I'm stealing the title and idea for this post from my friend Sarah Pinsker, who had an incredible writing year in 2013. I hope this was just one point on a long upward trajectory for her.
My year wasn't as strong as hers. But looking at the numbers, it wasn't the disaster I imagined. Most of my writing occurs on the bus, in the mornings, four days a week. Sometimes I write in the afternoons or on weekends, but I tend to save weekends for edits and rewrites, which often require me to spread out more than I can on the bus.
Although I kept submitting some of my non-genre fiction in the first part of the year, I moved decisively to write what I want to read: speculative fiction of all kinds. Of the five full-length stories I wrote start-to-finish this year, 2 were near-future SF, one was farther-future hard SF, one was contemporary fantasy, and one was a second-world fantasy. Two of the three flash fiction pieces were superhero stories of a sort; the third, dark fantasy. Of stories I'm still working on, two are near-future SF and one is far-future space opera set in the same world as my maybe-a-novel-in-progress.
Unfortunately, none of the eight complete pieces I've got has sold yet. In part, this may be because I've continued to tweak the pieces and I'm never entirely happy with anything. In part, it might have to do with the wide range of what I'm working on, and trying to find my voice. And in large part, it comes from lacking the confidence to submit repeatedly and without compunction.
I'm doing better at getting a pipeline going, with different works in different stages of production. My 2014 goal is the same as my 2013 goal was: to break into genre writing. But with my second child due at the end of June, at least the third quarter's likely to be a bust.
By the numbers:
- Submissions outstanding: 4 (1 spec-fic)
- Total submissions 2013: 55
- Acceptances: 3 (1 from 2012 submission)
- Publications: Fourteen Hills, Spartan, Matchbook
- genre magazines: 0
- Pro-rates: 0
- print magazines: 1
- e-zines: 2
1 acceptance on 13th submission of the story; 2 on 1st submission
Stories completed in 2013:
- 5 full-length (avg 4200 words)
- 3 flash (average 767 words)
Works in progress:
- 3 promising shorts (10,000 words)
- 1 flash (300 words)
- 1 long story (potential novel) (37,000 words)
False starts / snippets: 6+
Also, one reading at Hugo House.
Which means, excluding snippets, false starts, and numerous words cut in rewrites and edits, I've managed to write 70,000+ words this year. The bad news is that the novel wants to be three or four different books, so unless a miracle happens many or all of those words are headed out. I hope to focus more on short stories next year, unless the novel grabs me again. If not, I'll chalk it up as background for the several other stories I've got set in the same universe—one done, one nearly done, and one barely started.
I also did a better job plugging myself into the local SF community this year. I attended Norwescon and Cascade Writers, took a class at Hugo House with Nancy Kress, and attended the initial Seattle Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers (SF2W) meeting/party put together by Django Wexler. Heck, I attended lunch today at Crossroads Mall with Ken Scholes, where I ran into John Pitts, who led my critique group at Cascade.
I'm still running into challenges figuring out how to balance writing and community with my nontrivial familial and professional obligations—a problem that gets worse next year, for all the fun and personal satisfaction I'm looking forward to, but somehow I'll find a way. I hope. (If not, I've got a new top goal for 2015.)
My short story, "The Angel of Hunger," has just beenpublished by Fourteen Hills, which is SFSU's literary magazine.
The story is in Issue 19.2, which you can buy at that link.
I send a lot of e-mail where I expect an answer back. But tracking who I'm expecting to hear back from, and about what, is a manual process.
Why doesn't e-mail have a "send and flag for follow-up" button?
I hope to have one or two more publications to announce by or around the end of the month. Keep your fingers crossed!
Friday was a good day for getting help from Google.
I broke the SASAG Web site. The main site worked, but I had a 500 error on the admin interface, with the HTTP error logs reporting
Fatal error: Call to undefined function get_home_path() in wordpress/wp-admin/includes/misc.php on line 128.
In order to fix the problem, I needed to connect to the Web server with SSH. But I needed to use the Socks5 proxy we use at work to access the outside world. I'd never run SSH via a SOCKS5 proxy before, but it turns out to be very easy: I just added
-o 'ProxyCommand /usr/bin/nc -x localhost:1080 %h %p' to use the proxy forward I had running on port 1080.
Once connected via SSH, I solved the problem by moving the old plugin version out of the way and installing the new version. (This did preserve my settings, fortunately.)
Later, at home, I wanted Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 to report its word count rounded to the nearest 100 words. A little bit of searching revealed a helpful answer for that too.
Why do I need to know the last four digits of each of my cards in order to know if it's my personal or the joint checking account, if it's my personal AmEx or the corporate AmEx? Just a nickname per card would be terribly useful to me.
I'm thankful to live in a country where, when my 11 month old son is vomiting, I can walk to the drugstore and buy water with electrolytes and sugar tailored for his condition. (And I'm thankful to be able to afford it.)
I'm thankful to live in a time when, when my 11 month old son has a 104 degree fever, I can give him acetaminophen and his fever will decline. (And I'm thankful to be able to afford it.)
I'm thankful to be able to call a nurse after hours, and get guidelines on what changes in my son's condition indicate that we should seek immediate medical attention. (And I'm thankful that, had we needed to go, we have health care coverage.)
Yup, I'm a lucky guy. And my son's a lucky guy, even if he isn't feeling so great right now.
Recently, several scuba divers did the unthinkable: captured and ultimately killed a Giant Pacific Octopus that was living at Cove 2, one of Seattle's most popular dive sites.
I'm not opposed to hunting, including spearfishing. But taking creatures at popular dive sites impoverishes everyone who dives in these places.
While these divers acted antisocially, their behavior was apparently legal. There's now a petition to protect the Giant Pacific Octopus at Cove 2, as well as evaluate broader restrictions on harvesting the GPO.
Seeing a Giant Pacific Octopus is one of my favorite things to do on a dive. They are beautiful, majestic, intelligent, and utterly alien. The only underwater sight in my experience that compares was a manta ray night dive in Hawaii.
From my friend Rob's server, where this blog has been hosted for more than seven years, to a new home on Amazon EC2. I think everything is under control, but please let me know if you see something odd.
I've had a Kindle Touch for nearly a year now, and I love it. I'm doing my best to avoid upgrading to the Kindle Paperwhite (at least until I see one in person!), but I have one silly gripe: I want the screen saver for my Kindle (what appears when the device is 'locked') to be the cover of the book I'm reading.
The random images are nice, and could still be used if the Kindle locks while on its home page. But showing the book cover would be a lot more "booky" and might provide opportunities for casual conversation that the random images lack.