In which I reflect on my writing progress during the course of 2016, aided as ever by by my trusty Google Sheets Writing Log.
I started off 2016 by doing regular monthly writing updates. These were mostly to give me a chance to reflect on my progress each month, but also for anyone else who likes to read about other people’s writing experiences (which I certainly do). I didn’t keep up with those monthly updates, so this will be a summary of the year. It’ll probably be a bit lengthy, so there’s a tl:dr version below.
The tl:dr version
I started off 2016 wanting to get something published – ideally a new short story, and in a magazine. I didn’t quite manage that, but I did have some pretty big wins:
- The Tales To Terrify podcast adapted my short story Graves back in May;
- That same episode was nominated for and then won the 2016 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction Story!
- Tales To Terrify then went on to adapt both Bunnies and Strawberries;
- In August a publisher called Darkwater Syndicate approached me about including my story Colder Still in the next volume of their Shadows & Teeth anthology (due out April 2017)
So, technically I got published – and won a frikkin’ award – but these are all old stories, published several years ago. I’m still keen to get some new stories out there.
Progress-wise, my word counts for the year are below. Not too shabby, but down on last year. There was a major slump from May to September (mostly due to Winter and restless kinderbeasts). I also finally worked out that I don’t have to write every single day. Consequently I’ve started giving myself Saturday mornings off, and it’s generally helped to keep the momentum up and stop the early mornings from becoming too much of an endurance test.
6,539 words written – 34,146 words edited
January is covered in more detail here, but was by far my most productive month of the year, mainly due to some epic editing sessions. Also started two new stories:
- Intersection (science fiction, completed finalish draft)
- 1-UP (science fiction, finished second draft)
- Come out, come out, wherever you are … (horror, wrote first draft)
- Graves (slight rewrite)
- The Slow Bomb (science fictionish, wrote first draft, completed second)
Submissions: first submission of the year was The Beginnening, a Douglas Adams/Guardians Of The Galaxy inspired science fiction short story that went to Tor.com just before they stopped taking unsolicited submissions. I’m still waiting to hear back …
3,931 words written – 19,784 words edited
February is also covered in more detail here. Pretty good month. One new story:
- Come out, come out, wherever you are … (completed second and third drafts)
- Future Proof (science fiction, wrote first draft, completed second, started on third)
- The Slow Bomb (completed third draft)
Submissions: I submitted The Slow Bomb to Uncanny Magazine (they rejected it about 10 days later).
794 words written – 22,781 words edited
More detail on March here. Not a big writing month (just some new content for Intersection) but lots of editing:
- Future Proof (completed third draft)
- Intersection (rewrite)
- The Slow Bomb (partial rewrite)
- 1-UP (completed final edit)
- Come out, come out, wherever you are … (completed final edit)
March was marred by several nights of poor sleep (likely due to Autumn setting in) and various instances of the kids getting up early and interrupting my morning shift.
Submissions: I submitted The Slow Bomb to Strange Horizons (they rejected it about a month later).
4,732 words written – 14,183 words edited
For April I decided to write a short story for Alien Day, which took place on April 26. Sometimes it’s good to have self-imposed deadline.
- Intersection (continued rewrite)
- Thrash (horror story, started first draft)
- The Eighth Passenger (Alien inspired story, wrote three drafts and then published)
- Future Proof (continued third draft)
Submissions: I submitted 1-UP to Clarkesworld (they came back fairly quickly with a rejection).
3,463 words written – 5,675 words edited
May saw lots of oversleeping. I was a little burned out by the flurry of activity on The Eighth Passenger, and was also finding that most of the stories I had been working on since the start of the year simply weren’t working.
- Future Proof (continued third draft)
- Where We Belong (novel based on Graves, wrote first draft of a random chapter that I was suddenly inspired to write)
- Intersection (continued rewrite)
- The Lost Box (pre-teen sci-fi adventure novel, began first draft)
Submissions: I submitted an older story, Drones, to Abyss & Apex Magazine back in November 2015, and received a rejection this month (though they were nice enough to mention that it was “well received”). I also submitted The Slow Bomb to The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and received a rejection the same day (!)
4,828 words written – 3,207 words edited
June saw more oversleeping, mostly caused by restless nights for both myself and my youngest.
- The Lost Box (continued writing first draft)
- Behind You (horror, started writing first draft)
- Colder Still (began a re-edit)
Submissions: I submitted 1-UP to Lightspeed (and received a rejection 6 days later). Also sent The Slow Bomb to Liminal Stories (rejected 5 days later). This was also the month that Darkwater Syndicate approached me, somewhat to my astonishment, about Colder Still.
1,151 words written – 11,096 words edited
July was beset by a cold, but also saw me finally taking the plunge with Scrivener (thanks to the long-awaited iOS version being released). In addition, I decided to try and beat Winter by setting up a writing desk in the front room, enabling me to sit somewhat closer to the heater.
- Colder Still (completed re-edit)
- Behind You (completed first draft, started second)
1,940 words written – 1,812 words edited
August was where the slump really hit its trough. I was sick for the first week or so of the month, and inspiration was as lacking as a set of morals at a Republican National Convention. However, that was all about to change …
- Behind You (minor tinkering)
- Future Proof (minor tinkering)
- Between the Devil and the Comfy Chair (began writing first draft)
Submissions: I submitted 1-UP to Red Sun Magazine (and received a rejection 2 months days later). Also submitted Come out, come out … to the Shadows & Tall Trees anthology (rejected 2 weeks later).
2,702 words written – 3,753 words edited
The tail end of August, with Winter finally starting to bugger off, brought with it the first waft of inspiration for a new bunch of stories. The two I worked on during September have come to be two of my favourites to date. I just hope some friendly editors somewhere find themselves agreeing ….
- Between the Devil and the Comfy Chair (completed first draft)
- ‘Til Death (wrote first draft)
No submissions this month, but September was when I found out that the Tales To Terrify podcast adaption of Graves had been nominated for a Parsec. Coincidentally, this was also when I found out that Tales To Terrify had actually adapted Graves (which happened in May, following some correspondence back in 2012). September was the same month that Tales To Terrify adapted Bunnies.
3,825 words written – 15,892 words edited
The words were definitely beginning to flow again here, with yet another brand new story, about a creepy fairground ride, hitting its first draft. I also decided to publish Come out, come out, wherever you are … as a free Halloween read.
- Between the Devil and the Comfy Chair (completed second and third draft)
- ‘Til Death (completed first draft)
- Where It Stops … (started writing first draft)
5,426 words written – 3,711 words edited
The election of Trump over in the US hit me pretty hard. I kept getting up, but there were two weeks where I barely even attempted to write. In the end, however, that didn’t stop an idea for yet another new story taking root.
- Where It Stops … (completed first draft, started second)
- When The Darkness Comes (completed first draft, started second)
7,063 words written – 10,772 words edited
My best writing month for a long, with barely a day missed. I continued with my new stories, but was also hit with a further burst of inspiration for my pre-teen adventure novel and wrote another 5,000 words towards the first draft. Also, started yet another new story.
- When The Darkness Comes (completed third draft)
- Where It Stops … (completed second draft)
- The Lost Box (continued first draft)
- Behind You (attempted rewrite)
- In The Night. In The Dark (horror, completed writing first draft)
Submissions: submitted ‘Til Death to Apex Magazine. No update yet. This was also the month that Tales To Terrify featured Strawberries on their podcast.
So quickly running through the above, here’s what I worked on this year:
- 12 stories in total, plus a decent chunk of a novel
- 2 of those stories I self-published this year (links above)
- 2 were submitted to various markets (and rejected)
- 4 of the newer ones I am extremely pleased with (and am just waiting for some suitable markets to open for submissions)
- 4 of the older stories still need work, but they’re almost there …
So, even though much of the year felt like the writing equivalent of pulling teeth it still came out pretty good. Bring on 2017!