Reflections

So I’ve been reflecting some more on my writing this year and many thanks to those who commented on the last post of this nature, there’s some interesting food for thought in there.

Anyway, I must confess to being quite pleased with my productivity if nothing else. I’ve written seven short stories this year, completed the third draft of The Scarred God (88K) and forty-three pieces of flash fiction. I was quite surprised at this and a little concerned at whether my lack of success with placements was the result of falling foul of the quantity over quality minefield – but then I looked at my submission log.

Now, even I managed to clock that really you need to keep track of where your content is in terms of submissions but the unfortunate side effect is that you have nowhere to hide when your taking a cold hard look in the mirror. Months passed between rejection and submission to new markets on most of the stories dragging out the whole cycle far longer than it really needs to take. Key lesson: I need to dust myself off far quicker and get stories back out.* And to make sure it sinks in this year’s submission log is going up on the wall in a large font.

On the quality side, in spite of not getting stuff accepted I have actually managed to secure more feedback than ever before and it’s been of a very high standard. House was part of the lead issue on Aphelion for most of January (and is, I think, still live if you haven’t read it), Arvon was good for feedback from the professionals taking the course as well as fellow writers who didn’t know me and Friday Flash Fiction has been pulling in some quality advice.

F3 in fact has probably been the biggest success of the year with the blog’s most popular story (Tinman from Feb ’08, and my only proper hyperlink story) pulling in 273 views so far and there isn’t a story in the top ten that hasn’t gone into three figures on views. It’s good to know that at least some of my fiction has been getting in front of readers in the second half of the year. I experimented with posting a full length story (Wide Open Space) back in January 2008 on the grounds that the story in question had been knocking round for a while and I didn’t feel it would find a market easily but wanted someone to read it, around 50 did. I feel that kind of validates GLP’s comments regarding the dangers of self-publishing but it was a useful exercise and the story is still live if you want to read it.

I’ve had no success in placing my more popular flash with the limited markets that accept reprints but some of them I am really pleased with** and keen to push as wide as possible in terms of exposure. To whit: I will be conducting an experiment in January and will post my experiences here regardless of whether it succeeds. I’m not going to say anymore right now as I don’t want to prejudice the experiment (it’s the online marketer in me).

In summary, I think the year hasn’t been as much as a bust as I originally thought and I’ve learned quite a lot even if some of it’s been painful. The point of reflection is to take an honest look in the mirror in order to improve the things you’re disappointed in and continue the things you’re happy with. Certainly, since I’ve made the time to do it, I’ve found my energy levels returning – they were at a low through October/November – and my determination with it. Going forward I think I’ll try to review what I’ve done every three months or so to try and remind myself/check how far I’ve travelled. Don’t worry, I won’t necessarily blog it – it’s more for me.

Bring on 2009, I’m ready for ya.

*To be fair a few people pointed this out politely but now it’s sunk in.
**No doubt I’ll post a best of 2008 Flash list at some point in the next fortnight.

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