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!