I finished 2020 on a high.
I know this because I wrote a blog post declaring 2020 my ‘best year yet’. Not exactly subtle.
Last year I said I had a hit rate of 14%, meaning of all the short story competitions I entered, the manuscript prizes, the fellowships and residencies I applied for and the articles I submitted, I was successful for 14% of them. I don’t know what other people’s hit rates are, so I can’t tell if that’s woeful or in the ballpark.
In hindsight, my 2020 hit rate was closer to 17% because a manuscript I dropped into the Affirm Press slush-pile at the beginning of November 2020 was picked up in June 2021.
This is me and my daughter happy-crying when we realised the book I had written for her was going to be published (working title: Dyslexic Heroes, an illustrated collection of short stories for children about some of the incredible and inspirational people living with dyslexia. It’s due out September 2022).
In the meantime, I have been working hard this year and putting words out into the world. I subscribe to the idea that you need to put yourself out there no matter how terrifying it feels [I tried the other method, which is waiting for things to fall into your lap, and that wasn’t very successful].
I entered 9 short stories into competitions (I was highly commended in one).
I submitted 7 pieces to journals or magazines (one was accepted for publication).
I applied for 5 writing fellowships, residencies or mentorships (I was awarded one).
I entered 2 flash fiction competitions (and was highly commended in one).
I did a virtual pitch to 1 publisher (we ‘matched’, but ultimately they weren’t interested).
I entered 4 full-length manuscript competitions (two different books, no luck yet).
I submitted two different books to 5 publishers or agents (no joy yet).
So while my success rate may seem relatively low (two published short stories, one published flash fiction and a writing fellowship), I am really proud of the work I have done this year and feel that for some of my stories, at least, it’s a matter of not having found the right home for them yet.
Yet. Such a small word, but it holds such promise.
Outside of these obvious markers of success (the things you can put in your writer CV), I had less reportable successes: I continued critique (and support) sessions with my writing group of like-minded history-lovers (who I adore), worked with my writing mentor (who I worship), completed four writing courses, wrote 10 blog posts, read over fifty books, wrote 74,000 words of a new novel, brainstormed a children’s series I hope to write one day as well as the outline of a new non-fiction book while working part-time, parenting three daughters, a dog, and more recently, three bunnies.
I am grateful for everything except the bunnies. They’re just annoying.
I’m still waiting to hear the outcome for two things, but so far my hit rate for 2021 is about 13%. Technically, this means my year has been less successful than last, but I don’t see it that way.
Sure, I’d still love to find a home for my 2020 contemporary novel, and there are some smashing short pieces I’d like to see published one day, but I look back at my year and think – at least I gave it a go.
But more than the numbers, because who cares about numbers, is something less tangible. I feel that this year has been about growth for me as a writer this year, not only the words I have put on the page but also the ones I have left off.
So maybe some of the misses of 2021 will become hits for 2022.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to Christmas and time with my family over the school break. Thank you for reading and I hope that 2022 brings you lots of success, plenty of words and lots of joy.
One thought on “2021 – My Successes and Failures”
I don’t know bout you, but 14% sounds pretty danged awesome. More impressive is the actual tries you’ve put out, because God knows so many writers only dream about publishing but never really do anything about it. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Shannon!