Monday 31 December 2018

My literary 2018

At the start of 2017 I decided that I'd try to increase quantity of output (easy to do, since I write a poem a month if that, and few stories), being less precious about quality, and I decided to send more things off, not ignoring themed issues and calls for submissions. The year was fairly successful - about 20 acceptances, and more pieces written than usual. People say that the wider the base of the pyramid, the higher the pyramid, and that's what I found. I got into some places I'd not been in before, and wrote several pieces that I was pleased with.

In 2018 I intended to build on this. In addition I decided to start afresh, going to workshops on how to write, how to get published, etc. I also walked around with a notepad. However, it's been one of my worst years for acceptances. Why?

  • Several publications stipulate that people shouldn't submit for a year after being published, so there were places I couldn't send to in 2018.
  • In 2017 I had a backlog of unpublished material. Many of the acceptances were of old work that I'd made more marketable.
  • Though I think I'm writing better, I suspect that actually I'm becoming more niche, less fashionable. An elegant prose style maybe, but few characters to empathise with. Interesting poetry, but disruptive style-switching.
  • I've had several near-acceptances (short-listed, etc) that in other years might have been acceptances.
  • If I'm trying to improve quality by widening the base, I need to widen the base a lot to improve quality a little. I know of people who've widened their base by an order of magnitude. My increase was nothing like that.

What's perhaps most disappointing is that I've a handful of c.2000-word short stories written in the last 5 years whose publication I thought would be just a matter of time. Silly me. So next year -

  • I'll pay for submitting - several magazines (e.g. Ambit) now charge for submissions. I don't mind this - after all, they need to cover submittable costs, and in the olden days submissions weren't free anyway, requiring 2 stamps and 2 envelopes. I've avoided such publications up to now.
  • I'll more brutally cannibalize old stuff
  • I'll try more US paper magazines
  • In the bio that I send mags I'll not say when my books/booklets were published (too long ago).

On the plus side I'm getting more pleasure from others' successes - fellow members of writers groups I go to are appearing in several magazines.

Sunday 23 December 2018

A UK poetry submission schedule for early 2019

I shall try to submit to several of these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -

Saturday 15 December 2018

A UK/Eire prose submission schedule for early 2019

As more magazines introduce submission windows, and competitions increase their significance, it's worth planning ahead. I shall try to submit to these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Gran Canaria

An all-in deal that includes alcohol is a challenge to one's will power, especially if there aren't many other distractions. I think I coped - alcohol doesn't fuel my style of creativity. I saw my first whale in the wild, and the dunes were sometimes Saharan. We went through the gay nude part of the beach on the way.

I read "Mislaid" by Nell Zink, "Bearings" by Isobel Dixon, "Honeycomb" by M.R. Peacocke (the sunset suits her pamphlet) and "The things I would tell you" by Sabrina Mahfouz (ed) - writing by British Muslim women. I wrote 3 little pieces - about 1200 words all told.

The interior of the island is raw geology with a few little villages in the process of abandonment or touristification. Here's a little community stage that might not have been so different years ago. No Moroccan influence, though the mainland's not that far away.

History and culture weren't easy to find. There's little evidence left that there was an indigenous (Berber) population, and churches are few and far between. But the island's not short of interest - "Secret" is a Swingers' Club by a Spar shop, in a themed block of buildings (Holland, Italy, etc).

We visited Tirgan, Teror, Fataga, Cruz de Tejeda, etc.