Saturday, December 30, 2006

Writey Awards for 2006

Another year has come to an end and instead of taking one of the dozen of surveys submitted to me on Myspace.com asking me to note whether I have kissed in the rain or met a celebrity this year, I decided to take stock of my year in writing. If you're thinking about writing maybe this will give you a little insight into what you can expect. If you are a writer, then this inventory might be too common to illicit sympathy. Regardless, here is what all those envelopes sent to strangers have gotten me this year.

2006 was my first year in writing after earning my M.F.A. from Spalding University. The previous two and a half years were a wonderful time, during which I was allowed to speak the common language of literature with incredibly helpful and warm faculty and friends. With the degree in hand, I started out 2006 determined to make my diploma more significant than just a piece of paper in a drawer. Here is a brief count of the numbers for this year.

Number of submissions (novel, short stories, etc.): 74

Number of rejections: 43

Number of acceptances: 1

Number of submissions awaiting response: 30

Number of publications that lost my submission: 1 (as far as I know)

While this might look grim to some, it should actually be encouraging. 2006 wasn't that bad a year all things considered. I had two things come out in print, and I have three more pending publication. Also the large number of submissions awaiting response is due to the fact that most every publication takes three months or longer to respond to submissions. Add to that the holidays (basically forget anything being accomplished in from late October to early January) and this year could still turn out great. It might sound like a silly hope, but as a writer you depend of silly hopes because sometimes they come true.

Since I covered the large number of submissions from this year awaiting response, I might as well go through some of the other numbers since numbers have no emotional value and therefore are the arch-enemies of writers. Below are my Writey Awards for 2006.

Best Comments From a Rejection Letter (non-form):

"...the resulting narrative is at once fresh, sardonic, disturbing, and emotionally powerful."
-Zoetrope: All-Story

"...I admire the giddy nature of your writing.."
- Zoetrope: All-Story

"..it (the story) was among the top ten finalists.."
-Alligator Juniper

* Please understand that I actually agree with these rejections, and they helped me revise my work. I include these because they are "nice rejections." Next to be accepted, a hand-written note wishing you the best and encouraging you to re-submit is as good as it gets.

Worst form rejection slip:

Any form rejection designed to be the size of a playing card to save paper. Several journals use these.

Best form rejection slip:

Santa Monica Review
(It has this great, "Look, we know how it feels..." opening.)

Best Comment from an acceptance letter:
"Wonderful story! Very real, and gritty.." Heartlands

*Other publications that have accepted my work and/or printed it this year received the work before 2006 and therefore were not eligible for a Writey.

Most confusing and/or frustrating moment of 2006:

Two stories named finalists in contest with well-known judge, and set to be published in August. Not sent galleys until October, and told they would be published in November. Issue still not out, and my last email to the publisher (in December) has not been returned.

Honorable mention: Story submitted to publisher in December of 2005. Emailed publisher after six months to find out status. Not told that the story was lost until October after two months of correspondence with secretary.

Best Moment of 2006:

Walking into a bookstore, opening a glossy newly printed book, and being able to see something I wrote inside it.

The Writeys Awards for 2006 above do not include the whole meandering process of trying to get my novel published, as that would be a whole essay in itself. To give you an idea of what it has entailed so far though, my novel has been rejected by nineteen different publishers and literary agents. The publishers have for the most part not read the book, and suggested I get an agent. The literary agent have for the most part ignored my query letter (one actually sent the envelope back unopened.) My novel has been with a publisher for five months now, and I haven't heard anything which is generally a good sign. I hope for the best, and keep the envelopes in the mail.