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.