The first hint we got about M A N I A was the color purple.
I sent another story off to a call for submissions today; the Strange Economics anthology. This story’s idea is one I’ve been batting around since a few years ago, when I worked at an economics think tank. It was fun to get a chance to apply that idea to a speculative fiction setting, so I’m very glad I came across this call and had a chance to set the story down.
I currently have a list of three more anthology calls to which I would like to submit stories, as well as a few magazine open submission periods that I plan to try for existing stories. After those are cleared off I think I might take a small break from actively hunting open calls in favor of working on ideas that have been sidelined, and on longer story forms. I have a good backlog of finished short stories that I can submit here and there as seems appropriate, but writing stories from raw ideas instead of shaping them to a specific call will be a nice change of pace.
I spent a chunk of this weekend making a round of edits and making outlines for revisions on a novel draft I originally wrote in 2008. Hopefully this will be the year that draft reaches some kind of conclusion! It’s been living on flash drives and external hard drives for a decade and I’d like to let it get some fresh air this year.
I sent two stories off today: “Screens” for the reprint call at Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction special issue, and one I wrote in 2016 that hasn’t found a home yet to Radiant Crown Publishing’s Hex Gunslinger: A Weird Western Anthology.
The Uncanny call is also open to new stories, nonfiction essays, and poetry. I’m looking forward to seeing the final outcome of this call; the “[X group] Destroy Science Fiction” issues are always good. The reprint call is being edited by Judith Tarr, an author I like and admire, so I’m excited to see what she thinks of “Screens.”
The story I sent in to Hex Gunslinger was originally written for a different “weird West” call. I love sub-genres like this, and the creativity of the spec fic community that goes into building them out. It’s so much fun to play in the different sub-genre sandboxes.
It’s exciting when this happens! My submission to Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores got pulled from the slush for further consideration. We’ll see what happens from here, but it’s a nice way to start off the year in subs.
The “soft acceptance” I posted about last month was for this anthology about cryptids; I’d planned to write more about it once the contract was taken care of, but the editors at Dragon’s Roost Press can’t do that until the exact amount of payment is confirmed, and that depends on this Kickstarter!
This is going to be a double volume, with one focusing on land-based cryptids and the other on sea/sky/otherwise-based cryptids. My story, “Many Winters,” is about Le Nain Rouge, a cryptid figure of the region around Detroit, Michigan.
Please check out the Kickstarter and see if it’s something you might be interested in supporting. Right now it’s about a quarter of the way to being funded, which is an awesome start, but there’s still a ways to go.
I’m excited for this to come together and to write some more about “Many Winters” as things move along!
Like any good person setting themselves up for failure, I made a list of goals for 2018!
- Complete one item per month from a list of boring but necessary “adulting” tasks
- Back on the regular gym visits train (if I go a certain number of times per month, my job offers a small payback toward my gym membership)
- Keep up daily writing on the same parameters
- Complete another novel draft
- Donate $20/month to a crowdfunding campaign
Also drinking more water, but that’s a constant vague aim in the back of my mind. Human bodies are so needy.
My “daily writing on the same parameters” is the easiest to achieve, because I’ve had some form of daily writing goal for several years now. The exact parameters have shifted over time, from a strict “500 words per day no matter what” to a more flexible approach that takes life into account a little better. Editing, doing research, blog posts (yes!), and hunting for markets all count as “writing” currently, in the sense that I can check off a day as completed if I do any of those instead of producing new words. 500 remains the general goal, but on very busy days, if I’m sick, and under other circumstances, even a sentence will do.
When I’m traveling, I aim for a solid paragraph each day, enough to keep my commitment to myself and keep the wheels turning. A full page or a couple pages is even better, of course. Travel writing is done by hand in a notebook; for a while I was able to do more while traveling by writing on my phone, but unfortunately typing on my phone aggravates the tendons in my dominant wrist. It’s not worth it to get more words out if it leads to not being able to type at all for a few days.
The daily writing can be on any project. I’ve tried assigning days, or trying to only work on one thing until it’s completed, and that doesn’t work for me. At any given time I have several short stories and some fan fiction going, and I want to keep all of those moving while also giving more attention to longer projects this year. 2018: the year of getting my novel ideas corralled and fleshed out instead of stuck as synopses and outlines.
In the goal list I say finishing “another” novel draft because I’ve had one complete draft since 2008. Ten years! Last January I did a writing retreat weekend at the beach with a printed-out copy of the draft and marked it up for revisions. Then I stuck it in a drawer for the rest of 2017 and kept promising myself I would dedicate a solid two weeks to revising it. That never happened. Different approach this year! More flexibility, again!
Revising and reworking a full-sized novel draft needs more focused, steady time than a daily writing practice that has to be fit in around life. What I’m going to do is take one or two weekend mornings each month and go to the quiet room at a nearby library. The quiet room is set up with desks and plugs for laptops, and everyone minds their own business and is, well, quiet. I’ll take a three-hour block and do however much work I can over that time. Drafting, for me, can be done in bits and pieces strung out over however many days or weeks it takes, but revising and rewriting is sit-down work that needs a dedicated block. I’m going to carve out those blocks this year, even if it’s only once a month, making sure to leave options open for more.
And if it doesn’t work, then I’ll try something else! Reminding myself that it’s okay to be flexible, that it’s not quitting unless you actually quit, is one of my major personal-growth points. I feel pretty good about this approach to writing this year.
Here’s my list of movies seen in 2017. I’d like to do more reviews or just basic discussion of the movies I see in 2018, similar to what I do with books. It’s a writing blog but it isn’t only a writing blog, as it’s already made clear to me with the proportions of posts.
16 films behind the jump, double asterisk (**) for a solid rec.