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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.

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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Beautiful Sentences: Yiyun Li

Words fall short, yes, but sometimes their shadows can reach the unspeakable.

Yiyun Li, Where Reasons End.

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Beautiful Sentences: Jayson Greene

I glance up at her, and her heartbreak is so acute it is like the sun—I can’t look at it.

Jayson Greene, Once More We Saw Stars

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Writerly resolutions: November Status

November NewImagestarted strong but life interfered to slow things down dramatically in the second half of the month. Chapter 17 of the novel came together reasonably quickly, but I had trouble getting into chapter 18 (it’s finally beginning to flow, at least). Meanwhile in short story land, I’ve been working on a new story which is a reworking of an idea that I had as an undergrad in college but I lacked sufficient wisdom to write as anything more than an exercise in extended snark. With any luck the new version that is slowly extruding itself from my subconscious will be actual art. I do worry that, even though the concept is 33 years old, it might seem like it’s overly connected to the current zeitgeist.

Beautiful Sentences: Yiyun Li

What if life could be saved by clichés? What if life must be lived by clichés? Somewhere tomorrow and somewhere yesterday—never somewhere today but cliché-land.

Yiyun Li, Where Reasons End.

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Beautiful Sentences: Nafkote Tamirat

He hadn’t meant to create them. He simply spoke to them as he had to others before, looking directly into their eyes, giving utterance to what he believed to be right, unflinching, beautiful.

Nafkote Tamirat, The Parking Lot Attendant.

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Beautiful Sentences: R. O. Kwon

If I was sick of Christ, it was because I hadn’t been able to stop loving Him, this made-up ghost I still grived as though He’d been real.

R. O. Kwon, The Incendiaries.

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Writerly Resolutions: October Status

October was Graph of progress on the novel in Octoberthe month I (mostly) finished chapter 16 of the novel. I still have draft 3 edits to do and I’d like to get some feedback on that and do some more edits after that. It’s not as good as I’d hoped, but nothing ever is.

I’ve also ended up getting a bunch of older stories revised and into the submissions queues. Very little progress on new stories though. My new writing energy continues to be mostly directed at the novel.