I’m going to try to keep the format of this the same. I’ll begin with a review of what I wanted to accomplish in 2015, and then we’ll examine whether or not I achieved what I set out to do (SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t). After that, I’ll lay out exactly what I intend to accomplish in regard to my writing output in 2016. I find that doing this helps me stay accountable, and be realistic about what I can and can’t do. It also helps me to celebrate my achievements, which is necessary for any writer, because this shit is hard and we need to pat ourselves on the back every so often.
You ready? I’m ready. Let’s go.
In that post up there, I laid out some rather ambitious goals and guidelines for my 2015 writing output. These goals fit into three sections, each of which has a different sort of importance for my writing career. The sections were:
- Writing and Publishing
- Community Building
I address those last two, Branding and Community Building, in the previous post:
…Branding and Community Building, aren’t technically related to my writing, they are important, as I publicize my writing and interests through twitter and other social networks, which assists me in networking with other writers and discovering resources.
I won’t be talking about those strategies, or my goals for them from last year here. Instead, I’m focusing almost totally on the first group, Writing and Publishing. Here were my goals from last year:
- Complete a novella-length fantasy work for submission to a pro or semi pro market.
- Finish edits on stories critiqued by [WRITING GROUP]. Finish incomplete short stories. Submit edited short stories to pro and semi-pro markets, submit incomplete short stories to Fizzgig for review.
- Write MORE short stories. In 2014, I sat down and wrote eleven short stories. Of those eleven, five were completed. (that’s a 45% rate of completion. Could be better.) Three of the five short stories were submitted to anthologies or online publications. In 2015, I want to write twice as many short stories as I did in 2014. Failing that, I want to COMPLETE as many short stories as I attempted in 2014.
- Continue to build my voice as a SFF cultural critic through frequent blogging and more submission of nonfiction pieces to online culture/review magazines and literary journals.
I set goals to have a piece of short fiction ready for publication every month. I also intended to have a novella-length piece of fiction finished and ready to be submitted by April.
2015 Review and Reflections:
First off, let’s talk about what I did in 2015. I kicked a lot of ass in some areas, and failed in others. I was definitely more visible, and expanded my horizons in 2015. A lot of these new experiences were really fun.
I completed four pieces of new, original fiction, and two more are still in the works. Of these four pieces of new fiction, one was submitted to a couple of markets, and was rejected by both. A piece of short fiction that I wrote in 2013 will be reprinted in an online magazine. Another piece of original fiction that I hoped to move as a new sale has been eaten by the void: I got an acceptance from an editor of an anthology regarding the piece in early 2015, and then I’ve heard no more about the piece, the anthology, or the magazine since. My crowning fiction achievement in 2015 was all of the coverage of my Memphis Noir piece, “Tell Him What You Want”: it got favorable mentions in Publisher’s Weekly and The Commerical Appeal. When I compare my 2015 accomplishments to my 2015 goals, we can see that I fell rather short of my projections. There were a few reasons for this (other than my being a lazy bum):
- In late march, my MacBook was a victim of Death by Coffee, which put a halt on all production. I didn’t get a new computer for a month.
- In late April, I started a new full time job, which forced me to reevaluate how I structure my writing time.
These two developments had more impact on my production of short fiction than almost anything else. The death of my computer also delayed production on the novella-length piece that I was working on, but I finished it in November of 2015. It has been submitted to a potential publisher. Shoutout to Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali and Phenderson Djeli Clark for their help with that.
Nonfiction is where I shined in 2015. I began writing for Book Riot in late May of 2015, and its sister site, Panels, in November 2015. I’ve contributed a number of articles to each site since I’ve started, some of which have been very popular. Here’s my favorite.
I’ve also been called on for other work. I’ve written on some of my favorite books for SFSignal and the Memphis Flyer, and I’ve showed up to a couple of podcasts. All in all, 2015 was a very productive year, particularly for my nonfiction writing. I’ve also made quite a bit of money from my writing in 2015, which
has gone directly to my student loans is a balm to my hungry, hungry pockets. I still need to find homes for a lot of my fiction, though, and I also need to really work on producing, submitting, and publishing more short fiction.
Strategy for 2016:
Again, my only focus in this section will be writing. In the previous plan, I outlined a strategy for Branding and Community building, and those will remain pretty much the same. Instead, I’m going to split 2016 into two parts, and focus on those parts individually.
2016 Part 1:
- Complete 2 pieces of original short fiction for publication to upcoming anthologies.
- Finish incomplete pieces of short fiction, and edits on completed short fiction.
- Submit edited short fiction to pro and semi-pro markets.
- Submit short fiction to [NAME OF WRITING GROUP REDACTED] for suggested critiques.
- Last year, I made a pledge to write more short fiction. I wanted to write as much short fiction in 2015 as I had in 2014, with the ultimate goal to complete a piece of short fiction every 30 days. Life was like, “nah fam. Wyd?” Even though I normally don’t take a long time to complete a first draft, I have to actually sit down and write the damn thing, which is where I failed last year. Instead, I’ll focus on quality over quantity. I want to write two face-meltingly good pieces of short fiction in the first half of 2016.
- My chosen markets to crack in 2016 are Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. Sword and Soul Forever!
- Continue to build my voice as a cultural critic through frequent blogging and more submission of nonfiction pieces to online culture/review magazines and literary journals.
2016 Part 2:
I need to have a workable first draft of a novel completed in 2016. Point blank. I have a couple of ideas that I’ve been floating, and I’m going to get to work on them. I hope to have a fantasy novel completed in one year. Cross your fingers for me.
As I said last year, “one surefire way to become a better writer is to write more. And ultimately, that’s the goal of all of this.”
Like always, I want to hear from other writers. Are you plotting or pantsing your writing for 2016? Are you making any changes to an existing plan? Hit up the comments with your plans, and if you’ve blogged about it, drop me a link. I care, if don’t nobody else care.