Saturday, January 07, 2012

2012... calmer? Maybe.

I'd like to first mention that I am writing this blog post with a fever of 100 degrees, so it may seem a little muddled, for which I apologise. But having this lurgy has at least meant I have time, sitting in bed, to contemplate, (and, perhaps, hallucinate, who knows?) and I want to record some thoughts. Which I may entirely rescind later...

The sharp-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I've changed my blog design. The "I'm so tired" logo seemed appropriate to me the minute I saw it. I am. 2011 was a busy year, with many ups and a few serious downs. Very very busy. I had about 20 stories and poems published, a record for me, I think. Which was just wonderful, I got (and get) immense amounts of gratification at every acceptance, which comes after many, many rejections, as every writer will testify. Some of the stories were published as a result of me being asked to submit something, some were commissions, both of which are quite new concepts to me and also very gratifying. To start the year with a story in Nature and end it in New Scientist is a thrill that will take some beating!

But the thing is, with submitting, with having quite a lot of work "out there", comes stress. The "will they, won't they"? waiting for answers, checking websites for competition results, has become something bordering obsessive. I'm not one of those who sends work out and then forgets. I can't seem to forget.

The other thing is that when I am writing something new, part of me is thinking "Well, where can I send this?" And that's not necessarily what I want to be at the forefront of my mind.

So, this year, I am changing tack. I am not going to be submitting short stories anywhere, with one exception. I will send a story to the BBC International Short Story Award. That's it. Really. Part of it has to do with the two issues I've just mentioned, and part with the previous blog post about China Mieville and mystery. I'm going to hold back a bit. I'm working on a new collection of science-inspired stories and I think it could be a good idea, if it does find a publisher, if a certain number of them haven't been previously published individually. Perhaps it will allow me to think of the collection as an entity, rather than each story as a discrete object.

Anyway, this is a new thing for me. I've been submitting lots and lots of stories every year for the past 4 years or so (for our own interest, Vanessa Gebbie and I kept a blog throughout 2007 detailing all our submissions, acceptances and rejections - and I made 155 submissions that year, that's almost one every two days...). It's time to experiment with a different method. See what happens. If I am asked to submit somewhere, then I will. But I won't send out work pro-actively. I already have about five stories scheduled to be published this year and some that I submitted last year that are still "pending", so there is potential gratification to be had.

What I will be submitting is poetry. I am very much a beginner poet (even writing that makes me feel silly, how can I be a poet?) and I am dipping my toe in this completely new world. I took two poetry classes last term and am carrying on with one this term, and have been really enjoying it although very daunted. The more I read, the less daunted I become, though - and fabulous writer friends like Sue Guiney, Sarah Salway and Vanessa, all of whom write prose and poetry, are very inspiring.

This is the one major change I've made this year - smaller changes already instituted include deleting my stats counters for this blog and my website, another source of obsession that seems unhelpful in the extreme. It's lovely to see who visits here and from where, of course, but do I need that information?

I have been getting some great invitations recently to do quite a lot of teaching this year - flash fiction workshops, mostly, in various locations, and a science-inspired fiction workshop, so maybe this will be my year of teaching? I'd like that, there's nothing that beats the joy on the face of someone who has never written flash fiction before after proudly reading out their first story! (More news about workshops coming soon). And there are some bits of Big News that I hope to be able to unveil shortly too... but for now I'm keeping shtum.

So, I wish you all a very happy 2012, whatever resolutions you have made or not made. May it be a year of creativity, fulfilment, energy and passion!

15 comments:

Miriam Drori said...

Happy 2012, Tania! I hope all your plans come to fruition.

alisonwells said...

I enjoyed reading all about your plans and a look at last year. 20 stories published was quite an amazing figure! I look forward to hearing all about the workshops, I've got a plan forming of escaping this Emerald Isle for a jaunt involving something like.. a course on flash fiction, if I can get a bit of funding maybe. So I'm all ears. Oh and do get well soon, unless you are mining your fever for mind bending fiction.

annie clarkson said...

it is tiring submitting, I don't submit much because of this... your plans for 2012 sound wonderful... collection, teaching and some mysterious news...! Happy new year x

Tania Hershman said...

Miriam, thanks, and yours too!

Alison, oooh, if we can entice you over... Will let you know. And I think some of my fiction's mind-bending enough when I'm not feverish, although that's quite a good idea!

Annie, I think it's time I chilled out on the submitting, you are sensible. Happy New Year to you too, looking forward to hearing more about your news too. xx

Sue Guiney said...

This is all so interesting to me. We've discussed some of this before, but I now wonder if it has to do with this particular point in our careers. We've both been "out there" (ie publishing regularly, books out etc) for 5 or 6 years and now feel...well, how we feel, ie frustrated, unsure, annoyed. I feel a blog post coming on....

Tania Hershman said...

Sue, it is interesting, isn't it? You are more "out there" than me in terms of books and variety of forms and readerships etc..., but perhaps it is some sort of evolution, where we are getting to, a wanting to pull back a bit. I want to read that blog post...!

jillwidner said...

Really enjoyed the honest-talk-with-self quality of this post. I know the obsession you're writing about. Glad you've made a plan.

Tania Hershman said...

Thanks, Jill, sometimes that's what I do on the blog, have an honest talk-with-self! And we all know about plans...

Lauri said...

First get better soon. It must be 2012-itis, I'm feeling crap today too. (though I see you wrote this Saturday).

I was much like you with submitting. Obsessive. I think it's a bit addictive. Even rejections- if you can believe it. I'd be like- "Oh yeah? I'll show you!" Then I started to think about what was more effective for me. Yes short stories in mags get your name out there, but I wasn't sure if that was so important anymore. For me short stories were a bit like crap sparklers- a fantastic bit of excitement and then just a yucky black wire and you're back to zero and searching for the next sparkler.

I think we all need to evaluate our path as the path changes. I think you're spot on to keep your stories to yourself if you're planning a collection. I also think your flash is so near to poetry it seems natural you're going that way.

And I like your new blog look very much.

I know if your 2012 is the teaching year or the poetry year or the keep silent and work year- it will be a success. Good luck!

Sara Crowley said...

Happy creative writey lovely marvellous healthy wonderful new year to you!

XX

marthawilliams.org said...

Hope you're feeling better!

Sounds like you have great plans afoot -- I won't be alone in looking forward to seeing your new story collection, so best of luck with that.

I hear you re: wondering where things will be published while writing; I felt the same last year after only 30-ish subs. Interested to hear you listed out your subs and acceptances, was thinking of keeping a diary this year just to see. Will head over and look at what you guys did.

Good luck with everything in 2012 (and v well done on New Scientist and Nature -- very cool!)

whitecorp said...

It does suck to feel under the weather. Drink lots of fluid, worry less. A new year brings forth new beginnings and fresh hopes. Stay happy. Take care and god bless. Peace.

Rachel Fenton said...

I hope the change does you the power of good - look forward to more poetry prose from you.

Jamie Guiney said...

Great blog Tania! It prompts one of the questions I've always wanted to know from other writers - just how many places do you send a single story to, when it's just been finished?
Jamie.

chillcat said...

I hope you manage to send the fever on its way swiftly.

I also suffer from check-on-submissions-itis and blog-stat-check-itis as well. It was so bad last year that I was relieved at two points when my phone broke, and then when I went camping and had no reception in Corsica. For once I didn't give a stuff about my stories!

I think it is wise of you to slow down with submissions - it can get totally out of hand, and even colour the writing process itself.

Congrats on such a productive year however!