2016 in review

What a year. It’s been a shitshow for the world, and my own country too: Finland’s current government is awful and seems to oppose pretty much all the things I hold important. The past autumn ended up being difficult for me on a personal level, too. Haven’t been that anxious and close to burnout for an age. I’m glad I weathered it, though, and a week’s holiday has given me back some energy and hope. Still, on the whole 2016 has been pretty horrible.

Yet: on the writing front, things have been good for me. Very good, in fact. Thinking about 2016 gives me a weird dissonance: on one hand, terrible things have happened worldwide and bad things have happened to people I care about. On the other, in 2016 my first pro publications came out – making me eligible for the Campbell Award – and I revised a novel.

***

Here were my writing goals for 2016 (from this post):

  • Submit more stuff, both prose and poetry! Try to submit something at least once a month.
  • Get more stories + poems published (in pro markets if possible).
  • Revise the ms and submit poetry collection for publication.
  • Start gathering poems together for a speculative poetry collection.
  • Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day, even if it’s just a short poem or writing exercise.
  • Revise The Beast of Briarwood Hall and (possibly! maybe! yikes!) submit the ms to agents.
  • Have fun with writing and remember the joy of it even amidst PhD stress.

How did I do with them, then?

  • Welp. I did not manage to submit something at least once a month, alas. PhD and busytimes sap energy. Only 17 poetry subs (most including more than one poem), and 5 acceptances. 26 short story subs, and 2 acceptances. So – I didn’t manage to submit as much as I wanted to, but I kept submitting, if sporadically, throughout the year.
  • I got more stuff published – and as mentioned, in pro markets too. A wonderful thing. All my short story publications were in pro magazines. (See below for my 2016 pubs.)
  • I basically did nothing for my almost-finished poetry collection. Siiiiigh. Searching for potential publishers was too overwhelming amid my busyness.
  • I did not gather poems together for a spec poetry collection – see above, apparently this was not the year for poetry collections.
  • I don’t know if I increased my overall writing output. I have not been writing every day. However: I’ve been writing through thick and thin. Not consistently, but I’ve kept writing despite the demands of my PhD dayjob and everything else clamouring for attention.
  • The thing I’m proudest of this year: I revised The Beast of Briarwood Hall. I did not get to the point of submitting the ms, since it still needs final revisions. But I took the novel from a skeletal first draft to an actual novel, draft 2. I got immensely helpful comments from beta readers. I’m currently working on draft 3.
  • Writing has been an escape for me this year, reminding me of its importance in the dark times.

***
My 2016 publications are all included in my award eligibility post, but let’s recap them here for the sake of completionism:

POEMS (5)
02/2016 “Village Woman” in the Winter 2016 issue of Goblin Fruit.
03/2016 “Witch’s Lens” in Polu Texni.
06/2016 “After Selling Your Soul to the Trickster God” in Issue 59 of Abyss & Apex.
09/2016 “Taboo” in Strange Horizons. (Podcast version here.)
09/2016 “Bird People” in Volume 1, Issue 4 of Remixt.

FICTION (2 short stories, 1 flash)
07/2016 “The City Beneath the Sea” in the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, edited by Rose Lemberg. Short story.
07/2016 “Water, Birch, and Blood” in Strange Horizons, the special issue Our Queer Planet. Short story. (Podcast version here.)
08/2016 “Creation” in the August 2016 issue of Flash Fiction Online. Flash fiction.

I’m really proud of everything that I’ve had published this year. Poems and stories written with all my heart in them.

***

My writing goals for 2017:

  • Finish revising novel; get everything in shape for submission and start submitting it to literary agents.
  • Get back to the poetry collection thing; revise the collection, try to get the ms in shape and submitted.
  • Write more short stories.
  • Get back into the poetry habit.
  • Submit more poetry and stories.
  • Look over previous Nanowrimo novels, make plans for the potentials (rework as novel / condense into novella or novelette).
  • Have fun with writing. Play with it too.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other writers in the bad way. We all have different paths.

Those might be somewhat manageable goals. (I have a hard time proposing manageable goals for myself.) I hope that 2017 will be less awful than 2016, world-wise; although it’s possible we’re actually headed for darker times. But then again – those are precisely the times when we need art most. So I will do my utmost to keep arting in 2017, to write stories and poems with hope at their heart.

Happy new year, Dear Reader. May 2017 treat you with compassion and mercy.

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About Sara Norja

I'm a bilingual writer of prose and poetry. Things I enjoy apart from writing include tea, reading voraciously, cycling on warm summer nights, medieval manuscripts, dancing, and the wind.
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4 Responses to 2016 in review

  1. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished in the past year, Sara, including staying functional and open to life, which has been such a challenge this year. I hope 2017 brings more good with it.

  2. Kat Soini says:

    Hi darling, I’ve missed you. And it’s largely due to my own busy times which meant that while I was on LJ, all things poetry pretty much slid away into dim distance. I think I posted a few poems on boneverse (and I posted a lot of fanfic…) but as for submitting stuff… forget it, managed none of that this year. Work has been insane. My NY resolution is basically to ‘do more non-work things’ which includes poetry stuff.

    Anyway, this was a long-winded way to say: 1) I’ve missed you. 2) I’ve missed writing with you. 3) I’m hell of a proud of you for all your publications, look at you soar baby! 4) Especially with all the difficult stuff you mention. I’m sorry that’s been there :(

    • Sara Norja says:

      Kat!! I’ve missed you too. Apologies for not being present – my autumn was, well, what it was. I’m going to check LJ more frequently this spring. <333 I'm sorry you've been too busy with work too!

      Let's do a week of poetry again sometime this spring? I so love doing those with you. I'll get back to you on the LJs :)

      Also, thank you, babe. <3 Your support means a lot to me.

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