Writing in 2012
2012 was the year that I started to properly try and fit writing in around my life (busy job and two kids under 5 don’t make that easy!). It is modest by a lot of people’s standards, but the tally of my outcomes in 2012 include:
- 7 flash fiction pieces written and published in Antipodean SF (also narrated on the Beam Me Up podcast in the US). See my bibliography page for details.
- Combining those 7 pieces flash pieces into a single publication titled A Flash in the Pan? which I made available through Smashwords (fascinating experience that I documented in a previous post).
- Written one 4,000 word short story that I’m relatively happy with (Story A).
- Written one 11,000 word short story that I’m mediumly happy with (Story B).
- Written one 4,000 word short story that I’m vaguely happy with (Story C).
- Written about 70,000 words of a first draft of a novel. I’m not happy with those words. Not happy at all. But at least they are there.
- Started sketching out ideas for 2 or 3 more short stories that I’m quite excited about.
My reading in 2012 has lead me to a lot of excellent work by excellent writers. I’ve also met/heard from a few of the local writers I admire most at the two conventions that I’ve attended (more on that later). It is clear to me that my writing isn’t in those people’s league, perhaps never will be. But it is hard to adequately express how much satisfaction I’ve felt in getting some of these stories down on paper. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to keep working to make them better and I’d love to have them published. But even if, as I suspect, I’m never going to be the wordsmith I’d like to be I’m still going to keep writing. I just enjoy it too damn much!
A big part of my writing year was getting other people to read my work and provide comment. This started with Ion Newcombe of Antipodean SF reading and editing the stories I sent through to him for publication. Ion is very generous with his time and comments – I learnt a lot from him this year. I also had a couple of local fellow writers provide comments on some of my work which was very useful (hi Lyn and Rick if you’re reading).
I also finally discovered an online writing workshop that I’m very happy with. Quite a few people – strangers who didn’t have to worry about whether their comments would hurt my feelings – got stuck into one of my stories recently. It was excellent – so many different perspectives showing me what was and wasn’t working. The result is Story A listed above – one that I’m about to start sending out into the world.
Story A was one of my big learnings actually. It started as a 2,000 word story I sent in for the Continuum 8 writing competition. I was pretty happy with it. It didn’t rate a prize, so I sent it in to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. It didn’t get past round 1 of their review process, but I got an encouraging comment back from the reader. I then decided to let the story sit for a while and review when I could approach it with a fresh perspective and also try to get some more opinions on it. Each time I got some comments they were very valuable, and I ended up rewriting and expanding on major parts of the story. Each time I responded to a set of comments, I was always happy with the result. And then there were more comments! It was an excellent learning experience.
Providing critiques of other people’s work has helped focus my thinking on what does and doesn’t work in a story. I’ve had the privilege of reading some excellent stories through the year, both provided directly from authors or through the online workshop.
Attending Continuum 8 and GenreCon this year was another great learning experience. I’ve detailed my experiences in other posts (Continuum 8 and GenreCon), but GenreCon in particular was eye opening about the writing industry. Also got to meet some fantastic people at both conventions.
Engagement in the speculative fiction community has been very interesting. In 2012 I set up a Twitter account and made some tentative steps towards using social media – some interesting lessons there, including what not to do. I’ve started to “unfollow” some people who just use their Twitter account to constantly spam about their self published books. I don’t mind the occasional mention of people’s work, but when it seems like they have set up an automated process to tweet about their book on the hour every hour, well then they’ve lost me. Actually I could probably write a whole post on Twitter and social media generally so I’ll stop the rant here before I get properly started!
My engagement in the broader speculative fiction community has been tentative. I’m acutely conscious of the fact that I’m not a “proper” published writer and that I’m interacting with people much more experienced than I am. I’ve generally found people to be very generous with their time and thoughts but I don’t like to abuse that generosity.
A large part of my “contribution” to the wider discussions in the community has been through posting on this website. Reviewing the books that I read is my way of reflecting on the work to help my own writing, but also trying to provide profile for those works I enjoy. Goodreads has been good for that, and I’ve posted most of my reviews there as well as on this site. Traffic to the website has been steady but not huge (most days have between 3 and 10 visitors and in total 2177 people visited the site in 2012), but I’ve had some nice comments from people and I think generally my reviews have been well received. My most popular post for the year wasn’t a review, it was a reflection on my accomplishments in the Australian Women Writers’ 2012 Reading Challenge (In which I become less impressed with my AWWC accomplishments) that got a signal boost from people on Twitter, driving a lot of traffic to the site.
And finally, I’ve spent some time in 2012 helping out in minor ways with the Antipodean SF online magazine. Mostly I’ve been producing the ePub version of the magazine and doing some narration of stories. I find the publishing side of the writing industry fascinating as well and working with the AntiSF editor Ion has been a great learning experience.
Writing in 2013
So, what’s planned for 2013? I found it difficult to find time to write through 2012 – it was a fairly tough year in the non-writing parts of my life. I’m taking a bit of time over the new year to recharge and hopefully get into a more sustainable rhythm. In the hopes that by writing it down in a public place I may just embarrass myself into getting things done, this year I hope to:
- Start submitting Story A around the traps
- Polish Stories B & C to a submittable level
- Ignore the crappy-ness and finish the first draft of the novel, then start the polishing process. Even though I’m not happy with the writing, I do still really like the core idea of the story and want to give it a proper go
- Write at least three additional stories of short to novella length
- Receive cash money for at least one story
- Write a few flash fiction pieces for Antipodean SF and continuing to help out with narrating and creating ePub versions of the publication
- Get more involved with the online workshop and try to provide useful critiques for a wider range of stories
- Support any fellow early stage writers (or indeed any writers!) in any way I can
- Attend Conflux 13 in Canberra in April
- Attend GenreCon in Brisbane
- Attend the Speculative Fiction Festival at the NSW Writers Centre
- Try to participate in the speculative fiction community in Australia more regularly
- Look out for the opportunities I can’t see coming yet!
So that’s me. How about you?