Hard Work Works (thank you 2022!)

This is basically a “part two” to my recent “Failing at NaNoWriMo & Winning at Rejections” post.

This year (2022) has been pretty incredible. I’ve met dozens of cool writers, joined writers’ groups, and I’ve gotten more acceptances than I have in several past years combined. What made this magic? I worked my ASS off.

Which is really good news. That there is nothing ethereal or fate based that leads to writing success. Just good old-fashioned sweat and tears. And that also means there are no shortcuts (at least not for most folks).

Success is relative, I know. And people take different paths to the same or similar places. Mine went like this:

-Joined the Horror Writers Association in early 2022 (March?) after earning an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Etched Onyx Winter Contest. That story, “A Bargain at Twice the Price,” (a ghost story) earned enough that I qualified to join the HWA as an Affiliate Member.

-After joining, figured “What the hell? I’ll go to StokerCon” (May). I knew no one. I mean no one. But I had the best time there, and met so many wonderful people, from big-name authors like Brian Keene to other people like me, struggling to find a path.

-Was so inspired by StokerCon—the people and the presentations and the panels—that I decided on the way home to quit my second job as the managing editor of Leapfrog Press. I deserved time to write, and my writing deserved my time and attention. This realization hit me with a stunning clarity at about midnight on the plane from Atlanta to Buffalo.

-Wrote. Wrote and wrote and wrote. I produced so much new content in 2022, especially over the summer, when I was finishing up with Leapfrog and before the fall semester started (I teach at SUNY Fredonia).

-But I didn’t just write. I joined a workshop with other writers in the horror community who ended up with me the same way folks end up owning cats—I was dumb and hungry; they were kind. I started another workshop with a few people I’d met at StokerCon. I workshopped with other students from Lindsay Merbaum’s independent studies (we are her happy little cult members). And I continued to workshop with my friends from grad school. Outside of those groups, I also beta read for people who needed it and joined social media groups of people with similar goals. I learned so much from those other writers, by reading their work, getting feedback on my own stuff, and sharing our successes and challenges.

-Took every chance I got for affordable independent education. With Lindsay, I learned about Feminist Horror and Queer Speculative Realism, and more recently, witches. I’ll be taking another independent study with her in 2023 on ghosts. (If you are interested in joining us, let me know and I’ll connect you with Lindsay.) I paid for a few developmental editing sessions with an awesome writer and friend. I took workshops through Defunkt Magazine’s Litfest. And I went to other one-off virtual workshops and panel discussions I found through Event Brite.

-Along with all that, I submitted a ton, too. My goal for 2020 was #100rejections. That meant I’d have to submit over 100 times, because I had to factor in the likelihood of a few acceptances. I just hit 150 submissions, with about a ten percent acceptance rate. I sailed past 100 rejections. A friend called submitting work “sending tiny missives of hope out into the universe,” and that’s exactly what it feels like.

-Finished my manuscript of speculative and slipstream stories—you can call it quiet horror or eerie horror or feminist horror or dark fiction. It’s a collection of 13 stories, and I’m currently trying to find a home for it. Some of those stories patiently waited to be revised for ten years. I’m so glad I kept my faith in them.

-I also put together a poetry chapbook manuscript, after being surprised I had enough poems to do so. (I’m primarily a fiction writer.) But I saw a chapbook contest being advertised by Mausoleum Press, and I took a chance. My poetry made their shortlist, but did not ultimately get selected. Getting that far, though, told me my poems had merit. That was further proved by Nocturne Magazine nominating my poem “Still Love” for a Pushcart Prize. The second press that got my poetry manuscript said it came close. Then I got an acceptance! More on that when I have details to share.

-There were so many “firsts” for me in 2022. In addition to being nominated for the Pushcart Prize, I was nominated for a teaching award at work. I was invited to be a part of an upcoming anthology-magazine hybrid (and my story was accepted). I was invited to be a guest on a podcast (still in the works, so no details right now). I made it into a dream anthology that I thought was such a longshot (Shakespeare Unleashed). And of course, there’s the to-be-published poetry collection that I’m so happy about.

-Oh! And I started and abandoned a novella, then started another novella that I’m happy with (and still need to finish), and the novel notes I mentioned before from my first NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got big hopes for 2023. I hope to get my collection picked up. I hope to finish my novella (spicy ghosty gothic), “Forgive Us Our Trespasses.” I hope to make lots of progress on the novel I tried to start during NaNoWriMo.

And I hope I will get another #100rejections.

Happy Writing to you all!

One thought on “Hard Work Works (thank you 2022!)

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  1. You are a beautiful writing beast! Congratulations on all of your hard work and perseverance. You deserve every single accolade and award, but the best part of it all is knowing you’re putting your passion first and it’s paying you back in a million ways. Here’s to another adventure next year

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