2014 in review

On 1 January I made a post about my writing in 2013 and my hopes for 2014. I like looking back on the past year at its end, so here we go again.

My writing goals for 2014 were (slightly abridged):

  1. Get a story published!
  2. Get more poems published.
  3. Work on a poetry collection.
  4. Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day.
  5. Rework Dim Vanities and decide what to do with it (whether to continue editing it smaller-scale, or do a total reboot, or just stick it in the trunk).
  6. Improve my plotting skills.
  7. Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.

So, how did I do?

1) I exceeded my goal of getting one story published – I now have three stories out and two forthcoming. I am really proud and happy about this.

2) I got more poems published – nine of them. And to some highly awesome magazines, too. Yay!

3) I haven’t got the poetry collection into a submittable shape yet, but it exists! and it’s looking pretty good. Finishing it up and submitting to potential publishers is one of my goals for (early) 2015.

4) I haven’t managed to write fiction or poetry every day (except during Nanowrimo), but I have increased my writing output, I think. But this is something to work on – writing something creative every day even if it’s just an exercise.

5) Haven’t had the energy to start reworking Dim Vanities or do anything too much with it. However, a couple of weeks ago I got a flash of feeling that made me decide something: DV needs a radical rewrite. It might still not be publishable even after that rewrite, but I’ve got to give this novel one more chance. I still love so many aspects of it – I just need to rewrite the plot and give the characters higher stakes and more emotion. This is, therefore, a project for 2015. (Camp Nanowrimo, perhaps?)

6) I haven’t worked systematically on improving my plotting skills. I’ve been writing more stories, which I think helps, but plotting is definitely still something that I need to work on.

7) I have been trying to finish more things that I start! And I’ve managed to edit at least some first drafts of stories into a submittable point (and sold a couple of them, too – “Chrysopoeia” and “The Ruin”).

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As for more concrete evidence of my writing in 2014, here’s a list of my publications this year:

POETRY (9 poems)
02/14 “Ninety-Eight” and “City of Stones” in Issue #33 of Chantarelle’s Notebook.
02/14 “Helsinki Love Song” in Wild Violet Magazine.
05/14 “The Alchemist’s Lover” in the “Alchemies” issue of CSHS.
06/14 “Looking-Glass Lover” in Issue #28 of Niteblade, “Looking-Glass Lover” (after my poem).
06/14 “Shrug Charm” in the Spring 2014 issue of Goblin Fruit.
11/14 “Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)” in Issue 11 of Stone Telling.
11/14 “Sorrow-stone” in the “Summer Is Dead” issue of Goblin Fruit.
12/14 “Raw Honey” in Strange Horizons. Listen to me reading the poem in the SH December Poetry Podcast.

PROSE (3 stories)
07/14 “Wind Chimes” in 365 tomorrows. Flash fiction.
10/14 “Chrysopoeia” in Issue 9 (Fall 2014) of Quantum Fairy Tales. Short story.
12/14 “Munankuorikehto” (‘Egg-Shell Cradle’) in issue 3/2014 of Spin, the quarterly magazine of the Turku Science Fiction Society (TSFS). The magazine can be ordered from the TSFS webpage. Flash fiction. (in Finnish)

Oh, and rejections? There were many. It’s especially heartening to see some poem or story published that has previously been rejected (many times, even). I don’t really post about my rejections, but of course they happen. A lot. Way more than acceptances. I’ve learned how to deal with them pretty well – I usually don’t take them too personally any more, although getting a rejection is always a disappointment of course.

In addition to this published stuff, I also wrote oodles of poem drafts (I really can’t be bothered to count, there’s so many), several writing exercises with potential for more, one Nanowrimo novel (crapola zero draft, but with definite potential), and some short stories. Oh, and I edited two 10k+ novelettes. NOT BAD.

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Now, what about the coming year? Here are some writing goals for 2015 (many of them, as you can see, carrying over from last year):

  • Get more stories published.
  • Get more poems published.
  • 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.
  • Continue to write more in Finnish. It’s been so great to tap into that part of my writing brain this year, so I want to continue experimenting in my other native language too.
  • Rewrite Dim Vanities entirely. Do this with the help of a proper outline.
  • Improve my plotting skills.
  • Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.
  • Submit more stuff, both prose and poetry! Try to submit something at least once a month.

In general, I’m really pleased with how much I’ve written this year and how I’ve improved as a writer. So far it’s been easy for my PhD work to coexist with my writing life – I really hope that state of affairs will continue! And I think it will, if I just make good use of my time.

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In conclusion: Dear readers, I wish all of you joy and fun writing times in this coming year!

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Sunday recs: Two stories from DSF

My PhD studies have kept me busy, but I’ve still made time for reading and writing fiction, too. For what is life without writing and reading? No, seriously, I don’t quite understand people who don’t read for fun. It’s just SO AWESOME.

Anyway, here’s two short stories that I’ve enjoyed during the past week, both from Daily Science Fiction:

Thrash by Deborah Walker. I really liked the twist in this flash story. The ending left me hankering for the story to continue, though. Intriguing world.

When it Ends, He Catches Her by Eugie Foster. A haunting, beautiful story with delicious descriptions of dance. (I just found out that Eugie Foster recently passed away. I figure reading her stories is a good way of keeping her memory alive. So do go and read.)

First story publication – in Finnish!

Exciting! A flash fiction piece of mine (‘Munankuorikehto’, meaning ‘Egg-Shell Cradle’) will be published in the upcoming issue (3/2014) of Spin, the quarterly magazine of the Turku Science Fiction Society (TSFS).

The magazine is print-only. Those of you proficient in Finnish can subscribe to the magazine, or order a separate copy when the issue comes out this autumn. :)

I’m very pleased by this news, but also amused by the fact that my “officially first” story publication is in the language I write less in! I should really write more in Finnish as well, although right now (as usual) my writerly focus is on my English-language work. Ah, bilingualism! I am very pleased I have two native languages to practise writing in, I have to say. Such different challenges in each. (A matter for a separate post, I think!)

(Kinda) Sunday recs

It’s past midnight but I’m still calling this Sunday recs because I haven’t gone to bed yet. Days, this is how they work. I’ve been good and gone to sleep before 1am for the past couple of nights, but it’s not going to happen today. But for a good reason: I’ve spent six hours editing a novelette (start to finish) and didn’t finish till past 11pm, after which I had to make the dinner that I’d neglected making earlier. Only now am I full enough and coming down from the writing high enough to even consider bed.

Anyway, enough babbling. Here’s some fairytale-themed pieces that I’ve enjoyed:

Fitting In by Katrina Robinson (in Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine): this is a pretty awesome Cinderella poem – from the shoe’s point of view!

The Faerie Tailor by Suzanne J. Willis (in Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi): gorgeous flash piece, such lyrical prose.

Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas by Alberto Yáñez (in Strange Horizons): this is such an amazing story! A powerful, beautiful story of a trans kid with a fairy godmother.

Flash fiction is rewarding

I went to check out a wonderful art installation by the Helsinki coast today, involving a huge collection of intriguing instruments made so that the wind played them. It was ethereal, gorgeous – wind-spirits singing!

As a result, I got inspired for a stuck-in-space sci-fi story. I wrote the first part on my mobile phone as I walked back through the chimes, bells, percussion and gentle booming played by the sea wind. The rest was written just now.

I may have mentioned that I usually have problems with writing short stuff, except when it comes to poetry. So, it’s pretty exceptional for me to find it so easy to write a story that’s less than 500 words. I feel rather pleased right now. Of course, it’s late again and my early-to-bed scenario looks like it’s failing – but hey! I wrote a complete flash fiction piece! Sleep is lovely, but writing is even better.

Drabble for my grandfather

Long time no blog. Busy, &c &c. ad nauseam.

Last night at my writers’ group I led an exercise on description. We each brought an interesting object and then spent five minutes writing short descriptions of each. It brought out some really good stuff, I think – a nice exercise.

And one of the objects resulted in me being engulfed by memory and sadness, and the following drabble resulted (the version below is edited from the original rough write). I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather lately, the first loved one I lost to death. Nearly nine years ago, and I miss him. I always will.

So here’s a short piece. For you, ukki.

*

From the Woodwork

I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately. Grandad, with his steady hands and carpenter’s heart. These were his, I think as I run my fingers along the battered red handles of the pliers. His hands gripped them just like I’m doing now. They feel solid. Grandad was solid too, to the last.

I blink back tears, concentrate on the object in my hands. The pliers are flecked with paint from his past projects. The jaws, well-worn from countless hours of use, are rusty now. The shape and weight of the pliers give me strange comfort. I open and close them a few times. It feels like a heartbeat.

Like Grandad’s heart, that beat too irregularly, and then stopped beating.

*