I’m in a retrospective mood this morning. I got home from work just before 1 a.m. to find that I’d made one last fiction sale for the year. There in my inbox was notification from Uncle John’s Flush Fiction that “The Feminine Mystique” had been accepted for the anthology.
That brings my total of fiction and poetry sales for 2011 to fifteen pieces. I’m very pleased to have sold so many, even if it wasn’t the twenty-five sales I did in 2010. I didn’t work nearly as hard this year on short fiction and poetry submissions as I did in 2010, but my publication ratio was about the same.
When I look back on the year, I’ve accomplished some amazing things.
I made enough money to get me through the year. Granted, if I hadn’t taken this job at the call centre, I’d be out of money now, and Christmas wouldn’t have been much to write home about. But I’d have paid the bills for the year solely on writing- and editing-related income. That’s almost two years of financial independence as a writer.
I’ve built a small list of repeat clients for non-fiction and humour. As anyone who does anything for pay knows, it’s easier and more efficient to work several times for the same client than to have to keep finding new ones. I’m really happy to have that little list – six clients so far, but I’m working on more.
I’ve made great strides with The Swan Harp, including having the interest of an agent. There’s still a ways to go before I’m anywhere near ready for publication, but I feel greatly encouraged. I’ve had good readers who’ve made tough, constructive suggestions that have improved the work no end.
I’m beginning to get work as an editor. I invested in some advertising for the Writer’s Dominatrix, which got me a little notice. I think I’m going to have to do it again. I signed on as editor for Aurora Wolf, a job I’m enjoying very much.
I’ve also begun to get work as a poet for hire. I had several commissions for custom poetry, and the people who commissioned the poems were happy with them.
I survived the chaos which was November this year. That was a hard month, full of trials both financial and personal. Through it all I kept writing. I’m proud of myself for that.
My publication list now includes some very recognizable names: Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canadian Living, Old Farmer’s Almanac, Ladybug, The New Quarterly. What I learned this year was that if you are persistent and patient, you can get assignments from publications you really want to be in.
I signed a publishing contract with Scrivener Press for Shepherd in Residence. That was so exciting! The publication date of April 15th is fast approaching, with a cover done and advanced reading copies in production. I said when “Erik the Viking Sheep” was published that if I never published another book, I’d be happy knowing I’d done it once. Now I’m double happy!
That led to another first – I’ve been asked to read for Stories in the North this year. This is my very first time as a guest artist for a literary festival.
I’m writing three humour columns right now, which is hectic and fun.
Sometimes the money worries this year made me crazy and made me wonder if I had what it took to make a living as a writer. I think I do – and I also think that sometimes part of making a living as a writer is knowing when to scale back and get that steady paycheque from a job while you recoup and regroup.
It’s felt like a long, slow year sometimes, but when I look back I can see I’ve done some amazing things. I’m looking forward to a productive year in 2012, too. My goals are: The Swan Harp completed and, with any luck at all, in the hands of an agent; continued work for my repeat clients; a second novel started; more poetry and short fiction; more editing work.
I’m looking forward to the new year, and all the delightful possibilities for me in my chosen art. I wish all of you that joyful anticipation for 2012. Thanks for being part of my writer’s journey in the Scriptorium this year; see you on the other side of midnight!
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