My Writing Year 2013

I’m stealing the title and idea for this post from my friend Sarah Pinsker, who had an incredible writing year in 2013. I hope this was just one point on a long upward trajectory for her.

My year wasn’t as strong as hers. But looking at the numbers, it wasn’t the disaster I imagined. Most of my writing occurs on the bus, in the mornings, four days a week. Sometimes I write in the afternoons or on weekends, but I tend to save weekends for edits and rewrites, which often require me to spread out more than I can on the bus.

Although I kept submitting some of my non-genre fiction in the first part of the year, I moved decisively to write what I want to read: speculative fiction of all kinds. Of the five full-length stories I wrote start-to-finish this year, 2 were near-future SF, one was farther-future hard SF, one was contemporary fantasy, and one was a second-world fantasy. Two of the three flash fiction pieces were superhero stories of a sort; the third, dark fantasy. Of stories I’m still working on, two are near-future SF and one is far-future space opera set in the same world as my maybe-a-novel-in-progress.

Unfortunately, none of the eight complete pieces I’ve got has sold yet. In part, this may be because I’ve continued to tweak the pieces and I’m never entirely happy with anything. In part, it might have to do with the wide range of what I’m working on, and trying to find my voice. And in large part, it comes from lacking the confidence to submit repeatedly and without compunction.

I’m doing better at getting a pipeline going, with different works in different stages of production. My 2014 goal is the same as my 2013 goal was: to break into genre writing. But with my second child due at the end of June, at least the third quarter’s likely to be a bust.

By the numbers:

  • Submissions outstanding: 4 (1 spec-fic)
  • Total submissions 2013: 55
  • Acceptances: 3 (1 from 2012 submission)
  • Publications: Fourteen Hills, Spartan, Matchbook
  • genre magazines: 0
  • Pro-rates: 0
  • print magazines: 1
  • e-zines: 2

1 acceptance on 13th submission of the story; 2 on 1st submission

Stories completed in 2013:

  • 5 full-length (avg 4200 words)
  • 3 flash (average 767 words)

Works in progress:

  • 3 promising shorts (10,000 words)
  • 1 flash (300 words)
  • 1 long story (potential novel) (37,000 words)

False starts / snippets: 6+

Also, one reading at Hugo House.

Which means, excluding snippets, false starts, and numerous words cut in rewrites and edits, I’ve managed to write 70,000+ words this year. The bad news is that the novel wants to be three or four different books, so unless a miracle happens many or all of those words are headed out. I hope to focus more on short stories next year, unless the novel grabs me again. If not, I’ll chalk it up as background for the several other stories I’ve got set in the same universe—one done, one nearly done, and one barely started.

I also did a better job plugging myself into the local SF community this year. I attended Norwescon and Cascade Writers, took a class at Hugo House with Nancy Kress, and attended the initial Seattle Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers (SF2W) meeting/party put together by Django Wexler. Heck, I attended lunch today at Crossroads Mall with Ken Scholes, where I ran into John Pitts, who led my critique group at Cascade.

I’m still running into challenges figuring out how to balance writing and community with my nontrivial familial and professional obligations—a problem that gets worse next year, for all the fun and personal satisfaction I’m looking forward to, but somehow I’ll find a way. I hope. (If not, I’ve got a new top goal for 2015.)