It’s been very quiet on this front of late; I’ve had a break from writing recently, mostly thanks to a wee bout of depression, so now I’m feeling reflective and hopeful and want to take a look at what I’ve been writing for the past year, and what I’m going to write in 2014.
Last year I attempted Camp NaNo for the first time (NaNoWriMo in the summer) and managed to write a 62,000 word novel in just over three weeks. This first draft is called Salt and I hope to self-publish the finished book later this year, probably in the summer. I intend to sit down today and write a schedule for finishing and publishing it, which I’ll be expecting everyone to hold me to!
I also attempted NaNoWriMo in November, with a novel set in the same world as Salt, but stress/depression and a lack of planning meant I gave up at about 18,000 words. I worked on a second draft of Salt for the rest of the month, but without pressuring myself to reach a certain word count.
2014I hope to finish draft 2 of Salt very soon and then redraft again. Ideally I want to publish it this year, and intend to write the first drafts of at least two more books(!). That said, I’m okay with not reaching this goal. Salt is my primary mission, and if I meet the others too, that’s a bonus. Short Stories
This was not the year of the short story for me. I had intended to finish and publish a collection called Recipe with Jacky Hillary, which has been in the works for a year and a half now, but work commitments keep knocking us back. We’ve decided instead to break it up into smaller collections and publish them as chapbooks, through our own independent publishing house. More on that soon!
Over the summer I ran a short story writing group at Manchester Craft & Design Centre. This was really good fun, and a wonderful space to work in, though sadly the turnout was very poor and technically speaking, the group wasn’t worth my time to run. Still, I got a few good pieces of writing out of it, and I hope that those who did attend the group got the same. My regular writing group, CAKE at Nexus Art Café, is still going and has seen some ups and downs this year, but overall it’s been fun and engaging to run. The only downside is that I seem to spend more time preparing for it these days, and never get to do any writing of my own at the sessions.
Despite the deceleration in writing short stories towards the end of the year, I started a short course run by Comma Press and led by short story author Anneliese Mackintosh. This has been equal parts fascinating and very, very difficult. The first three meetings coincided with my mood plummeting, so that I had no interest in writing, in reading the material, or in socialising with the group. These things finally seem to be picking up, which is encouraging, but unfortunately I missed the deadline for Comma’s latest New Writing anthology and will probably have to wait ages now for another chance to submit!
The one thing I do have to brag about in terms of short stories is the quickfire publication of three chapbooks in the summer; Humping the Boonies, Three Broken Ribs and Four Sleeves. These were thrown together in a couple of weeks for Mancstercon, a new indie small press comic con, and to my delight some have actually sold! I’ll (finally) be making the ebooks available next week, but you can buy a hard copy from me, or from Travelling Man in Manchester.
Humping the Boonies is my first collection of flash fiction (hopefully first of several!), Three Broken Ribs collects work by members of CAKE.shortandsweet, and Four Sleeves features stories about monsters, in many different forms. Comic reviewer Stephen Walker was kind enough to review Humping the Boonies and rate me as his favourite short story writer of the year. I wonder how many short stories he reads 😀
Oof, that was a lot. I’m not convinced this year will be ‘the year of the short story’ either, but I intend to try a bit harder to get some down on paper. There’s the collection with Jacky Hillary for a start, and I’ve made a pledge to submit at least one story and one poem each month. For these purposes, I’ve started a google group called Submitment Issues, which anyone is welcome to join, to keep track of deadlines and encourage myself to submit more.
It’s well-documented now, but with the help and encouragement of Rebecca Audra Smith, this was the year I started writing and performing poetry. I still feel rather insecure about my poetry, in part because the critique site I normally use has been very discouraging in a lot of ways. On the other hand, performing has been fun and challenging, and the community has been very welcoming.
I still have an awful lot to write before I have much confidence in my writing, not to mention before I get good, but I’ve been making myself submit a poem here and there, and I was lucky enough to have Wishbone accepted by a new online poetry magazine, The Hour of Lead.
I hope to write a lot more poetry this year. It’s the medium that comes most easily to me at the moment, to the point that I struggle to remember how short stories work. I have plans for a couple of chapbooks, and as I mentioned, I intend to submit a lot more work than I have done.
-Finishing Camp NaNo
-Performing at Stirred Poetry for the first time
-Getting a poem published with The Hour of Lead
-Publishing three chapbooks
-Blog more often
-Publish a poetry chapbook
-Publish the Recipe chapbooks
-Get some proofreading/editing work
-Write another first draft
-Get an agent