Improving My Craft

A Look Back at 2015

What is it they say about resolutions? Resolutions are made to be broken?

No actually, I’ve no idea what they say about resolutions or who exactly “they” are. I just know that in all my life, I’ve never once kept a New Year’s resolution. Except for 2015. This was, apparently, a good year for goal setting.

Going into this year, I set a writing goal that by the end of the year I would write and polish three pieces of short fiction and begin submitting them to short fiction markets. Shortly after I set that goal for myself, I got the chance to take a free short story class from Mary Robinette Kowal at the Ferguson public library. It was like a sign from the writing gods. Also, it was a wonderful community building experience and a chance to show solidarity with the residents of Ferguson.

Over the course of the year, I was able to write and polish four pieces of short fiction, and at this time, all four have been submitted to various short fiction markets.

Writing short stories has, for me at least, proven to be a powerful learning tool. Because shorts don’t take nearly as long to write as novels (obviously), they’ve given me the chance to complete the full writing cycle multiple times from idea generation through revisions, critiques, and more revisions. This has given me practice, practice, practice. It’s exciting because with each story, I learn new things and I can see my work improve.

It’s also given me the chance to learn more about the business of writing. I’ve learned about standard manuscript format and why the different aspects of it are important. I’ve learned what editors expect to see in a cover letter for a short piece. And more and more and more.

Most importantly, I’ve learned how to take rejections. I worried initially that rejections would feel soul-crushing and defeating. So many people talk about that. Maybe I’m weird, but my first rejection was exciting. It meant I was really doing this. Each rejection is, for me, encouragement to keep writing, keep learning. A rejection means I’m not ready. Not yet. And that’s okay.

I’ve got quite a bit on my writing plate for 2016. Everything from working on my long form to more short story ideas to attending a convention in the summer. It’s exciting stuff and I look forward to continuing this journey.

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