Filed under writing

Writerly resolutions: August Status

August finally felt like a return to normal—whatever that would be in my progress on the novel. Progress on the novel. Looking pretty pretty good.  managed to finish chapter 22 and get a good start on chapter 23 without too much dithering about what’s happening in the novel. It’s still a challenge to get myself to re-read the pages when it’s time to rewrite/revise, but I’m spending les time procrastinating about it than has been the case before.

My submittable queue is slowing down its draining with only one rejection coming in after prompting (plus another rejection for a non-submittable submission). One prompting did get a response sayin that I should hear from them soon and that it might take “up to eight months” to get a response. It had been nine months when they sent that. September should see the publication (finally) of two pieces accepted earlier in the year.

A story of a word

I got an e-mail yesterday inquiring about the spelling of a word that I used in a poem that will be published this fall. I had written “galabiyya”Image of galabiyya in reference to the robe-like garb that some Islamic men wear. My editor, doing due diligence found spellings of “galabeya” and “jalabiya.” 

I honestly didn’t even remember using the word in the poem (it’s been over a year since I originally submitted the poem and longer still since I wrote the first draft—what’s more I’ve since retired the notebook where I wrote that first draft along with any notes and would be hard pressed to find it at the moment). My best guess is that I googled something like “What is the name for the robe that some Islamic men wear?” and went with the first result that came up with a picture that corresponded to what I was thinking. (I almost wonder whether I really wanted was taqiyah, the skullcap that some Muslims wear).

Now the fun part of all this is that Arabic is, of course, written in the Arabic alphabet and any transliteration of Arabic to English is going to be imperfect. As an added bonus, the Arabic word, جلابية will be transliterated differently from Egyptian Arabic than other North-African dialects because ج which is the first letter is pronounced g in Egypt but j (or dj) elsewhere.

Googling my spelling turned up the Wikipedia article which offered three different spellings (one in the title and body and two more in the introduction), none of which were my spelling: “Jalabiya,” “galabeya” and “jellabiya.”

Then I thought, what does my dictionary have? I dug into the dictionary on my computer and found:

djel·la·bajəˈläbə | (also djellabah or jellabanoun a loose hooded cloak, typically woolen, of a kind traditionally worn by ArabsORIGINearly 19th century: from Moroccan Arabic jellābajellābiyya.

(As an aside, despite the etymology given here, Wikipedia distinguishes between Djellaba and Jellabiya.)

Then I thought what about Wiktionary? Unlike Wikipedia, it doesn’t make the distinction between the two robes and unlike the dictionary on my Mac it leaves out the hood, but it is generous in offering twenty-four spellings, none of which is my original!

In the end I decided to go with “Jalabiya.” I’d seen it used in enough different sources and the poem really needed the extra syllable so the dictionary headword forms weren’t workable. 

Writerly Resolutions: July Status

Something has changed.Graph of progress in July showing pretty good progress I’m not necessarily having the progress I’d ideally like, but I’m doing much better at getting the words onto the page. Still a lot of flat stretches in the graph, but the vertical bits are more vertical than they’ve been for months.

The submittable queue has drained from 8 down to 5. Only one submission over a year old now. One press, upon being contacted this month realized they’d mislaid my submission and promptly rejected me. Another told me they’ve had a staff change and it’ll “take some time” to hear from them. I’m intending to be more proactive in contacting the other presses in August.

Writerly resolutions: June Status—They’re all quarantine editions I guess

June was yet anotherGraph of June writing progress mediocre month, although I did at least finish a draft of chapter 21. Now the only problem is getting myself willing to do a critical read of that chapter and start rewriting.

The submittable queue continues to trickle its way to empty, dropping from 10 down to 8. I have two submissions that are a year or more older now. I suspect that Storyscape Journal may have gone defunct in the wake of the COVID lockdown, but I have no firm confirmation of that yet.

Writerly resolutions: May Status—Quarantine Edition

See that graphGraph of May progress on the novel on the right? Looks pretty good at least for the end of the month, eh? Until you look at the vertical scale and see that I wrote less than 700 words the whole month. But at least things are starting to pick up and maybe June will be better.

As for clearing out the submittable queue, I got three more rejections this month which brought it from 13 down to 10. I have a “received” submission that’s due to celebrate a birthday June 27th if nothing changes.

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.

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.