Year in review – 2011: Fiction writing

I didn’t do so well meeting my writing goals for 2011. I now have some idea of why that may be, but I’ll discuss that in due course. First, let me review my fiction-writing goals from 2011 and see how I measured up in reality.

My writing goals for this year included some elements that weren’t directly related to the writing of fiction. I’m going to exclude those from this review and include them where they might otherwise belong. For instance, I had goals related to my writing career, like attending a convention as a participant. But since that isn’t related to fiction-writing, I’ll include that in the conventioneering post.

1. Make 3 short fiction sales to professional markets

Well, I made 2 short fiction sales this year, but none of them were to professional markets as defined by SFWA. Both were to 40K Books in Italy and while they did a professional job of putting out the first story, their payment model is not one that makes them a professional market by SFWA standards. That aside, I’m still thrilled that I made those sales. The first of the stories, “If By Reason of Strength…” appeared at the end of September. The second story, “In the Cloud” has yet to be published.

I also had a story in the June 2011 issue of Analog this year, making it the first year that I had two stories appear in the same year. ¬†However, I sold the story to Analog back in 2010 so that one doesn’t count toward my goals for this year. Thus, I made no sales to professional markets this year and didn’t meet this goal

Part of the reason, I think, is that I only managed to make a dozen submissions this year, far less than what I made last year. And the reason I only made 12 submissions: I didn’t write nearly as much as in the previous year. ¬†There were a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Limited time. That’s part of it anyway. 2011 was a busy year in many respects. Also, we had our second baby in August and that consumed more time.
  2. What time I did have for writing I often used poorly or inefficiently.
  3. I focused too much on other things like blogging
  4. I allowed myself to get too bogged down with one story. This consumed a great deal of the writing time I did use, and it also shook my confidence a bit when I found I couldn’t tackle the story.
  5. I lost focus of what my actual goal was: to focus on writing short fiction. At times throughout the year, I allowed myself to consider writing a novel, something that I now know I don’t really want to do.

I hope that I have learned from this and when I post my fiction writing goals for 2011 in the next couple of days, you should see something that is more focused and looks somewhat different than last year.

I had aimed to write 12 new stories in 2011. I managed to complete only 2 stories, both of them very short. See all of the reasons listed above.

2. Earn at least 1 positive review for a story

I actually did make this goal. “Take One for the Road” in the June 2011 Analog received a couple of mediocre reviews and a couple of pretty good ones. “If By Reason of Strength” had a number of postiive reviews on Amazon.

That said, this was a bad goal because it is completely and utterly outside of my control. A positive review might be a reflection that my stories are improving, but it is up to the whim of the reviewer to even decided whether or not to review the story, let alone give it a positive review. Reviews might be a measure of perceived quality, but since they are completely outside my control, I realize now that this was a bad goal from the start.

In the next couple of days, I’ll be posting my fiction-writing goals for 2012. I’m looking for more consistency in output and some specific targets that I think are achievable. Stay tuned for that one.

Next time, I’ll review my blogging in 2011.