Writerly resolutions: April Status—Quarantine Edition

April started off with Graph of progress on my novel for the month of April.some promise but quickly leveled off.  There were only nine days that I wrote anything at all. On the good news front, I’ve settled Catan numerous times.

My Submittable queue continues to drain, a little bit faster than last month, so now I’m down from 17 to 13 submissions. Half of this though was my submissions for the Nelson Algren prize being silently moved to closed.

Here’s hoping for some real progress in May.

My social media fast

Back at the beginning of March, I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, signed out on all my computers and began a Lenten fast from social media. Shortly afterwards, COVID-19 sent everything kiddlywumpus. It’s ben an interesting experience not being connected to the communities on social media that I had been for over a decade before.

I have to confess that my social media procrastination has been redirected rather than quenched during this time. I’ve become addicted to Apple News which is just a right swipe away on my phone to get to the top stories of the day. And my wife and I have traded snippets of news over text as the COVID-19 crisis grew increasingly present, including watching the Oak Park Health Department’s occasional reports of new COVID-19 cases turn into daily reports of multiple cases per day.

Quarantine, as I noted yesterday, has been not especially conducive to my writing life although I did manage to get a few hundred words in today with the possibility of more today.

Writerly resolutions: March Status—Quarantine Edition

So you’d Graph of progress on the novel in Marchthink that with quarantine I’d be more productive as a writer. You’d think wrong. I made good progress on revising the last chapter I wrote in the first half of the month, but the new chapter has been coming a few words at a time.

My Submittable queue has drained much more slowly this month, going down just a little bit from 20 to 17, but I also got an acceptance for a poem during the quarantine period. 

Writerly resolutions: February Status

February continued to be a Graph of progress on the novel in Febuarycrappy month for me personally, although, unlike January, I actually made some progress on the novel. Chapter 19 is finished and Chapter 20 is nearly done with its first draft. I even managed to write a paragraph on a short story.

My Submittable queue continues to drain, with its total down to 20 from 31 and the end of January. A couple of bright spots included the story that was accepted last month getting another acceptance from a journal that I had thought was going to go no response with the piece and a personal rejection for that same story from The New Yorker. I guess that story might be OK.

Writerly resolutions: January Status

January was a crappy month. I did very little writing on the novel. I started a new project which I’ve since discarded as self-indulgent garbage. The lone bright spot was an acceptance for a story and the slow decline of the size of my submittable queue (down from 53 to 31). I can only hope that February comes out better because there’s not much room for things to get worse.

Writerly resolutions for 2020

2019 was a disappointing year on many fronts, so I figure 2020 can’t help but be better.

My goals for the year

  1. Finish a complete draft of We, The Rescued
  2. Rewrite and revise to get it in a state where I can have some other eyes read it.
  3. Cut way back on submissions. I’m not going to submit anything until my submittable queue (which currently has 53 submissions in it) has completely drained and then I’m going to be far more deliberate on submissions going forward (I have a couple chapters from the novel which could stand alone as stories, but I’m going to let them ripen a while, along with any stories I happen to finish this year).

As with last year’s resolutions, I’ll check back in with status reports each month.

Writerly resolutions for 2019—the post mortem

I had two goals for the year and failed on them both.

I aimed to finish the full draft of We, The Rescued

Graph of progress on the novel showing steady progress but falling short of goal

This entailed writing some 50,000 words over the course of the year. I made steady progress (as the graph above shows), but not steady enough and I had more than a few stuck moments which kept me from getting past some 30,000 words for the year. 

I also aimed to get a story a month finished and into submissions. Didn’t even come close, although I did get all my stories which had been previously rejected and were hanging about revised and into submissions but just one new story went out and that didn’t get picked up (although it was (a) a long shot for publication because of its length and (2) got some positive responses anyway).

2019 in rejections (and acceptances)

2019 was a grim year for me publishing-wise. I had only two acceptances, one each of fiction and poetry, the worst rejection rate since 2012 and for the first time since I sold my first story, I went a year without any income (not even a token sum) for any of my writing.

As the chart below shows, my fiction submissions for the year were up a fair amount. Perhaps they should have been down instead? My acceptance rate was 0.5% (down from 3.6%) and my positive response rate was also down—21% from 27%.

Graph of submissions since 2007. It’s depressing.

Poetry looks a little better, but only just. The green band at the bottom of the chart showing acceptances is nearly invisible. My acceptance rate was stable at 0.4% but the positive response rate climbed from 8.2% to 17.3%. I’m beginning to feel like I have some idea of how to write a poem.

Chart showing poetry acceptances since 2015. It’s also depressing.

2019 in reading

I had set a goal for 2019 of reading 100 books and nearly made it with 95 books. I’ll aim again this year.

My favorite reads for the year, in alphabetical order, were:

It’s interesting to note how much of this highlights list is non-fiction (fully half). The fraction that are written by women has declined somewhat to just under half, but white men continue to be almost absent from the list again.

My overall stats for the year had the fraction of women I read decline a little from 52.4% to 49.4%. PoC also slightly declined from 21.4% to 19.3%. Dead White Men continued to decline from 10.5% to 5.4%. Non-US 34% up from 25.7%. Translations 7.5% up from 4.6%. Authors new to me 80.1% up from 76.7%. Re-reads 0.3% down from 0.7%. Authors I’ve met 4.5% down from 7.5%. Median publication year 2014 vs 2013. Books advanced in the reading queue to meet demographic goals, 23.7% down from 35.8%. Books read as novel research 9.7% down from 16.4%.

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Beautiful Sentences: Ann Patchett

There was no logic to the way any hospital was laid out—they grew like cancers, with new wings metastasizing unexpectedly at the end of long tunneled halls.

Ann Patchett, The Dutch House.

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