So, I started this blog and my new writing habits about a year ago. Before this point, I had written but nothing had ever seen the light of day. So, I thought perhaps it’s time to think back and take stock of what’s happened.
I started off starting a twitter account and religiously writing twitter stories and getting distracted no end. It helped build me a steady follower base but I’ve realised recently if I don’t tweet every day maybe it’s not so bad. When it starts feeling like a chore, perhaps it’s time to pull back a bit. Good news, I actually got through editing a short story without turning on twitter! Score one against procrastination! I hosted a twitter prompt last month which was, well, not exactly successful. Five people took part in the prompts, and yes, that includes me. It still seems that even on twitter, some people get noticed more and can gain more interaction.
The blog has survived a year, and although sometimes there is more activity than others, I’ll admit, I thought it would have withered and disappeared by now! I’m still finding my way on what sort of things people want to read: stories, thoughts, advice or none of the above but it’s definitely helped me generate some new ideas and I’ve made a few friends through it who have been very supportive and kind about my writing.
Last year I submitted to the trials of NanoWrimo. I did not succeed. I got ill after a week and lost all energy and impetus. I still have not finished that novel. But I haven’t abandoned it. It’s still chugging along in the background and it will get there. But I decided not to go through the tribulations of Nano again this year. It was too much pressure and I felt too disappointed when I didn’t make it. Also, it left me with so many plot holes because I was writing so fast. Not a good idea when you’re dealing with time travel.
The writing group! Yes, believe it or not after my initial terror, we are still going! There is a core 6 of us after the initial heady heights of 10 but we feel like quite an established unit now. I’m getting feedback from real people on my work and get to think through others’ work and it really has helped, in some instances just to solidify ideas in my head of what I’m trying to achieve. I can’t quite believe I set the group up and am still considered the ‘leader’ (I’ve asked for a Captain America style shield but so far nothing). It was completely out of my comfort zone. Normally, I sit at the back, merge into a wall, escape at the first chance and hope no-one noticed me before vowing never to go back again. Hard to do when you set the thing up in the first place!!! Still not sure how I ended up writing and leading a ghost walk for the group though…So here’s to another year of the writing group.
So, we come to submitting stories. In my (mumbles a number) years of writing, I submitted to 1 story before this year. Yep, a whole 1. It didn’t go anywhere so I crawled back to my comfort zone and hid again. This year, I have submitted 29 pieces of work to various anthologies and competitions. The outcomes have been no longlists for competitions but 2 stories accepted into anthologies. I have the actual paperbacks with my stories in on my shelf!!! Okay, so not a great success rate but the fact I have submitted so many for me is crazy! I’ve had feedback from a few of the unsuccessful pieces but even that was good and made me feel like they are worth resubmitting. My group have liked a couple of them too and have encouraged me to try and find places for them. There are a couple more I’m still waiting to hear back from and I’ve already got the first few submissions lined up for this next 12 months so it looks like I’m not quitting yet! I said the success rate is not great but if you’d told me I would have two stories printed in actual books and a tweet story printed in a #vss365 anthology I’d have thought you were mean and toying with me. Now I want more!!!! Next year, I want to be able to say I made it onto a competition longlist and have had another two pieces printed minimum. Okay, perhaps big talk but hey! Aim high, if I only get half-way that’s still pretty good.
What’s the biggest things to take away from this year then?
One: I think I’m getting better. Constantly writing, actually doing the editing process and listening to others has made me look closer. I think about word choice and order and style in a way I didn’t before. I think the stories I’ve written in the second half of the year are much better than before.
Two: I haven’t had to use knowledge of the terms fronted adverbials or subordinate clauses to know how to write or how to use them. So stop forcing this down children’s throats and let them write!!!! (Sorry, wasn’t going to get through a year review without a dig at the English National Curriculum.)
Three: I still frequently think I’m rubbish at writing and have spells where I wonder why I bother after yet another rejection email or longlist without my name on it. But that is not going to stop me writing. From what I’ve heard from others, it would be worrying if you didn’t have these feelings! I just need to ride out the storm, look at what I have achieved and get back to it. I started this blog with a post asking if I am good enough. The answer: still don’t know but I’m going to do my best to get there!
On that note, I have a submission to go and work on. Thanks for reading and following my ramblings for a year. May the writing gods be with you!