I’m not normally someone who brags about their accomplishments, but I’m going to make an exception here, because it’s been a phenomenal writing year for me and I want to celebrate that! I’ve worked really hard, persevered in the face of rejection and lack of motivation, and I have a lot to show for it at the end of 2019. And, while a lot of things in the world are not how I would like them to be, I can say with confidence that my writing is on track and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.
Part of my success story is all about persistence and taking opportunities where they arise. I have a spreadsheet of rolling submission possibilities and I use that in two ways. First of all, to prompt me to write new stories, based on themes, word counts and deadlines provided by competitions and anthology calls. But I also keep a list of publications that accept submissions of the type I write, so I have somewhere to send those stories when they get rejected.
In 2017, I made 105 submissions and got 8 acceptances. In 2018, I made 101 submissions and only got 5 acceptances. I was very happy with all of those - getting publication acceptances is not something that has diminished in its excitement value over time.
I really upped my game in 2019 and made 160 submissions. And my total acceptances to date number 22, which is very satisfying. Now, I should say that seven of those are for the same publisher, who produces drabble anthologies and basically accepts work from everyone, so I’m not sure they really count. However, you have to be accepted into one of their drabble anthologies to be able to submit to their paid short story anthologies, and I’ve also now got acceptances for two of those, so I think the drabbles were very useful groundwork (as well as a lot of fun).
One of my other tremendous satisfactions for 2019 is that I’ve sold five stories that are all several years old and have been rejected 12 or 15 times each from different places. But I don’t give up on stories often, so I just kept on sending them out there and I will finally be seeing them all in print in 2020, as long as all goes well.
I have also written about 20 entirely new short stories and flash pieces (not including all the drabbles), three of which are included in the publication acceptances. One of these is a story I’ve been wanting to write for years and never been able to get to work. And now it’s a real thing that exists in the world, albeit still requiring a lot of work to get it up to submission standard.
I had multiple writing goals at the start of 2019, one of which was to start work on a non-fiction project. This fell by the wayside fairly early on in the year, when I realised it was going to take a lot more time and effort than I had available at the time. And I don’t feel bad about that. It was too ambitious a project for 2019 but it’s still on my list, and I may come back round to it in the future. What happened instead, on the non-fiction front, was that I got caught up in the idea of making a podcast with my husband, and that has become a tremendously fun reality. We went from concept to release in three months, and now have 11 episodes recorded and six released. We’ve settled down to about 20 listeners per episode, which is way more than we expected - we have no idea who most of these people are, but we’re delighted they seem to be enjoying our show! So, that’s a whole thing I had no idea would come into being this year and it’s something I really love.
But, of course, my biggest and most exciting achievement of 2019 is the offer of a contract to publish my first novel! The novel began as a short story I wrote all the way back in October 2010. I submitted the synopsis and first three chapters to my chosen small independent press in summer of 2018 and they requested the full manuscript in August of that year. In January 2019, they came back to say they really liked it and wanted it for their list, but that they wanted me to give it another once-over to look at the pacing. I did another edit and sent it back to them at the end of June. Then, on 2 December 2019, they offered me a contract to publish!
There’s a lot that could still go awry before I actually have a copy of my book in my hands. And I’m very interested to find out what kind of contract terms they are going to offer me, as this will be entirely uncharted territory for me! But I like what I know about them, I’ve been impressed with our interactions so far, and I’m feeling very good about the whole thing at the moment. I have some very minor tweaking still to do on the manuscript, and they don’t have space in their production schedule until March, but watch this space. I’m hoping for big things on the novel front in 2020.
So, there you go! Hard work, perseverance, patience and luck has got me where I am today, and the view is awesome. Here’s to a successful 2020!