In the spirit of finding…new places for the content I would have threaded on Twitter, I want this to feel informal.
Come on the journey out of curiosity, or push up those glasses and nerd out about writing with me. Let’s start with the cold hard facts, and then wade into the squishy stuff.
This year, I aimed for 100 subs again. This includes short fiction for publication, mentorships, juried conferences, grants, and any other writing related opportunities. I always appreciated reading these breakdowns when I was starting to write seriously, so I try to be transparent.
Let’s start with the stats. I didn’t get to 100, but I’m pleased with my results.
It’s yeahyeahyeahweknow to mention that submitting is a lot of work and splitting your mind into pieces trying to keep track of things; anyone who subs knows this intimately. This year feels really significant to me. I am getting into a great rhythm.
Do note that I sent 54 things out, which is objectively quite a lot. 6 yes’s is a best case scenario rates of returns. Really reiterates that to get published, you have to submit a lot.
My success is partially because I am better at submitting now. I can suss out folks’ editorial sensibilities, and how those line up with what pieces I have on deck.
Everyone has their own journey of navigating submissions, and how they weigh different factors such as money, prestige, opportunity. For me, cachet is nice, but I don’t place it at the top of my list.
My strategy is to write whatever I want, and then figure out where it might fit and reach some readers who would resonate. I know some folks who are great at writing to specific markets. Unfortunately there’s no universe where that would be sustainable for me. It would legit make me quit writing.
Maybe that’s a bit dramatic…maybe it’s not ~ ~ ~
I received lots of very kind rejections and great feedback this year—ideas for making something I was attempting more impactful, or clarifying a beat. I also received feedback I totally ignored. This was an important progression for me. It feels like a threshold of confidence: where you feel enough conviction to understand what’s a change that would make your piece stronger and clearer—vs. what’s simply a difference of vision.
I write from a marginalized perspective and that was obvious in a few rejections. Some questioned choices I considered integral to a piece—a character’s perceived passivity, for instance. This story would be better if this character fought back instead of running away. I still feel pretty guilty about ignoring comments like these, since I appreciate that the editor took time to reply to me! But the agony is less and less these days.
It also makes me appreciate the fine art of form rejections (higher tier if you can spare one, lol). Because sometimes it really just is a difference in vision, or a piece just isn’t quite a fit.
The other thing that makes submitting easier, and a convenient segue: I’m…probably just better at writing.
…It’s because I’ve been working very hard! I know in my heart when something is getting good, when it’s saying what I want it to say (even if I don’t usually know what I’m really saying when I start a piece). This isn’t just a craft issue, though I can see that my pacing has improved, among other things. I am also more comfortable in my obsessions, my vulnerabilities. I understand what I’m trying to do when I write, that I have to have some fun if it’s going to be readable.
Having fun’s not always the right phrase, willfully obsessed might be better.
I’ve never been terribly strict with myself and writing (besides the crushing demands for ✨ universal moral perfection right out the gate ✨ that’s a can of worms I’m not ready to pop the top of quite yet). But I know how to cajole myself into working on things I’m hesitant to work on, how to put myself into a state to properly look something in the eye. With vexing sections, I’m often thinking, “how can I make this something I can’t help but work on?” Once I figure that out, everything crystallizes.
Speaking of vexing sections, I’m in the late stages of working on my new novel. There’s one of these aforementioned vexing sections remaining on my draft, and then I’ll feel okay about sending it to my most trusted readers for feedback. This book scares me lol, parts of it are so raw, but I’m finding an all-enveloping peace working on (through?) it. Like, life-altering intergenerational processing disguised as a fast-paced book about shapeshifting spies in a squabbling, paper-pushing society, where everyone’s busy arguing about the best methods of brewing their ancestral teas.
I’m also having a lot of fun working on short fiction and essays. I’m processing things in my short fiction as well, but it feels more like a snappy response to issues at hand. I’m enjoying flash fiction, which ends up feeling really structurally playful. I have some essay pitches I need to get together, but they’re luckily fairly evergreen so I can take my time.
All in all it’s been a very busy writing year. There’s always hiccups and seasonal whooshes of ‘god I’m so terrible I’m a tongueless hack I don’t want to write a thing.’ But I love the process more than ever, and I’ve been able to build some amazing community this year. Strengthening those bonds and connections will definitely be a priority for me in 2023.
These all my little bits of writing that don’t fit anywhere else.
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