The 11th September is the anniversary for a lot of terrible things: the 9/11 Attacks, the 1973 coup d’etat in Chile, the release of the soundtrack to Mariah Carey’s film Glitter.
But for me, this day marks one whole year since my glorious returning to writing fiction. According to the Properties box of the Word document containing the short story “After ‘Ours”, it was created 11th September 2017 — and I know for a fact that I wrote the entire rough draft of that story in one sitting.
Since that time I’ve had twelve pieces of fiction published or accepted for publication, the latest having been accepted for my first print publication of fiction.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed with how things have turned out — I thought I’d have at least a half a dozen print publications by now, and a dozen paid publications in total, and along with that would’ve been able to have gained the confidence and relative skill to begin writing my first novel. (I also never would’ve thought that I would find my greatest fiscal success in poetry, having been paid for both of my two published poems, even if only to a grand total of £8.57.)
However, I never for a moment thought that I would have have gained, through essentially chance, the opportunity to write a weekly column in an online journal I respected a great deal, although Tweet Checking is currently on hiatus with the rest of Disclaimer Magazine (and hopefully not for any longer than a couple more months). I’ll always be grateful for that.
I think my earlier high expectations were just that though — it takes a long time to acquire the skills to gain higher and higher standards of publication, as well as recognition from peers and audiences. (Although I’m of course very thankful to and honoured by all those editors who have published me so far.)
I’ve written over thirty complete short stories this year, although really, if I was sticking to Ray Bradbury’s rules, I would have at least fifty-two, a rate of one produced per week. I also thought I would’ve at least written something of novelette-length (7,500 words or more) by now, but my longest piece of fiction from this period remains at around 5,700 words, and even that was from the earliest part of the period. Much of the time I admit I’ve been feeling ill or have actually been hospitalised (including a lung operation), but even then, I could’ve worked harder, through the pain and the depression. I could’ve at least written a lot more poetry.
As I’ve previously said, the only way to rectify any short-falls is to just keep writing, and to make sure that you do it consistently and as often as possible. As Harlan Ellison wrote: “The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.” Even writing something like this post counts — I’m keeping an eye on my non-fiction abilities, practising and updating my skills, taking in and presenting new knowledge and things I’ve learned. It all means something in the end.
Happy (and productive) writing!