Half Year State of the Art Address

It’s June! But before I get to this review thingy I just want to say thankyou to everyone who has ever stopped by. It’s so cool people are even having a passing glance over my musings, let alone taking the time to comment. You’re all awesome.  Yes I mean you. So thanks.

Back to business. I’ve been blogging 16 months (and probably my entire life except not writing it down for the internetz). I’m also one semester into the MA, which means four new stories written specifically for the course that I can send out and use for publication (fingers crossed).

Keeping me on track is Sonar 3, (a free downloadable database submission tracking system) which has been a definite aid in recording story submissions, results and guidelines and markets. Since I *know* me I know I’m infinitely better off using such a system to keep everything in order as my stories fly around the world.

As usual Facebook, Twitter and email and the Vic Writer’s Centre are keeping me busy with publication and competition opportunities. Ahem. It’s true I swear. Social media is not just all about the kittens.

I’m also trying to be a bit selective nowadays, about balancing chances of being published against winning a competition alongside how much effort for me. So I rarely submit anything in paper. The good news is that few demand printed material and prefer online or email submissions. Also not submitting so much to competitions anymore, (although a whole bunch came in through the latest Vic Writer’s Centre email). Instead I feel I’m finally developing relationships with journals so am sending them stories instead (at least when they have themes or guidelines that match what I’ve written).

Competitions are difficult to win and the cost can start to add up (if there is one), for little return and often no feedback. On the other hand, stories previously sent to competitions without winning or placing are now being published because there are editors willing to work with me on the spit and polish of them to make them really shine.

It’s amazing what an editor sees in stories I’ve lived with forever and thought good enough to perhaps win something. New eyes have found the usual punctuation issues or made me recognise what’s an entirely clear phrase is confusing to a reader (ie someone not in my head). It’s been refreshing to remember this, so I would like to thank the editors who have worked with me this year at Ricochet Magazine and 21D Magazine, Leaf and Capsule Fiction. You’ve all been professional, enthusiastic and sensitive too.

Regarding competitions: there are the odd exceptions, however, when the opportunity seems too good or matches what I have in my hard drive. Sometimes, like they say, you need to be in it to win it. In that vein a short story was published in a collection called Pod and More Small Fiction, by Leaf Books, based in Wales. This only happened because I entered their nano short story competition and didn’t win. So sometimes not winning is also a win. Now I sound like Charlie Sheen. I’ll refrain from mentioning feline hemoglobin though:)

If I have a plan at all it’s about getting stuff published enough that it becomes a bit of thing…a possible collection type of thing and a writing resume thing. It’s also kinda like I’m working up confidence so I can feel OK about submitting my stuff to those Very Serious Academicy-type Journals, with scary peer reviewing and the like.

All this is a long game for me. I’m probably a slow writer. Or a quick writer with an easily distractable attention span and not much spare time so I need to keep plodding along, while making sure whatever I write doesn’t just sit and gather dust in the hard drive. Mean time, ideas are accumulating for a creative writing thesis component (if my results warrant) and/or perhaps novella or even novel length stuff. Which I’m a bit scared of.

Part of keeping this blog is to test my commitment to long-term writing. Yes I meander and write about all sorts of stuff here but I’ve realised the theme has always been, and will probably remain, Story. The basis unit of good TV, good books, good films or cartoons is a good story. So I’ll keep going, to get me back in writing form for thesising (yes it’s a verb) and eventually for that most novel of endeavours, producing a novel.

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