I think the revelation struck me a couple of blog posts ago, when I advertised free swag. A fellow writer in the trenches said “Thanks… hope your writing’s going well.” It was then I realized I haven’t had diddly published this year in terms of new stories. The only thing I had put out to the reading public is a need to hope I’m still writing. Damn…
I checked my Duotrope and found an interesting pattern.
Counting back from 2011 when I got my first pro sale, I got accepted for publication 5 times that year, 4 of them at semi-pro zines.
2012 it was 8, 4 at pro sites. 2013 it was 5, all of them pro. 2014 it was 5, 4 pro 1 reprint.
Ready for this year’s stats? In 2015 I’ve gotten 3 acceptances, all pro. 2 in September, 1 in October, none of them have appeared in print yet.
There’s a couple reasons for the low numbers. One is the word “NO”. My spring and summer were full of ’em… Duotrope clocked me at 59 times rejected. Another reason is I’ve been fairly non-prolific, writing a handful of stories and wrestling with just how the final novel plays out (good news, I’ve gotten all the kinks unkinked, so expect a wrap up soon). I think all of this translated into the blog. It transformed along with my numbers, changing from a place where I kept sane in Iraq/Afghanistan to a place where I mostly posted recent publications which were coming frequently to what it is now, a quiet place with updates few and far between. The “no news is no news” approach to building a fanbase, I guess.
Goes to show you just how much this blog is a living, breathing entity. Right now it’s taking deep, labored breaths!
At first I was really bummed about the numbers accepted, the low turnout. But I looked at the stories I’ve written, the quality of work I’ve produced this year. One made finalist at Writers of the Future. Another put me on a first name basis with C.C. Finlay over at F&SF. Then there was one which earned me a personal rejection with Tor.com, who expressed a fervent (their word!) wish for me to send more. To Boldly Go has currently earned 17 votes (almost all of them 5 star!) and made my friend and fellow writer Anatoly Belilovsky seethe with pride and good natured envy.
And a bigger revelation took place, one where I realized I’ve grown this year. I’m not just writing the same stories. I haven’t been content to churn out content. I’ve been seeking new approaches to storytelling, new methodologies. Some don’t work as well as the traditional methods, some are well received even if there may not be a place on a site’s roster. Some are still out there at war with the slush, their success stories yet to be told. Mostly, I’m proud of these works and happy of how I have evolved to be able to write them.
Simply put, I don’t suck as much as I used to. I think everyone can call that a win.
So I’ve made peace with the low numbers of acceptances. I understand it’s ok to have a fallow year, low on harvest. Planting the same kind of seeds ruin the soil. Some years it’s better to grow your techniques, expand the area in which you can plant. In the long run, it’ll make for an even bigger harvest later.
Happy Thanksgiving people.