Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MY FIVE YEAR WRITE-IVERSARY

MY FIVE YEAR WRITE-IVERSARY

This month marks an important personal milestone as being my five year ‘Write-iversary’! Meaning five years ago, in February, 2011, I decided to pursue fiction writing for the sake of publication.

Base Stats as of February 15, 2016:

352 Submissions since February, 2011:

84 Acceptances (*23 of those Acceptances are REPRINTS)
268 Rejections

= 23.86% Acceptance Rate

Of those Acceptances (including Reprints):

65 are Published
19 are Pending Publication (3 of which I don’t expect will ever be published, as either the publisher or their project seems to have fallen by the wayside).

In the last five years, I’ve written 73 original stories. Of those 73, I still carry some degree of sentimentality or pride for 52 of them.

Prior to the Feb., 2011 date, and going back to 1993, I’d written another 15 stories at random times of my life, which I may or may not have submitted to contests or underground ’zines, but which are not included in submission statistics, as I was not tracking them nor had any publishing goals set.

Lifetime of original words of fiction = 313,435
Original words of fiction written since Feb., 2011 = 295,884

In addition to fiction short stories, I’ve written and published:

3 Non-Fiction Articles
1 Book Introduction
15 Blurbs
2 Anthologies (Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death...), the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award
1 Convention Souvenir Book (2015 HWA Bram Stoker Awards Weekend & 25th Anniversary World Horror Convention)

Besides winning once, I’ve been blessed with three more Bram Stoker Award nominations. I’ve also been nominated for the International Thriller Award and nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, in addition to nominations or winnings in a number of smaller indie contests or the such.

Observations:

I noticed my average word length for stories has increased dramatically over the last year. In the 2011-2012 years, I averaged about 1,500 – 2,000 words a story. During 2013-2014, I averaged about 3,500 words a story. 2015-present, my story averages have jumped to about 7,500. In the past five years, my shortest published story is 25 words long. My longest story (really, a Novella) is 34,816 words long.

This time last year (Feb., 2015) I was at 70 acceptances and 235 rejections, giving me a 22.95% acceptance rate. So I’ve averaged a little better than one acceptance a month over the last year, which I feel is pretty good, particularly as I did not write for six months during 2015 while caring for my brother and his affairs.

Although I strive to sell works at five cents a word, I estimate my going-worth or average acceptance pay rate over the last year is at three cents a word. Twice for fiction works 6,000 words+, I’ve been paid at ten cents a word. When I first started writing for ‘publication-sake’ I did not consider the financial worth of words and was thrilled to be published in any “For-The-Love-Of” self-published, charity anthology. Most of what I wrote during that time was dreadful anyway! Now before beginning any new story I consider the payment, the prestige of the publication (or skill of editor), and the amount of time needed on my part, especially as I think of myself as a rather slow writer.

In addition to writing fiction, my ‘Day Job’ duties consist of corporate contract technical writing as well as teaching technical writing in the University California system; raising infant children; volunteering for organizations and youth groups; and engaging in all other manner of life obligations and responsibilities...

The biggest thorn in my side is having not yet finished my first full-length novel, CHESTNUT ’BO... I was about 87,000 words into it last year, when I stopped to care for my brother. Afterward I was not able to emotionally pick it up, as where I left off just reminded me of the beginning of his illness and the months of following horror. I have, however, just recently began to work at it again, and am now over 90,000 words, and truly hope to work on nothing else until I’ve completed it with a hard-line max of 100,000 words.

I wrote the following thoughts last year, but they still hold as equally true today:

I’ve made mistakes, but also gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in publishing, editing, and crafting stories. I’ve made wonderful friends and am still thrilled as a fan-boy each time I get to share a T.O.C. or even just communicate with an author I admire (er, swoon over!). I’ve met and/or worked with Joe R. Lansdale, Bentley Little, Ellen Datlow, Tom Monteleone, Steve Rasnic Tem, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones, and others whom I’ve been reading for 23+ years, not to mention authors whom I’ve became familiar with and have inspired my dark fiction reading in the more recent 10-15 years, like John Joseph Adams, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, Robert McCammon, and many, many more. Plus there are those other writers who have been particularly supportive and benevolent to me, such as Lisa Morton, Weston Ochse, Gene O’Neill, Jonathan Maberry, Stan Swanson, all the members of HWA L.A. chapter, as well as a hundred others.

My only regret is that I waited so long to even ‘try’ writing. I loved writing in high school but went to college under the impression I needed to focus on ‘serious-minded’ business, and never the twain shall meet. Although I ultimately did pursue other creative endeavors, I waited until I was 35 years old before I decided to attempt that childhood dream of writing... I torture myself now thinking where I could be with an additional fifteen years of experience under my belt. Ah well, I’m elated with the adventures I’ve found thus far and can only hope it all continues for countless more years!


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