End-of-the-year Assessment

I can’t believe it’s December already. Lame, I know, since we’re all feeling that way. But I thought it would be a good time to stop lamenting how time flies and try to determine just what I’ve accomplished this year so far.

What follows may be of limited utility to you, but I encourage you to evaluate your own writing efforts in a similar manner – you may discover you’ve achieved more than you think!

Novel-length Projects

Medieval Historical Romance – Complete at 93k. I’m still tinkering with it. I sent out two queries to two agents this summer. Although both rejected it based on partials, I did get a personalized rejection from one agent. I learned the oh-so-important lesson: don’t query too soon. Since then, I’ve strengthened the beginning thanks to critiques I received through Miss Snark’s First Victim and Sharon Mayhew’s blog Random Thoughts. I got some constructive criticism and encouraging feedback through the Golden Rose Contest. And thanks to a posting on Adventures in Children’s Publishing, I found a critique partner who is helping me assess the novel with fresh eyes. It’s amazing what story elements, sentences, even words you take for granted when you’re reading something for the gazillionth time! I also took a chance and submitted my first chapter to Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest after they picked my scene for the SYTYCW scene challenge.

Goals for the upcoming year – Armed with a newly polished manuscript, I plan to query agents in earnest after the holidays. I had hoped I would be at this point this fall, but obviously that didn’t happen. If the agent search is unsuccessful, I fear I’ll have to set this project aside. *sniffle* 

Speculative Fiction 1 – This is the project at the center of the kerfuffle with my critique group last month. I’m proud of this WIP because I’ve completed two drafts this year (considering how many years it took me to finish my historical romance, this is quite an achievement). After completing the first draft, I was able to identify some issues with the story, and took steps to make some big changes, including adding a third POV character. With the second draft now complete, all the major plot points are in place. 

Goals for the upcoming year – It’s time to take this story to the next level. I’ll be revising this story mercilessly to ensure all the new elements I’ve incorporated gel. I’m still hopeful my critique group will help me strengthen the manuscript. If not, I’ll need to hunt up some beta readers. *gulp* 

Speculative Fiction 2 – I actually started this story before the one above and was 25k into it but then ran into some considerable plot roadblocks. However, after working through the other spec fic story and mulling things over in my subconscious, I now know what I need to do in order to proceed. 

Goals for the upcoming year – Finish the draft. That’s all there is to it. I’m going to have to rework some of what I already wrote and add a whole lot more. *groan* 

YA Contemporary – This was my NaNoWriMo project this year. I had wanted to write this one for awhile but my writing plate’s been pretty full. So I though NaNo would be the perfect time to jumpstart a new story. Thing is, I only got 13k words down during the month of November. But I have a rough outline for the story and look forward to working on the rest of it. Unlike my historical and speculative works, the voice was one of the first things that came together for this project. It’s also nice to be able to write something without doing a whole bunch of research first, since I’m drawing on my direct experiences growing up. 

Goals for the upcoming year – Finish the draft. I’m a little concerned at how easy this story is developing. Maybe I’m getting better or maybe I’m not pushing this story far enough. We’ll see once I have a complete draft. *sigh*

Short Story Projects

Speculative Fiction Short – I was so excited about this story. I got good feedback from my writing group and started submitting it bigtime – Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld. And got rejections for my efforts – though one editor did say: “The story is very nicely done, but I’m afraid it’s not quite right for me.” What can I say? That made me feel a teensy bit better. But I decided to hit the submission breaks, and I have been mulling over story revisions ever since. 

Goals for the upcoming year – Rework story, workshop it with my critique group, and start submitting again. *bracing for the worst* 

Speculative Fiction Flash – This originated as a prompt from my writing group. I fleshed it out and then shared it with my critique group. Everyone really liked it but thought it needed to be expanded. I didn’t agree with that. I liked it’s length and wasn’t up for creating an elaborate world to go with it. So I tinkered with it a bit and sent it off just last week. 

Goals for the upcoming year – See if I get any sort of feedback on the story from the magazine I submitted it to and identify other outlets for the piece. If nothing works out, reevaluate. *crossing fingers* 

Literary Flash – This also originated as a prompt from my writing group that I revised and shared with my critique group. I submitted it to a few places and got form rejections. Then I read it at an open-mic night, which forced me to evaluate each and every word. I made a few changes and sent it out again. This time I received a very nice personalized rejection, telling me what worked and what didn’t. And he was totally right. 

Goals for the upcoming year – Wait a few weeks, then revise with an eye to what this particular editor pointed out. Then start submitting again. *deep breath*

The Writing Life

I’ve taken ownership of my dream to write:

I started blogging on February 23, 2010. 64 posts and 64 followers later, I’m still going strong. I’ve had to make some changes, but I’m pleased with my slow but steady progress. I’ve had 18,000+ pageviews since I started (a big difference from the total on the nav bar, which only counts since May 2010).

I started tweeting (@bluemaven) in mid-March. Twitter keeps losing my old tweets but I think it’s almost 300. I have 120 followers, which is pretty good considering how picky I am in who I follow. I also don’t chat a whole bunch on twitter – just sharing links and sometimes day-to-day commentary.

140,000 – approximate word count Jan-Nov 2010 (including new WIP content, prompts with writing group, and blog posts – but not revisions). 

Goals for the Coming Year – Keep on keeping on. I want to maintain my blogging and twitter regimen. I’d also like to find a good writing conference to go to. I’m thinking RWA Nationals, but that scares the crap out of me. *shivers*

What have you accomplished this year? What are you proud of? How are you going to take your work to the next level?
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3 thoughts on “End-of-the-year Assessment

  1. Congratulations on a great year…and you have most of a month left! 🙂

    My year was full of natural disasters…UGH! But it resulted in lots of home improvements. LOL, kind of.

    I'm nost proud of an editor at HarperCollins telling me I have a lovely voice on a pb ms I am passionate about. She said she saw it as a library or scholarly book more than mass market. Now I have to figure out what that means. 😀

  2. All those rejections for the short just inspired me to get off my arse and send my stuff out.

    Try to take heart in the rejections – it means you're working the system. 🙂

  3. Sharon – that's great that the editor thought you had a wonderful voice in your PB! I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work.

    KB – yeah, sending out stuff is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I'm getting my work out there, yes. But I just wish the process was a bit more transparent so I can learn from my mistakes more quickly. Wishful thinking!

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