2016 Retrospective and Such

I’ve fallen into one of the many trappings of most writers, which is to write up a “year in review” blog post to bridge the gap between one year and the next. My professors from teacher’s college will be pleased to know that I actually like this as a reflective practice; taking stock of what you’ve accomplished is important, particularly with a creative career like writing, where your success is a combination of how much work you put in and sheer, blind luck. Since I’m self-deprecating to a fault, I’m always leery of counting off my successes in public forum, but I’m going to do it this year, for two reasons: 1) This year was a significant level-up for my writing, and it’s important to be proud of things like that, and 2) It might serve as an encouraging lesson that working your ass off in this career might actually pay off.

So here’s the unbelievable (to me) list of what I accomplished in 2016:

  • Five short stories published in Solarpunk Press, Creepy Campfire Quartlery, The Breakroom Stories, Third Flatiron Anthologies, and The 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure (that last one got an awesome review from Kirkus, and includes a bunch of well-known and excellent writers)
  • One additional short story sold to Sunvault, which is slated to be published in spring 2017
  • Two award nods for my short story “Matters of Taste”: an Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future and an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards (that list will be printed in May)
  • Invited to join the programming team for Can*Con, and helped organize an excellent conference in September, where I appeared on panels and read from YEAG (registration is open for next year, by the way)
  • Became a regular contributor to Black Gate Magazine, where I continue to post reviews and the odd article about the crazy life of the writer
  • Accepted into the Ed Greenwood Group; to date I have one short story slated for publication in the Folklore: The Affliction setting (probably next year) and a second story in Stormtalons, with invitations to continue submitting more work
  • Invited to join the Narwhals critiquing group (you folks are awesome)
  • Attended three other cons: Norwescon in Seattle, World Fantasy in Columbus, and Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston (as a panelist)
  • Received personalized feedback from a number of big markets and agents (which is actually a level up, since normally you get form letters or no response)
  • As one of my novels makes the submission rounds, I drafted a space opera novel (to be edited in 2017) and a shitload of other short stories (increased productivity is key)

I’m pretty sure that’s everything, and looking at that list amazes me. Can*Con, for example, was only four months ago, and I feel like I’ve done a ton in just that short amount of time. The big takeaway for me from 2016 is that I genuinely feel like my writing is improving, and that I can look at something I’ve written and know whether it’s done and publishable, still needs more work, or needs to be thrown in the Heap. That ties into feeling more confident as a writer, which means that when I attend events and meet other creative people (which I’m doing a lot more now) I feel more comfortable and casual, especially when I receive the dreaded question, “So what do you work on?” I’m pretty sure the anxiety of associating with other writers, especially ones that are further along the success track than you, never actually goes away, but it gets easier the more you realize that even someone like David Mack is just another human being trying to succeed.

But the important thing, fellow writers, is that if you keep putting in energy and effort, you’ll see results. This time last year my list of accomplishments for 2015 was slim compared to now, and that’s because of the amount of energy, time and focus I was putting into my writing (and other factors, but that’s a different story). I’m going into 2017 with the most confidence I think I’ve ever felt as a writer, and my hope is that confidence will lead to better writing and more publications. So if you haven’t accomplished what you wanted to last year, hang in there and keep working your ass off – things will come together!

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