In this post yesterday, I told folks about stories by other writers that I loved this year. Now I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my own writing year. Nobody reads my blog anyway, so I know nobody will mind. *grin*
2015 was a pretty terrific year for me. I sold more stories than ever before, for more writing income than in any other year, but that’s not really a reflection of the year—or if it is, it’s a reflection of me being lucky, and of past investments paying off. It takes a fair amount of time, usually, for a story to make it into print, so the stories of mine that came out this year were almost all written in prior years.
What made it a great year for me was the things I actually did, not the decisions other people, like editors, made. I learned to manage my dayjob workload better than I ever have before, and I believe being less stressed out than before has made me a friendlier, better teacher. And it’s left me more energy for writing at the end of the day. I wrote seventeen stories, a record for me. More importantly, I figured out which bits of process work for me right now, and which ones don’t. Writing has always been difficult for me. I believe I’m good at it, and I find myself drawn to writing—I want to write and I am satisfied by having written. But the writing itself has almost always been a slog for me. I kept doing it anyway and managed to write hundreds of thousands of words’ worth of completed manuscripts, including three novels, before this year, so I’m not merely somebody who talks about writing without doing it. But it was always incremental struggle without feeling like I knew how to flip the switch that made the words flow.
If there was a theme for 2015 for me, it was Embrace the Great YMMV. Lots of people will give you writing advice. A fair percentage of them will tell you they’re sharing with you the “right” way to do things. And I realized this year I’d internalized a lot of B.S. about what was not legitimate. I was fighting against what worked for me because I believed that “real” writers didn’t do this or that. Well anything that gets words written is a thing that real writers do. This was the year I started paying attention to myself, finding the path of less resistance, and getting the words to flow. I also started collecting all the tips, techniques, and observations that were effective for me, and put them all in an Evernote file I could use to remind myself. And finally I started to feel like I knew how to operate my creativity. My real accomplishment in 2015 wasn’t stories written or stories told: it was learning to stop trying to be a different writer. It was learning that there isn’t a Way To Be A Writer, there’s The Way You Write.
Now I know how I brainstorm, and I know that I can generate a new story any time I want to. Now I know how I get words flowing, and I know I can do that any time I want to. And now I know how I revise. I believe I’m writing the best stories I’ve ever written, and I think the best writing and publishing days are ahead of me, FSM-willing.
But yeah, on to the stories that saw publication this year:
My best received story, far and away, was “Weight of the World,” published in the February issue of Fantastic Stories. You can download this issue—currently free!—here. It’s an emotional story about a man bringing his son down to Earth for treatment for a life-threatening disease. K. Tempest Bradford on io9 had this to say about it:
This flash piece doesn’t fall into over-sentimentality, which I appreciate, yet is a touching exploration of what parents go through when they have a very sick child. The last paragraph nails it.
If stories exploring gender roles and deconstructing traditional fairy tales is more your thing, you might like my story “Cupid and Psyche at the Caffé Sol y Mar,” published in Fireside Fiction in October. You can read it here. It’s basically revisiting the story of Cupid and Psyche a few thousand years later, when Psyche’s had enough time to figure out that maybe she got a raw deal.
A story of mine that I’ve been quite fond of, “The Flood,” found a home in Grantville Gazette this November, and I’m delighted that some folks have really responded to it. It’s the story of a former soldier raising a war orphan after all the battles have been fought, and trying to figure out what it means to be a parent. You can buy the issue containing my story here.
Finally, the most “normal” story I’ve sold, I think, is “Message from Beyond,” published in the July-August issue of Fantastic Stories, available for purchase here. Charles Payseur had this to say at Quick Sip Reviews:
It’s a nice story, biting and darkly funny, with Ray an interesting main character, a man bitter and entitled and yet with tragedy hounding him through no real fault of his own. A story worth checking out.
I had a fifth sale in November that will come out in 2016 from Daily Science Fiction. I’m really excited about that one and look forward to sharing it next year!
And it’s that time of year where we do the award eligibility thing, isn’t it? Honestly, I’m not high profile enough to expect to make a run at any awards anyway, but what I would like is to get more people reading my stories, because connecting with readers is a big part of why I do this. So whether you nominate or not, I hope you’ll check out something by me. And if you read something of mine but it wasn’t your cuppa, thank you anyway for taking the time.
If you are reading with award nominations in mind, then I believe I am eligible to be nominated for the Hugo Award (short story), the Nebula Award (short story), the Tiptree Award (assuming those nominations have reopened when you read this), and the Carl Brandon Parallax Award. Naturally, you should only nominate works you think are excellent and deserving.
Thanks for being a part of my 2015, and here’s to a wonderful 2016 for all of us!