December 30, 2010 by Renee
I’ve learned recently that recapping where you were and how far you’ve come in a year does great things for one’s state of mind. Doesn’t hurt the ego either. Unless of course you didn’t progress or slipped a little, then it’s just called wallowing in your misery. Stop it.
So, as of January 1, 2010 I had no finished manuscripts. I wasn’t querying agents. I was trying to decide where to go and how to get there. I had four manuscripts that were done, but only in rough draft. I had two short stories published in Menage-a-20, and I was tearing my hair out trying to balance writing with the daycare I was running, my kids, and just life in general.
In March I said enough of this shit and stopped the daycare after accepting a job freelancing for a local newspaper. However, I kept a couple of part time kids because I’m a cautious sort. The newspaper was shortlived due to changes in management or some bullshit like that and I quickly used the experience to land a page on Examiner.com. During that time I finished a manuscript and began querying and started a new novel and finished that rough draft in about May-ish. Aaaand I started another.
Now, money was tight so I kept my eyes open for other writing opportunities. And in July, while editing my second manuscript and preparing it for the world, I began working for Demand Studios. It’s a paycheck and they do pay fairly well compared to what else is out there. I’ll leave it there. It’s great writing experience even if a tad on the frustrating side at times.
In September I had my short story “Yet he’s Here” accepted into an anthology with Author Mike Ink, publication date is still undetermined, sorry. Examiner also gave me a national page during this time, which I was really excited to have. I have met the most amazing and talented authors because of these two pages. I can tell you, no matter how little they pay (and in my experience they don’t pay much at all) these two pages have been well worth the work I’ve put into them in other ways. I even got to interview two of my favorite authors, Virginia Henley and Robert Munsch. Plus, I met other Canadian authors I may not have discovered otherwise.
Anyway, October was a time to kill myself trying to build this damn platform. I pulled out an old manuscript and another writer (thank you, Carlos) was kind enough to read it for me and shocked me by saying it wasn’t crap. Seriously, you could have knocked me over with a feather, that’s how shocked I was. So, with that great encouragement I was able to get Once Bitten ready for agents and publishers. Have to change that title though. Ideas?
I also began writing for Suite101 in late October. This was my turning point. I wasn’t able to work on new projects because I was just trying to keep up with these sites which were a) a way to pay the bills and b) to help build my platform. The problem was the platform was getting so damn heavy I couldn’t hold it up anymore. So, Suite101 went to the back burner. I still write for them, but not as often. Examiner went down to two articles a week (sometimes less) and I made Demand Studios my full time job. Of course, I still have daycare kids before and after school. Just in case.
Recently I was given a feature or column, (not really sure what to call it) in Open Book Toronto, based on the challenges that I do each month in OFW. This was really exciting. I love this magazine and its content is alway fresh, interesting and fun to read. So when I submitted my idea (without the intention of writing it, but sort of hoping they’d offer) and received the email that they loved it and would like to see what I come up with, well I almost danced. Almost.
January 15th the first challenge will run. I’ll post a link for everyone. And the writing challenges are for everyone, by the way. Not just Canadian writers.
Among scores of short stories, and a failed attempt by myself and other members of OFW to launch another anthology, I also collaborated with Henry Lara on a novella (is that right Henry?) based on a Puerto Rican Legend and written backward, titled Por Amour, which we submitted to Writers of the Future. Our fingers are crossed. That was probably the most difficult writing experience I’ve had yet. Sharing your voice with someone else is NOT easy and if Henry weren’t such an easy going sort, I don’t know that we’d have finished. I tend to get…irritable.
So, as of today, I have three manuscripts currently making the rounds and three in various stages of editing. I have way too many projects outlined and three in various stages of first draft. Three must be my magic number or something. There are other manuscripts floating around, but I don’t know if they’ll ever see the light of day. I began the year with about 20 or so short stories and now have more than 60. Of course, some of these are crap, but damn, I was on a roll.
I am extremely proud at how hard I’ve worked to get to this point and this year has been an extremely productive year for me. The best part is that I’ve finally (mostly) balanced my writing (dare I call it a career?) with family and regular life. I’ve worked to improve my writing and the improvement is definitely evident when I look over rough drafts from last year and compare them to drafts I’ve just finished. I’ve also busted my ass to improve this platform thing that agents and publishers keep talking about. Now, how big does this bastard have to be to get their attention?
A long time ago in a discussion I can’t remember very well, my grandmother said something that has stayed with me. “Make your own opportunity.” she said. “You’ve got enough backbone to go wherever you want. Laziness is what keeps you spinning your wheels.” Wait…now I remember the conversation. No, never mind. I was whining about this and that and she quite effectively shut me up. She was right.
Before I did this, I was kind of in the dumps about not having anything remotely close to being published yet. But you know, I have come a long way. So screw self pity. Make your list, pat yourself on the back. Don’t worry about what hasn’t happened yet, be happy for what has.