Sunday, April 08, 2007

1st Quarter: Taking stock

It seems to me, as the first quarter of the year has passed, that it is time to take stock. How has the year been so far, in figures( as recorded on our WritingStats2007 blog)?


I have submitted 94 stories to various places. These are not 94 different and unique stories, often it is the same stories sent to different places, either simultaneously or resubmitting them elsewhere when they are rejected. Here's a rough breakdown of where I sent them: 68 entries to story competitions, 1 entry to a 6-minute play competition, 1 entry to a film script comp, 22 stories submitted to open calls for submissions (not competitions), and 2 stories recorded as audio files for an Australian magazine that is producing an issue on CD.

The good news is: 8 hits, which means that either a story has been accepted for publication or it has made it to a significant place in a competition. So: 3 stories accepted for publication, and I won 2nd prize in a flash fiction competition and made 2 shortlists and 2 longlists.

The not-so-good news is that I have received 26 rejections - 16 from competitions, 2 from print magazines, 2 from online magazines and 6 from flash fiction publications.

Financial the picture is thus: Spent £ 326, earned £100 (prize money). So I am in the red to the tune of £226.

When I look at it all like this I wonder why on earth I am sending out SO many stories. What am I trying to prove by this? Does it satisfy me in some way? The rejections hurt less when you know there are still 70 possibles out there that might come through. But is it worth it? I seem to always be holding out for the next competition result, the next deadline.

Looking at the 1st Quarter from another angle, it has been extremely productive. Through the WriteWords group's Flash Fiction challenges I have written 14 new and oftentimes bizarre flash stories. The other online writing group I belong to, the Fiction Workhouse, has provided me with wonderful critique on two stories so far, and I have learned from critiquing others' work, as well as enjoying having a forum for celebrating acceptances and group commiseration on rejections.

I have a wonderful writing group here in Israel which gives me so much support, it really keeps me going, as well as helping me immensely with my writing. And I have just founded a new short story group here in Jerusalem which is a little slow to get off the ground but I have high hopes!

So, should this be enough for me? I keep thinking about halting my submissions and not sending off anything else. But I just can't quite do it. Why don't I wait until I have a story I absolutely adore, and which I think is pretty much there, and then send it off? I feel a little like I am racing towards something. Is this a throwback from journalism days when I needed deadlines? I imagine feeling quite lost without "somewhere" to send something to. But perhaps that is part of the writing life. Writing is about writing. Sometimes it's very hard to remember that. And very hard to just do it.


Sara said...

Well it's for you alone to decide what is best for you. I'm the direct opposite of you actually, I am excited if I have 1 or 2 things out at any one time, and don't submit much at all. It does sound tho' as if you are focussing a wee bit hard on results, and possibly time spent writing without a deadline or comp in mind could produce some more relaxed words. Then again, it could be that you respond well to the stress of due dates and thus produce your best work as a result of that. Again, only you can tell.
What is your motivation for sending out so much? What is your motivation for considering stopping submissions?

I have toyed with the idea of joining WriteWords for ages, but have been hesitant because of the cost. Would you recommend it? I'd like to get involved in a writing group, apart from the occasional session with you and Vanessa I don't have any writing feedback/contact/friends (sniff, sniff...)

TitaniaWrites said...

Hi Sara,
I would definitely recommend WriteWords, the Flash Fiction group is a lovely group, lots of feedback, really inspiring, very active. Worth the money! Not so sure about the Short Story group, I don't think they are quite as active.

And thanks for your comments re my submission issues. I really do need to think about it more, as you say I might work better with the stress of deadlines. Hmmm....