So what is going on with this blog? What’s its purpose in life? Am I still here? What have I been doing for the past year-and-two-months?
Let’s start with the numbers first. During the first ten months of 2012 (as in 2012, not 2013, this is not a typo), I wrote 17 new short stories (to be honest, the number includes a few that had been previously written in Greek and translated, but it doesn’t make a lot of difference), I made 89 submissions, I had 1 acceptance (albeit at a non-paying market, which I wouldn’t normally consider — if I wanted to be published without being paid I wouldn’t bother to write in English, I’m doing it all the time writing in Greek — but it was a charity publication and has an impressive TOC so it was worth it), I’ve been twice in the final round of Penumbra magazine, twice in the second round of other magazines, and I had 5 or 6 personal rejection (for whatever they are worth, which is not a lot in my book but anyway). The stats came to 1.7 stories a month and 9 submissions a month.
I can’t really say this was a bad start for a writing career in a foreign language, but still I wasn’t satisfied.
Then my limited free time became even more limited, because — in addition to having a day job, family, friends, participation in a theater group, participation in another theater group, my international writing career and my greek writing career — I began publishing an internet anthology of modern greek poetry.
At about the same time, I became a member of Critters and began spending a lot of time critiquing stories. I also received a lot of critiques for my stories — which really changed my perspective, as it exposed all the flaws in my story writing. Even stories who received roaring critiques, still had a lot that could be improved.
So for the next five months (November 2012 to March 2013) I spent a lot of time critiquing, I wrote nothing new and made 15 submissions (amounting to just 3 submissions a month).
Then I took a vacation from Critters, because I saw it was actually impossible to write a critique almost every week and also write stories. By then I had decided to try something new. I would rewrite my six crittered stories (and then the rest of my stories), taking into consideration the critiques I had received and all the new things I had learned since I launched my so-called international career.
I would not be writing any new stories until I was finished with all my revisions. This practically meant not writing anything for themed issues with deadlines, because I had realized that trying to meet the deadlines my writing became sloppy and flawed.
Why not write new stories at all? As I already said, I now realized that my old stories had flaws — but I still felt they were good stories in essence, and I already had the crits to help make them better. It would be a waste to dump them and pointless to keep submitting them as they were disregarding all the crits; meanwhile, if I kept writing new stories I wouldn’t have any crits for them so I’d have to start from scratch again. It wasn’t my story-inventing that had improved, but my story-editing.
And it also meant that I had to stop submitting my older stories. Professonial markets are numerous but they are not infinite, and almost all of them (with the notable exception of Writers of the Future) refuse to consider a story they have rejected before, however great your revision might be. Of course some of my stories might actually find a market in their present state, but I felt I should really be saving my submissions for the time when my stories would be at a better shape.
So I started revising. By that time, however, I had been really submerged in all of my other projects, day job was frantic, and summer was coming — summer in Greece is long, hot, and totally counter-productive. Add to this the facts that I had grown out of the daily habit of writing and that writing is fun but revising is not. Also, writing to deadlines had been my primary motivation and now I had lost that too. All of the above led to the result that for the next five months (up to and including August 2013) I wrote nothing new, kept submitting only to Writers of the Future, and didn’t manage to complete the revision of a single story.
Finally, come September, I started revision of another story. It took me four months to finish, which is really sluggish, but I picked up pace as I went along. I also wrote more than 3000 new words which more than doubled the original story.
Looking back at the past year, I think it wasn’t a total waste. I’m not at all happy with all the delay — during this time a lot of the friends I made in the Writers of the Future forum made their first professional sales and I couldn’t help thinking that if I had continued writing and submitting I might have made it as well — but I also think that my revised stories will be much better than their original selves.
The only sure thing is that I won’t be doing it again. If every couple of years I stop writing and start revising everything I’ve ever written because I became a better writer it will be hopeless. You have to draw the line somewhere. On the other hand, I took my first steps in an alien marketplace. I can read English as easily as I can read Greek but writing is a different cup of tea and there is much room for improvement. Also the level of competition is like ten times higher and there are uncountable rules of writing — which is something totally unknown in Greece. Taking time to digest everything and starting afresh may have been a wise choise after all.
So my writing resolutions for this year: Revise and start resubmitting all of my six crittered stories (hopefully in much less time than the first one.) By then I hope I’ll be at a point where I can start writing new stories again without the need to have them critiqued first, and at the same time I’d want to begin revising the rest of my old stories without getting critiques for them either. About deadlines I’ll have to decide what to do. They’re invaluable as motivation but they’re also trouble.
The first task I assigned myself for 2014 was writing this blog post. I won’t promise I’ll be writing again soon — it took me three hours to write and I can’t afford three hours often — but I’ll keep you posted if anything exciting comes up.
Please feel free to comment, whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts.