My Janus Impression: Looking Forward and Back

How appropriate that I have a crick in my neck!

2010 is the year I got serious about writing: No more fiddling around writing (just) for my friends, no more getting one rejection and sulking for months. All together, I figure I wrote about 50,000 words of fiction this year. I didn’t sell a damn thing, but I wrote or finished four short stories and racked up over 20 submissions, some of them still outstanding. I got my first personal rejections from professional-paying markets.

I got into, and attended, Viable Paradise XIV. This was a major turning point for me. I started to enumerate the ways, but I don’t think I’ll know all the ways it helped me and my writing for some years to come. But there is one big one: I finally felt like a real, honest-to-god writer after that. I feel like I’ve been invited to the big kids table, and there are some very entertaining folks there!

I tried NaNoWriMo again, and in the process plotted out a YA novel that I’d like to write one day. But I also discovered that I’m just not comfortable working that way. To some extent, I still have my editor’s cap on while I’m writing, a habit I’d like to shed or diminish. But to some extent, I just write better when I can pace myself: like Mr. Earbrass, I belong to the straying rather than sedentary type of author. (Though sadly, I frequently only stray as far as a browser window rather than go do something else entirely…)

On to the future. One of my goals for this past year had been to get something published. This was something of a foolish goal — it’s not something that I can control. I can only do what I did, which is to write stories as good as I could, seek and incorporate feedback, and put them out on the market.

So, my goals for this year are to do more of what I did last year. I started two novels: I’m going to finish one of them. I’m going to continue shopping around the five short stories I have on the market, and I’m going to put five more on the market. I’m still deciding what would constitute a good submissions goal: to some extent, that’s also outside my control. (Some markets are slower than others, and hopefully editors will start hanging onto my stories longer than they have been) So instead I’ll try to stick to the rule that a rejected story isn’t allowed to stay the night. Once I’ve decided it’s sellable, every time it comes back it goes right back into an envelope or electronic submissions queue.

I also want to push myself more as a writer: write shorter pieces, stories that make me a little uncomfortable, characters whose heads I have a hard time getting into. I want to spend more time thinking about writing, and putting interesting things on this blog. I need to learn concision. I need to learn discipline. I need to learn to better edit my own work. I need to learn what questions to ask critiquers to best make use of their time and mine. I probably also need to lose weight.

Happy New Year, everyone!

6 thoughts on “My Janus Impression: Looking Forward and Back

  1. I really like your point in the final paragraph about pushing ourselves to write stories and characters that challenge us. While they may not work out at first (or ever), that really is a good way to develop and improve.

    1. Yeah, that’s part of what makes it hard to get myself to write those stories and characters. When it’s harder for me to make it work, it’s harder to motivate myself to try.

  2. Happy new year! That’s a good point about not second guessing yourself once you’ve decided a story is sellable. I struggle with that a lot. I do retire stories from time to time, but I usually end up putting them back in the queue when I’m feeling more confident.

    1. I’ve gotten a *little* better at this. I used to rewrite a story every time I got it back. One the one hand, every time I did that, the result was a better story. On the other hand, I ALWAYS then kicked myself for not doing that before sending it to the market that just rejected it.

      I’ve retired a couple stories that I’ve written in the last two years. I’ll have to reread them at some point to decide whether to put them back into action.

      1. I just spent most of the morning reworking two stories, both a lot better, but I’m running thin on markets to send them to. 😦 I supposed there’s always something to learn though. Ah, well!

        1. When I do that, I console myself that when I’m a famous in-demand writer, I’ll be able to use them to pad out a “Collected Short Stories” volume 😉

          Realistically, I strongly suspect that after a year and a substantial rewrite, some of the markets that have seen these stories wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

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