Image Credits:- Video and most photos created in Book Brush using Pixabay images. Other photos from Pixabay/Pexels. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Images of Wendy H Jones and Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing kindly supplied by Wendy H Jones for an earlier CFT post.
Happy New Year!
I’ve mentioned before I don’t stay up to see in the New Year these days though I do think it a good idea to use the New Year period to assess where I am at generally and look ahead to the year to come. Looking back is a good chance to recall there were positives amongst all the bad news on our screens.
For writers, you can look at what you achieved, what didn’t work out (could it do so for next year instead?), are there areas of your website/social media work/writing you need to develop further, and so on. You need to give yourself enough time to review these things. It is too easy to be caught up in every day busyness to take time out to reflect but the New Year period is a good opportunity for this.
For further tips on reviewing where you are at writing wise, do listen to Wendy H Jones’ recent excellent podcast on auditing the year.
You can find Part 2 – Planning for the Year Ahead here.
Many thanks to Wendy for kind permission to share the clip here. It is one of those occasions where great minds clearly do think alike. Wendy didn’t know I was going to write this post. I didn’t know she was going to be podcasting on a related topic!
Unexpected Opportunities and the Downs
What has been lovely in the last twelve months has been where opportunities I did not expect came my way and I’ve tried to make the most of those. For example, giving paid-for talks on Zoom has been great fun, phenomenally useful experience, and helps me in my continuing development. It is literally another string to my bow. Hadn’t seen it coming. Am absolutely delighted it did.
Likewise being published in print for non-fiction for the first time with Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing (compiled and edited by Wendy H Jones).
But equally I still haven’t got anywhere with my entries for The Bridport Prize. I would love to be long-listed (or better) on there! A couple of other competition entries have got precisely nowhere. And I haven’t got as far as I would’ve liked with my non-fiction project and third flash fiction collection, though I have done a considerable amount of work on both.
Both are on my To Get Out There If I Possibly Can List for 2022. I say that as factors do come in which the author has no control over such as how long a publisher can take to get back to you. Mind you, while you are waiting, you do get on with the next book if you haven’t started already.
Taking the Rough with the Smooth
I know enough now to know this is the way of it. You do need to develop a certain robustness in accepting rejections and/or no hears are part of the writing life and that they happen to everyone. It really isn’t just happening to you! Talking to other writers and sharing experiences soon shows you this. It is good to know you’re not alone!
Equally it is important, I feel, to celebrate the positives. I’ve always been encouraged when reading interviews etc with writers who now have work out there who describe their struggle to be published at all. It is good to know everyone has to go through this. And by keeping an open mind you can learn from the rejections (especially if you’re lucky enough to get any comments on them other than the standard rejection clauses).
There’s also nothing to stop you submitting the work elsewhere. Just because one agent/publisher/competition didn’t like it… well there are others out there. But if you find two or three people you approach are rejecting your work with similar comments, it does pay to sit up and take notice of that. And when you do become a published writer, you quickly learn there are other things to balance. Getting the time right in producing new material and marketing what you have already got out there is not easy.
Out with the Old then?
Old work which has been turned down?
Not necessarily. Put it aside for a while (ideally a month). Then re-read it. You are more likely to read it as a reader would then. I’ve found doing this I spotted things which let my work down which I didn’t spot at the time I was trying to get the piece out there.
That was simply because I was too close to the work. You do need to give yourself distance from it to be able to assess it objectively. You have to read it as if you hadn’t written it and you were being asked to evaluate the piece for someone else. And I’ve found I can’t do that without giving myself the necessary distance from the work.
Old ways of doing things?
Not necessarily. Stories will always be wanted but the methods in which you submit them to websites, competitions etc may well differ from what you may be used to – this kind of thing happens in most industries. Better, more efficient ways of found for getting your work in front of a competition judge etc. Best to go with the flow on this one otherwise you risk cutting yourself off from potential markets because you’re not willing to adapt.
Also Zoom has made things possible so you need to be open to that. Much as I would’ve loved to have gone to Canada for the international writing summit I took part in, that wasn’t a feasible option. Doing this online was so being prepared to change how you work is a good thing.
And the writing community is generally very supportive. There is someone out there who will show you how to do these things. And it is amazing what you can find on YouTube – a quick look at “How to Use Zoom” in the search bar brought up various videos immediately including on how to host a meeting and another on simply how to join one. The search bar is a wonderful invention!
Not if you’re still getting work accepted by them! But it does pay to keep your eyes open as to what else is out there. I discovered this year a website called Friday Flash Fiction. That has got me back into writing my 100-word stories again, which I had not done for a while. Those were also my way into flash fiction in the first place.
So it is good to go back to writing these again, I have had several published on this site, but will I continue to write for places such as CafeLit? Oh yes.
Friday Flash Fiction also encourages authors to tweet their stories on Twitter, which I have been doing so I’ve increased my use of that social media outlet considerably too. I hope that will go on to have the benefit of making more people aware of what I do writing wise.
Appreciating the New
I’ve appreciated Zoom for being able to go to summits, give talks and so on. I hadn’t anticipated video conferencing being part of my writing life (well, I’m working with words rather than pictures, right?). I’ve become an associate editor for Mom’s Favorite Reads, a US based online magazine, where I edit the short stories and flash fiction pieces as well as contribute a monthly column and set a theme for people to write to – all great fun. Again not an expected development but a very welcome one.
I have appreciated being approached to see if I would do this, would do that etc as it means to me others think my work has reached the right standard for me to be asked and that means a huge amount to me. Taking part in different things encourages my creativity too. In preparing Zoom talks, I’ve got back to using PowerPoint and have been exploring how I can make good use of that and screen sharing to make presentations interesting and interactive. All new experiences and ones I hope to develop further.
I’ve mentioned before being open is important to a writer. Being willing to try things is too – as you know, I did this with flash fiction writing. Never regretted that one! So I want to keep the best of the old, be open to the new, and to continue to develop as a writer. Not exactly a New Year resolution but it will do!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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