Monday, December 22, 2014

Finally Got Around to Typing Out My Idea File

First up, the Kickstarter for How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens is up! With an initial goal of $100, it's really more of a pre-order than a crowd-funding effort, but that's how pre-orders are done these days. It contains my vintage story "Sea Changes," plus stories from Ken Liu, Tina Connolly, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Sarah Pinsker, and many more. Check it out!

Second of all, I finally did something I've been meaning to do for over a year now and typed out my idea file. While my short story ideas are numerous, somehow I always found myself reaching for them when it came time to sit down and write a story. My mind would go blank. I also had a hard time keeping all the different stories in my head and would find myself forgetting what story I was working on halfway through it and stalling out on the end. Or adding another end that belonged to a different story. Everything just kinda mashed together in my head, and while that idea soup can sometimes lead to a great story, more often it just leads to... soup. Undelicious, confusing soup.

I have a deep-seated aversion to outlining. Because where you have outlining you have things like character sheets and timelines and world maps and pretty soon, you've written an encyclopedia about your book or story before you've even written the story. Nobody has time for that! Never mind that it would probably make my job a lot easier to meticulously outline everything, it would take away a lot of the fun of writing for me.

The "idea clips" are not outlines. They are capsule descriptions similar to a Locus review but with endings and without Lois Tilton's awesome, scathing commentary. (I add that part myself, in my head, when the story's done.) They are approximately 400 words each, and so far I have eleven of them. I hope to be up to twenty by the time I attend Rainforest Writers Village in February.

To be honest, the physical (well, electronic) idea file still makes me feel a little dirty. I'm used to stories just kind of coming out, and of all the stories I've sold, almost all of them were spur-of-the-moment things (and all of the good ones were written like that). But hopefully this ameliorates some of the "geez, I was gonna write this story... what was it about?" problem.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 Year in Review

So! I see that many of my fellow writer-types have put up these types of posts recently to document the stuff they wrote or published this year, and since I'm not going to have anything else published in 2014, I might as well do it too.

Surprisingly, 2014 was a less productive year writing-wise than 2013... or was it?? I certainly wrote fewer short stories this year: eight stories, most of them flash, compared to ten stories last year. (This does not count stories I've finished but that Rob hasn't looked at yet. I only count them when they get their first ride on the submission train. So I may have one or two stories still to go this year!)

HOWEVER, I also "finished" (because it's never done until it sees print, and sometimes not even then) my novel, a.k.a. Stupid Novel, a.k.a. that thing I'm always whining about at 1 a.m. PST on Twitter. I am tentatively querying agents, although I still have to finish my Kindle read-through.

And come on, I moved across the freaking country. Cut me some slack.

Publishing-wise, I really can't complain. I had eight stories published this year, which almost but not quite equals the number of stories I had published in all previous years combined. Did I mention I've been getting stories published since 2005? Yeah, quitting stole a few years from the middle there and I didn't know what I was doing for a lot of that time. But now I do, so here we are. I like all of my published stories (or at least I don't hate them, once they are published I don't really have strong feelings about my stories one way or another) but I might be proudest of "We Take the Long View" and "Useful Objects." The former because it's fucking weird as hell but Shimmer bought it anyway, the latter because Nick Mamatas called it "slacker SF" and that's as good a descriptor as any for the kind of thing I do.

Other metrics:

Total words written: I need to get better at tracking this next year, but if you count the entire novel since it was essentially a rewrite and you also count the part of the novel I rewrote and threw out and rewrote again, plus short stories, a bit over 100k words total.

Total cons attended: One. OryCon. Next year will be two for sure, maybe three if I do Norwescon. I miss doing a lot of cons but I like living in Portland more.

Total submitted stories including reprints: 94 and counting.

Total accepted stories including reprints: 11 (and counting?).

Next up: my 2014 non-writing year in review! It is a much more interesting story.