Posted by dahosek

Writerly resolutions: January status

How did January go? I’ve finished the research readingWhere once there had been precarious stacks of books, now there is empty floor. and the space on the floor where the research books had been stacked is now clear. I haven’t started on step two, the character bios, but I should begin that today. I’ve made a list of ten character bios to write, so that’s a start on that step.

I got applications in for the NEA and Sozopol, the latter had me doing a major revision on chapter 20 of the novel to use it as my writing sample which included a round of workshopping and revision. I feel good enough about it that I also sent it out as a story submission.

No notable progress on new work or revisions, but the prep for the Sozopol application was a big chunk of my writing time. We’ll see how February goes, but my objective is to finish the character bios this month and at least get one story out of post-workshop purgatory.

Non-book things that delighted me in 2022

I thought I had a collection of stuff that delighted me this year that would make this post a quick effort, but apparently not so much. So here are the things that delighted me last year that weren’t books.

Spider-Man: No Way Home. With the post-credit scene in Far From Home I was really curious to see how they were going to paint themselves out of the corner of revealing that Peter Parker was Spider-Man.¹ I was on board with the movie from the moment I saw the trailer where Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus appeared, looked at Spider-Man and said, “Hello, Peter.” Alfred Molina as Doc OckI’d worked assiduously to avoid any further spoilers beyond that first trailer and was rewarded handsomely for my efforts and while I’d heard the claims of Andrew Garfield’s appearance and his denials² I knew nothing of other villains appearing, nor did I have the slightest clue that Tobey Maguire would also show up. The whole thing was a wonderful bow on top of not just the MCU/Sony Spider-Man films, but all  the Spider-man films thusfar and a nice excuse to actually go to a movie theater in the middle of a pandemic.

Peacemaker. OK, it dragged at times, but really this is just an excuse to be able to embed the credit sequence which is by far the best opening credits sequence of all time.

Ravensburger Minecraft: Builders & Biomes. I was expecting something kind of half-assed when my son asked for this for Christmas, so imagine my surprise when we sat down to play it 742C4990 4 151986828and I discovered it’s actually a well-designed fun to play game with interesting elements of shifting strategy. As an added bonus, the score-keeping requires some basic math so my kids get to practice their multiplication and addition skills when they play.

  1. On a tangentially related note, it’s interesting that with the exception of Spider-Man and Daredevil, the superheroes in the MCU seem to have largely foregone the whole secret identity thing once Tony Stark stood at the podium and declared, “I am Iron Man.” 
  2. This will be published over a year after the movie came out. I’m not going to withhold spoilers now. Also, Rosebud was his sled, the woman is actually a man and Bruce Willis was dead the whole time and didn’t know it.

2022 in rejections (and acceptances)

Just like 2021, my submission pace has been slower, so my numbers are the lowest they’ve been since 2010.

graph of this year’s rejections and acceptances

My acceptance and personal rejection rate are both down, but I think that’s as much a reflection of not submitting much as anything else.

Poetry is also down in numbers but not as dramatically, even though I didn’t send out many new submissions this year. I normally wait until the last of my submissions has been rejected before beginning a new submission round, but I’m waiting on a journal whose name rhymes with “stew porker” to respond to some poems and another journal that is theoretically still in existence but is just barely hanging on also has some poems, so I may go ahead and start a new submission round without them. I have a bunch of new poems to put into the world, so there’s not much reason to hold off.

The boring picture of my poetry submissions since 2015.

Writerly resolutions for 2023

The big goal for the year is to get the novel third draft done. For that, I’m thinking I have the following measurable goals:

  1. Finish the last of the research reading  (only 6½ books right now).
  2. Character bios for major characters
  3. Do a highlighter read (per Matt Bell, pp. 128–133) 
  4. Read and annotate the printed manuscript based on bios, research notes and fresh eyes.
  5. Weasel word check (Bell, p. 141–4)
  6. Draft three to readers
  7. Draft four based on their comments
  8. Start querying

On top of that, I’ve got nine stories that have been workshopped and not either re-workshopped or pushed out of the nest and into the mean world of submissions. 

There’s also the fact that this is an odd-numbered year so I should buy a lottery ticket apply for an NEA grant and I’m also going to be bold and daring and apply for the Sozopol seminars as well.

And maybe I should get some new stories into workshopping while I’m at it.

Writerly resolutions for 2022—the post mortem

My resolutions for 2022 were a bit gentler and perhaps not so measurable. The stack on the right is gone, the stack on the left is much shorterI had a bit of a mid-year pivot on the novel where I decided to focus on a research binge after I finished draft two in July. This did give a nice visual where I had stacks of books that shrunk (and occasionally grew) as the research progressed. I’ve finished reading all the research books that I ended up buying because they weren’t available from the library and I’m almost done with the library books (I suppose if I were sufficiently clever, I’d make a nice animation of the stacks of books).

I’ve been doing a poor job of getting the workshopped stories off my computer and into submissions, although one did make it out and was published over the summer in Ligeia. The top two revision candidates on my stack have been taunting me in the meantime. One needs a lot of work and probably another round of workshopping, the other is a victim of perfectionism but I think I can get it out eventually.

A few new stories workshopped this year, including a novel excerpt that did get pushed into submissions, largely because it fit into a themed submission call.

My favorite reads of 2022 (now with charts and graphs!)

2022 was an atypical year for reading for me largely because it turned out that 67% of the 103¹ books I’ve read this year were research for the novel, which, among other things, meant that my numbers got skewed in interesting ways, like the fact that only 29.5% of the books were fiction (compared to  38.9–60.8% in the years that I’ve been tracking). Even with that, I did meet my goal of half of my books by women (50.2% in fact) although I fell short of my goal of 20% non-white authors with only 19% PoC authors. There will be graphs after my list of favorite books which starts below in no particular order. Not too surprisingly, it’s a bit heavy on books I read as novel research.

And now, time for charts and graphs:

Not that interesting chart of the number of books read per year

Percentage of books by women, after the first year, it’s hung out by 50%

Percent of books by genre. Fiction has been generally declining, poetry, fluctuates, but generally stays in the single digits

New Authors generally hovers around 70% ± 10%, while re-reads and authors I’ve met is in the single digits

Percentages of authors by race, even with my targeting 20% PoC authors, I still end up reading plenty of dead white men

Translations and books in Spanish. I’ve been slacking a bit on my Spanish reading, but I’ve had a big uptick in translations thanks to novel research

Two random percentages: How often I skipped the book at the top of the stack for the sake of my numbers + non-US authors

  1. I’m jumping the gun a little with this post as I’ve not quite finished books 102 and 103, but I will have them done by Saturday night so what the heck.
  2. Although truth be told, I’ve never read her in translation, but I have a hard time believing that some of her linguistic choices would translate well.
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I was feeling listless yesterday, and I started wondering about the origin of the word. My guess was that it was related tIvory Tirupati with heavy list 3o how a boat lists, meaning leaning off to the side, and I was thinking that it was connected to how a sailboat will lean to the side when under heavy wind and when it’s not leaning, it’s rarely moving.

But it turns out that this was wrong (and in more than one way). The list in listless is, in fact, “Old English lystan (verb), of Germanic origin, from a base meaning ‘pleasure’.” And this etymology, in fact, said something about my mood that I was only aware of in retrospect, and that my lack of energy was, in fact, a case of anhedonia, that is, a lack of pleasure.

But I said I was wrong in more than one way. It turns out that the other way I was wrong was in the nautical meaning of list. I had thought it was any tilt of a boat, but, in fact, it’s a tilt that occurs while the boat is at rest and is a result of uneven loading of the cargo (or, I suppose passengers), not some external force. So now I’ve learned two new things about words that turned out to be less familiar than I thought they were.

Writerly resolutions: November status

Continuing the research this month. My trThe book stacks are getting shorter, even with some new arrivalsip to the USHMM was productive and the stacks of books are dwindling, although research has generated some new books to read so the stacks have gotten a little shorter. I had hoped to get them down to nothing by the end of the year, but it looks like research will spill over into January. Meanwhile, I’m still finding useful details in the research which has yielded about a dozen pages of notes so far.

Got a new story workshopped earlier this month, it still needs some work, but there’s a little hope for it to get into submissions sometime in the new year.

Only two rejections this month, form rejections for poems (including one very old submission which I was wondering if I should give up on), which is not surprising given my low submission activity this year.

Writerly resolutions: October status

And still more research work. Next week I will spend a couple days The (slightly) shrinking piles of to read books for the novelat the USHMM research center for more primary source research. I’ve been adding occasional new reading to the stacks of books which will be evident to those closely inspecting the pictures accompanying these posts. I had hoped to be done with research reading by year’s end, but I suspect it’s going to spill over into January. I still keep stumbling across useful reading, most notably Half-American by Matthew F. Delmont which is the book on non-combat African-American soldiers in World War II I’ve wanted for at least a year or two and that was just published a couple weeks ago.

Not much progress on the story work, although I’ve ended up writing some new poetry. A couple form rejections this month along with a near-miss rejection.