My Writing, Writing

The Millennium Enters Adulthood

Happy New Year Everyone! A warm welcome to the 18th year of the current century and indeed, of the millennium!

Each December I undertake a detailed review of the year gone by. You can read my past year-end summaries here, here and here. 

The first quarter of the year whizzed past in adjusting myself to a regular workday routine after six months of maternity leave. Glancing through my records, I observe that I actually began writing and submitting around April. 

I finally took the advice of this article and started sending out my stories to multiple venues at a time, and I’ve hit 100 rejections for the year! 

I also have 8 acceptances to show for my efforts. 

The growth I see this year is in my writing which I believe has improved. The evidence is visible in the form of a few personal/higher-tier rejections I received from some of the most reputed literary journals. It may sound strange to brag about rejections but anyone who writes and submits will know exactly what I am talking about. 

On the other end of the spectrum lies my disappointment at not placing in the contests I entered though I believed the stories were of good quality.  

I had hoped to close the year on a win, but by the onset of the festive season, that hope blurred and eventually died down. I imagine all the editors shut down their laptops and headed out for the ragged mountains or sandy beaches, or simply snugged close to the loved ones while tearing the wrapping off their Christmas presents under the light of the tree. 

I’d have shared more detailed stats for the year but I’m not really sure they are that useful. The main thing to note is that submitting your writing amounts to a numbers game. The more you submit, the higher the chances of acceptance. 

I will continue to plod my way through 2018, trudging through my archives digging out stories to be revised and submitted, and hoping for the best. I remain, as always, incurably optimistic.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

My Writing, Writing

2015 Year-end Wrap-up

Every January I look back on the year that went past with the intent of scrutinizing it to see what I could’ve done better/different. It’s a fun exercise, and I like to make sure I’m growing in my writing. Check out my previous year-end posts here, here, and here.

At the beginning of the year I had formulated a plan to send out my writing to more venues than I ever had previously. I had 15 acceptances in the year 2015. That may sound lyrical and poetic now, but to be honest it’s better than I expected to do when I started submitting.

Out of a grand total of 171 submissions, I garnered 15 acceptances (1 was accepted last year but published this year). The final tally looks something like the following:

Accepted 14
No response 7
Rejected 107
Responded 3
Shortlisted 2
Submitted 33
Withdrawn 5
Grand Total 171

As expected, a majority of submissions have been rejected. The ‘Responded’ category refers to queries I sent and I maintain it only for tracking purposes. The ‘Submitted’ status means it is awaiting a response, so there are 33 of those still lurking in the ether.

This time I included a ‘Shortlisted’ category, wherein twice my piece was shortlisted but not finally published. I couldn’t count it as a rejection either, so I created this new category. One of these venues was On The Premises. In their regular contests, if you make the shortlist but don’t make the final set of winners or honorable mentions, you get a detailed critique of $15 value. I got my critique from their editors, and I have to say it was way beyond the stated value. I highly encourage my fellow authors to submit to their contests. You get to read great stories either way when the issue is out, and even if you don’t win a prize you can win a chance at a critique from the editors which is highly valuable.

In 2014 too, I had 15 acceptances. This set me thinking about what was the difference between my submissions in 2014 and 2015. Here’s what I think:

  • Last year I tended to send out submissions to every publication that generally suited my stories. This year I tried to fine-tune my targeting of markets, and in many cases I wrote stories or essays meant for them, such as the On the Premises contest. I found this works better than dusting off an old story and moulding it to suit the theme.
  • A spin-off of the above point – there were a few markets I wanted to see my name in, mainly because I admire them. That was satisfied this year with pieces published in Literary Mama, Open Road Review, Papercuts, the Her Stories Project, etc. I also had a humor piece published in HuffPost India.
  • The number of non-responses still surprises me. I know the number is paltry in terms of the total, but I would have preferred at least a rejection note from venues that don’t state explicitly that ‘No response means no’. A couple of markets simply shut down, so that’s out of my control.
  • Last but not the least, I sold two short stories at pro-rates! This was a target at the back of my mind, one of those things that I just wanted to see if I could do it or not. One was in GreenPrints journal and another from Cracked Eye. In both cases I got paid on acceptance.

On the writing front, I achieved the following:

  • Attempted to write 500 words a day every day. I did this successfully in the first half of the year, but stopped by May as I was starting to feel the effects of burnout.
  • The end-of-year writing count total came to around 113k. I don’t set yearly targets or anything, so I am happy with this total. It’s a fair improvement on my 2014 total of 80k words.
  • More than 70% of the total was achieved in the first five months while I was on the 500-words-per-day diet. My writing in the second half of the year, due to increased work combined with health issues, was quite sporadic.
  • I still managed one short story per month for the Short Story Challenge. I am sorry to say I won’t be continuing it in 2016. I lack the time and also I want to revise the stories I’ve written over these two years. The body of work I’ve created is quite substantial now, and I’d like to actually see more of these stories published.
  • Helped copyedit and publish Distant Echoes, a collection of some of the best stories thrown up by the 2014 Short Story Challenge. This is a major landmark for me as I had never been part of publishing something on Amazon before! I am pleased to say that the collection is doing well.

That’s all from me. How has 2015 treated you? Have you (dare I say it) made any resolutions for 2016?

My Writing

New Beginnings and 2014 Wrap-up

Happy New Year, everyone! The year begins on a positive note. My humorous essay Its Not Personal is up at Page & Spine on The Writer’s Table. 2014 had been a stellar year for me in terms of my writing. I managed a grand total of 80k words which amounts to little more than 200 words a day. The breakup is as follows:

19 short stories
16 essays
10 pieces of flash fiction/nonfiction
12 blog posts

I made a total of 165 submissions:
Accepted – 15
Rejected – 108
Withdrawn – 8
Submitted – 23

The rest were no responses, even from markets that don’t have a ‘No response means no’ policy. Those befuddle me a little, but I understand there might be reasons for this, so for me it’s just better to chalk it up as a lost cause and move on.   On the final day of the year I received 3 rejections. Ouch! Luckily I’ve grown too thick-skinned to allow this to affect me! I have renewed my commitment to the Short Story Challenge, and will continue writing one a month for 2015. Among other writerly tasks, revising the stories I’ve written and submitting them is of paramount importance. If I don’t work on that soon then I’ll land up having acquired a platoon of stories and no action taken on them.

It hasn’t been a great year for me in terms of reading as I finished only around 20 books this year, a record all-time low for me. However I’ve made up for it by reading tons of short stories and entire issues of literary journals, both to understand markets I intend to submit to as well as to analyze the components of well-written fiction and non-fiction.

Resolutions are passé, or they should be, at least for people like me who never manage to keep them. However I do plan to commit to my writing and make time for it as much as possible.

What are your plans for the New Year?

Travel, Writing

HNY

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Last year, I wrote about my year in review and set goals for this year too. This year, I thought of checking how I’ve fared. 

What I intended to do in 2011:

  1. Attempt all the recipes in my Italian Cooking cookbook – I’ll consider this done! The only things I haven’t attempted in this cookbook are the recipes for making pizza base.
  2. Complete at least one of the novels swirling in my head – Not done, but got around 10k done as part of Nano. You can check out the first page here.
  3. Call up a piano teacher and resume the lessons that I dropped 15 years ago – Haha! In my dreams!
  4. Break into five new markets. I say this every year and last year I managed three – Managed two, both for fiction which was my focus this year.
  5. Write/complete at least one short story per month – Shockingly, I’ve written 9, count them, NINE, brand new full-fledged short stories this year, and two more that I’ve started. I’ve astonished myself with my output!
  6. Work out in gym minimum 3 days a week – I have done this fairly regularly, except for weeks in between when the cold/cough/viral/flu got the better of me. 

What I didn’t intend to do but did anyway:

  1. Visited three new places this year – Kashmir, Goa and Jodhpur/Jaisalmer.
  2. Rode a horse for the first time
  3. Jet-skied in Goa
  4. Rode a camel in Jaisalmer – never had so much backache in my life!
  5. Attended a Writing Workshop hosted by the awesome amazing Anil Menon! Two weekends full of writing and discussions related to writing – best experience ever!
  6. Prepared some of Nigella’s recipes, including her meatloaf and back-from-the-bar snack, among others.

 

That’s all for 2011! Here’s to hoping 2012 is awesome and inspiring for everyone!