Math in words

We survived the fake Mayan apocalypse, and though people still seem pretty worried about this fiscal “cliff” (slope) thing, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, what the hell, we’ll make it through that, too. I feel pretty confident, because 2012 has been the Year of the Dragon in eastern astrology, and I’m a Dragon, so, baby, this was MY YEAR!

So let’s see what I did with my year.

Total words written:  160,000+

That’s 55,000 words of fiction, more than 90,000 words of blog posts here, and another 11,000 words at my Smile! blog. Toss in a few thousand words of small newsletter articles and other things, and I’ve had a fairly productive year, considering I’m also teaching at two campuses and tutoring part time and editing a newsletter and a literary magazine. So, not too shabby. The fiction could have been better — I wrote barely more than half of my NaNoWriMo project last month — but really, even that’s pretty good, especially considering….

Books written/finished:  6

That’s actually only one book-length work finished: my Civil War novel. I added more than 8,000 words to its total word count, and that’s after the material I cut in revision, so what I added is probably closer to 10,000 words. Then I revised and polished and revised and polished, and it’s been circulating among agents and publishers for the last six months.

The other books are all chapbooks: 3 new chapbooks and 2 I started last year and polished off this year with new stories and final revisions. Okay, technically, that’s only 2 new chapbooks, because the third is a reworking/reconfiguration of material from the other two plus some other stories. But it is a different creature, really, so I’m counting it.

Two of those chapbooks are out on the market right now (I should hear about at least one of them any day now). The “remix” I’m sitting on until I find out what’s happening with the other two chapbooks. Another I’m sitting on because it ties in with my story cycle (which is also at a publisher right now, getting pored over) and I’d like to release them together. The last of these is still looking for a market — it’s a kind of an odd length — but there are some contests opening up next year I have my eye on.

Stories written:  13

That’s 13 new stories. Started and finished this year. A lot of them are short — one is only 140 words long — but a few are more traditionally longish, one up near 4,500 words. Together, they total more than 20,000 words of brand new fiction.

Stories published: 16 (+5)

This is been a red-letter year for me. A few years ago, I was celebrating — ecstatically — a whopping 6 publications in one year. Last year, I doubled that total and was agog at the year I’d had. And this year? Man oh man. I’ve placed 16 stories at 11 different literary magazines, and I have 5 more stories accepted for publication and slated to run early next year (many of them will be online or in print in March).

Don’t let that fool you into thinking I’m some kind of literary badass. I’m not. I’ve submitted stories to literary magazines 98 times this year. Sure, that means I got an acceptance once out of every five times I sent something out, and that is astounding. But that’s still almost 80 rejections this year.

But man. One in five? I’m over the moon.

Interviews done: 5

I’ve been chatty this year! In just the past few months, I’ve interviewed Bill Roorbach and Marie Marshall and been interviewed by Marie as well as E.J. Runyon and the creative writing students over at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. The conversations were amazing on all counts, and I’m hoping to chat with more people in 2013. In the meantime, you can check out all the interviews here on the blog.

Books published: 1 (sort of)

I didn’t publish any of my own books this year (more on that a bit), but I was part of the team that ushered Ryan Werner’s story collection, Shake Away These Constant Days, into print and onto bookshelves. And I’m damn proud of that, because it’s a fine, fine book.

What, you haven’t read it? Here: go buy a copy.

Books blurbed: 1

It won’t be out until next year some time, but just this morning, I had the honor to blurb my friend Russ Brickey’s forthcoming poetry chapbook from Aldrich Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books. Keep an eye out for it. It’s a good one.

Major projects not accomplished (yet) this year:  at least 3

NaNoWriMo was half a failure this year. I say half not because I only wrote 26,000 words out of the 50k goal, but because in failing to reach that goal, I still got a fairly decent start on nearly four dozen new short stories, at least a quarter of which I think might turn out pretty good pretty quickly once I sit down and focus on revising them. If I can pull off all 48 planned stories, I’ll have four new chapbooks that could get published separately or together in a kind of boxed set/broken story collection. So I fell short of finishing NaNoWriMo for the first time in four years, but I also got a pretty cool book project out of it.

I had also planned to revise and finish my previous NaNoWriMo, from 2011, this year, but that didn’t happen. I made good headway on a handful of the story/chapters in that book, but I didn’t actually finish any of them. Still, I believe in the project and would like to finish it next year.

The biggest project for me this year — and the one most out of my hands — was to get a book deal. Technically, if we’re talking about the Year of the Dragon instead of 2012, I have a few weeks left to meet that goal, and yes, I have a few chapbooks and two book-length works out there not just on the market but directly in publisher’s hands, getting serious review by people I’ve actually spoken to about the books. So I’m a few toes, if not a whole foot, through the door of getting a book deal somewhere, eventually. And that’s great news! I’ll take it! But so far, no contracts yet.

But there’s always next year….

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