theferrett: (Meazel)

So four years ago, I graduated the Clarion Writers’ Workshop – six weeks of intensive training that broke a decade-long stagnancy, and allowed me to “go pro” when it came to writing.

But writing?  It’s a lot of work.  I used to do monthly round-ups of everything that I submitted/wrote/got rejected, but it was a lot of work and was usually boring.  But since it’s been four years, let’s tally up everything that I’ve done:

In four years of writing, I have:

Started 62 stories (or, started one new story every 3.4 weeks).

Finished the first drafts of 57 stories (or, finished 91.9% of all stories I started writing).

Polished and submitted 39 stories (or, gotten to a final draft of 62.9% of all stories I started writing – which is a misleading number, since I’ll complete some percentage of the stories I started during this four-year period – it can take me up to two years to get to final draft).

Sold 25 stories (three of which were to markets that imploded, or sold 40.3% of all stories I started writing).

Retired 6 stories, deciding I wouldn’t be happy at this point if someone actually bought them.

Received 219 short story rejections, or an average of 1.05 rejections every week.

Each published story was rejected by an average of 6.42 markets before it found a home.

Written 1 complete novel.  Which is currently making the rounds among too many agents. (Will share data once it’s accepted or retired.)

Been nominated for 1 major award.  Reprinted in 0 best-of year’s end collections.

Made infinite supportive writer friends at conventions and on Twitter.  Thank you all.

Based on a calculated life average of 75.44, I intend to keep at this for 32.24 years.

(If any of this impresses you, then I urge you; please donate to my Clarion Blog-A-Thon.)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Stories Sold This Month:
I sold my flash fiction spaceliner tale “In The Unlikely Event” to Daily Science Fiction.  Also, “Rooms

Stories Worked On This Month:

  • “Priest” (Heavily working title).  In Week Four of Clarion, I wrote a rather tedious story about a priest attempting to perform Last Rites on a zombie, which was led astray by a) me not being a terribly good writer, b) me trying to remain completely faithful to Catholic rituals, and c) the fact that I didn’t actually have an ending and as such just made something confusing and vague in the hopes of appearing deep.  Neil Gaiman correctly called this tale “boring.”  However, the backstory, in which we have a priest shooting zombies, was interesting, and made for a 1300-word tale.  Finished today.  Quite proud.
  • The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Sea” (Final first draft).  Finished this one about a girl who goes insane and believes the sea is her boyfriend; will clean up and submit to my faithful RL writers group shortly.
  • “Engraved On The Branches Of My Lover” (Final draft).  If you look back through the Clarionniversary posts, you’ll see many references to a story called “Bad Broccoli,” which has mutated so thoroughly that the only similar point is that both contain a postman for a protagonist.  I’ve rewritten this at least seven times and I don’t know whether it’s any good, as it’s too wrapped up in my personal mythology, but I cleaned it up as best I could and sent it out.
  • {$UNNAMED NOVEL}, did brief writeup on some of the main characters and setting.  Then got sidetracked by “Priest.”

October Rejections: One generic from Clarkesworld.  Not the good kind of generic where they held it for a week, but the bad kind where they sent it back in a day. Oops.

Currently In Circulation: “Riding Atlas,” “Unreal Estate,” “Devour,” “Season to Taste,” “All Things Head Towards The Sea,” “Shadow Transit,” “The Afternoon War,”  “Shoebox Heaven.”

A bad month, really.  I got lazy, didn’t really write for like four days.  That may not sound like a lot, but it sure is slacking for me.  I need to get on the whip, but I’m waiting to do final drafting on my Novel of Doom, and as such it’s difficult to get too attached to anything.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

One of the things I haven’t done since I moved my “main” blog to WordPress is to keep up my Clarionniversary posts – the ones where I tell you what I’ve worked on this month writingwise, how many rejections I’ve gotten, and what I’ve had published.

These never get many comments, but I think they’re important.  Because talent is something that’s nice to have, but some kind of work ethic is critical if you’re going to make it as a writer.

Look.  I used to be terrible about writing, and even worse about submitting.  I wanted to write, but I only wrote when the mood struck, or I’d had a good day, or I wasn’t too tired.  And that hurt me.  It’s taken me years of falling off the horse to turn these sporadic writing sessions into something I do with the same frequency that I brush my teeth or shower – which is to say, a daily activity regardless of what else I have planned.

As it turns out, when I look back at what I’ve written, it’s not notably better when I’m inspired or in a good mood.  So that’s the plan.  And I think it’s the plan for those 99% who aren’t just naturally good enough to churn out salable stories.

So I’m going back to posting these, showing where my effort’s been, and all the rejections go.  At this point I’m nowhere near a name writer, but I’ve got a pretty good publishing history for a guy with just over three years under his belt.  And I think anyone who’s curious should see what it takes for a man of my raw talent to turn into – well, not gold, but something resembling palatable currency.

Stories Sold This Month:
I sold the audio rights to “A Window, Clear As A Mirror” to PodCastle.  I love PodCastle, and I love this story – it’s the one with the money-back guarantee - so yay!

Stories Worked On This Month:

  • {$NAMELESS_NOVEL}” I finished the fourth draft of my novel, and sent it out to beta-readers.  Those who read it in my summer Clarion_echo blog-a-thon will note that the opening chapters have been considerably flensed of info-dumps to concentrate on character motivation.  Early feedback says it’s good.  After this, there’s one more draft and then it’s agent time.
  • The Afternoon War” (second draft).  I went to see a Civil War reenactment, then wondered what reenactments of future wars would look like – especially reenactments in big hulking mecha-suits.  A small, strange tale arose, which I finished and sent out to work.
  • In The Unlikely Event” (first, second draft).  This flashfic humor piece was inspired by the flight attendant reading off dire warnings; I wanted to know what the warnings for space travel would look like.  Funny, disturbing, probably unsalable like all of my humorous flashfic, but it’s out in submission now.
  • The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Sea” (partial first draft).  Still working on this one, which is a rather tragic tale of a girl who takes the ocean for her lover.  Probably a post on this one later in the week.

October Rejections: Four.  Two from Asimov’s, both very encouraging, but Sheila Williams determined that the tales in question were too horror-flavored for Asimov’s.  One rejection from Stupefying Stories, saying “an interesting and challenging – and for me, personally, rather uncomfortable – piece.”  One generic each from Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Travelling Medicine Show and Daily Science Fiction.

In addition, “Shoebox Heaven,” which had been purchased, is now back in circulation after the anthology that purchased it went under.  This is why I never announce sales before the contract is signed.

Currently In Circulation: “Riding Atlas,” “Unreal Estate,” “Rooms Formed of Neurons and Sex,” “Devour,” “Season to Taste,” “All Things Head Towards The Sea,” “Shadow Transit,” “The Afternoon War,” “In The Unlikely Event,” “Shoebox Heaven.”

A good month.  I’m stretching muscles.  The Novel of Doom is approaching completeness. Now I just have to get back to doing these summaries.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Three years ago, I walked out of Clarion and called a mulligan on two decades of bad writing.  I had, I said, never written a thing before this day, at least not one that counted.  And so I started clear.

I use these anniversaries to look over what I’ve done since then – both to remind myself of what I’ve accomplished, and to serve as a showcase to others as to the kind of effort it takes for a mediocre-to-good author like myself to scrape the bottom layers of what one might call “a professional” career.  (Not that I’m ashamed of what I’ve done – I’m quite proud – but I’m nowhere near a household name, and have been nominated for no awards.)

This is what it takes.  At least for me.

In three years:

  • 51 stories started
  • 46 stories completed
  • 32 stories final-drafted and submitted to at least one market
  • 172 rejections (or, on average, one rejection every six days for the past three years)
  • 19 stories sold
  • …6 to “professional” markets
  • 12 stories published
  • 3 stories made into audio productions
  • 6 stories retired when I realize I’d be embarrassed if I got them published
  • 1 novel written and completed
  • 1 old novel read for notes and revision

There are geniuses out there.  For the rest of us, it’s a lot of hard work.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.


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