t handle that option–regardless of the fact that both my late uncle and myself kept a paper system for just that reason). Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled post: now I use Duotrope to track submissions.
For 2019, I managed four total submissions for the year. That’s right: 4. Now at the beginning of 2020, I really wanted to do better. Looking at Duotrope, I didn’t manage any submissions in the first two months of the year. I attribute this to the fact that I had two conferences to go to and so I focused on academic writing for those two months. However, because of the pandemic, which happened (for me) in the 2nd week of March, I started to revise and submit creative projects as I switched to “online teaching” for the remainder of the semester. My first submission of 2020 was in March and I managed sixteen (16) submissions for the year. That’s a massive improvement for the previous year. Anything above 10 submissions is probably good for me as I’m a slow writer, so 16 submissions is very good.
Not so good, however, was the Acceptance to Rejection ratio which stands at an abysmal 0 to 16. That’s right, I whiffed 16 times on ALL 16 markets. However, according to Thomas Edison, that’s not failing: it’s finding 16 places that didn’t want to publish those stories. Again, according to Edison, it’s about finding the one that does want the story, and so my quest continues into 2021. Right now, I seem to average 1-2 acceptances every two years or so, (last one was 1 in 2019), so this year will hopefully be my year should the average hold.
I wrote two (2) new stories in 2020: The Independent and Unhallowed (both of which are currently still under consideration at their respective markets). The Independent was a science fiction story about a space ship (my longtime story idea that I finally finished about “space truckers.”) Unhallowed was a “weird west” fantasy story with gunslingers and monsters and was written to explore the theme of “vengeance” vs. “justice.” Starlight, Starbright takes a similar theme, but it was a revision of an older story that dealt with the theme of injustice; I plan on a “revision pass” before submitting it again. I also brought HawkeMoon back out of “retirement” for a “Year’s Best” anthology for stories published in the previous year (2019), but that one fell apart as I just marked that as Lost/Never Responded (a bunch of stories were selected in July/August for the anthology according to Duotrope, but I never heard back from the anthology as to the fate of my submission so I withdrew it formally a few days ago).
State of Writing in 2021
So, this is where I’m going to be a little vague as I’m wanting to stick to my/get back to my love of doing things rather than talking about doing things.
As mentioned, I intend to send out Starlight, Starbright again, but I’m going to do a pass over it and revise it. I used to do that for ALL my stories, integrating any relevant feedback that I received from editors and generally, going through making changes to length, word choice, cutting/adding as necessary, all to try to make the story the best that it could be. I intend to do that this year for all 3 stories that I have until they sell, so I assume that my submissions will probably go down to about 10-12 this year (depending on how long it takes markets to respond–that’s really the hold-up. Most revision passes only take about a week or two to do).
I am working on other projects–some longer than I’ve attempted before, but I have no idea how long it will take me to complete them as I have school and school related responsibilities in addition to the primary project on my plate for this year: my dissertation. Dissertation comes first and any creative writing that I’m able to do comes second.
In Closing: State of Writing
So, to close, I feel the state of my writing is overall a middling grade. I would give it a 6 out of 10. I greatly improved on the number of submissions. I’m sitting at 199 total submissions tracked on Duotrope. This, in addition to the over 100 submissions tracked via my old “pen and paper” system gives me over 300 total submissions of stories. I have approximately 9 fiction publications (this doesn’t include my non-fiction article or my comic book story that was illustrated in 3 parts) nor any other non-fictional “published” writing that I’ve done.
I also was able to get two stories written. I usually struggle to get one story a year written, so to have two done was pretty impressive. While I’m proud of both The Independent and Unhallowed, I feel that Unhallowed really did a good job of characterization, world-building, setting, backstory, and theme integration, so I feel a bit disappointed that the story has not sold yet–I feel that it is my most mature and complex story to date.
I think the lack of Acceptances this year is the real failing for the year. I think I came close a couple of times, but in the end, no one wanted to buy any of my stories this past year and so, even though I put a lot more effort and energy into building my writing career, it was ultimately not fruitful and did not payoff. While that is largely out of my hands (only the quality of the writing and taking the chance to actually submit are variables that I can control), I did at least try, but the lack of Acceptances really kept this past year from being any higher than a 6 in terms of the state of my writing in my eyes.
Here’s hoping 2021 is an 8 or above!
Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:
- Purchase HawkeMoon on Amazon.com (Paperback) or eBook
- Purchase Dragonhawk on Amazon.com (Paperback) or Kindle
- Purchase WarLight on Amazon.com (Paperback) or Kindle
- Purchase Ship of Shadows on Amazon.com (Paperback) or Kindle
- Purchase Faerie Knight on Amazon.com (Paperback) or Kindle
Currently Working On (January 2021):
- Unhallowed (Weird Western Story)
Out to Market
- Starlight, Starbright (Science Fiction Story)
Out to Market
- The Independent (Science Fiction Story)
Out to Market
- Project Seas (Fantasy Story)
Planning: Completed, Rough Draft: Completed, First Draft: In Progress