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Annual Writing Report - 2023

 


For months, I've been feeling as if my writing was not going well, either in terms of submitting things or even spending time doing it. It was both a vague feeling, as well as a fact based in evidence. I'm the sort of person who keeps track of things, and I could look at data such as pieces submitted, hours spent on writing, etc, and see that things were bad.

The first thing I noticed was that I just haven't submitted very much this year. I have finished a few pieces and sent them out, but only 24 times so far in 2023. This is much lower than my submission rates in recent years, as shown in the above graph. The lowest number of submissions in recent years is for 2019, when I was battling breast cancer. There's at least an explanation for that! This year is lower than even 2019, so I needed to dig a little deeper to understand what's going on.

In addition to keeping track of submissions, I also log my writing time. Despite having totaled these hours up each week, I really didn't have a good sense about how much I was writing, since I never looked at monthly or yearly totals, much less at any trends.

So, last week, I started adding up entries in my little writing log book. When I saw that I'd written for a grand total of three and a half hours in the entire month of April and only 45 minutes (total!) in September, I knew this was going to be a bad year. I kept on tallying things, calculating the total hours spent writing for each month, then averaging over the months of the year. I did this all the way back to 2017, the year after I received my MFA, and was shocked to see the result:

 That first year is probably an anomaly, since I had so much work in the pipeline from my master's program and the writing just poured out. The next year is low, but I don't trust that number since I apparently did not keep track of any writing for most of the year. 2019 is, again, the year I was battling illness, but then things get back on track.

Until they don't. There is a clear and obvious decline, year by year, in the amount of time I spend actually writing. If one were to lay a ruler on the above graph for the last four years and ask where this is headed, it looks like one would predict that Raima will stop writing completely in two years time.

And I don't want that. Not by a long shot! So, something needs to change. I've already set a rule for myself that I will write for at least 15 minutes every morning Monday - Friday, and so far I've had a pretty good initial week. This is a slightly early new year's resolution, and my plan is to continue doing this into the new year.

Last year at about this time I announced that I was starting a new position as Assistant Fiction Editor for Utopia Science Fiction Magazine. I have done that for over a year now, and was elevated to Nonfiction Editor several months ago. We are still going strong, and it's been a real pleasure to work with the other editors and staff of this great scifi publication. Although it's been a lot of work, I can't really blame my lack of productivity (summarized above) on this volunteer position, since I've been reading for literary journals of one sort or another for several years. This type of work has been, and continues to be, a real joy and I have no intention of giving it up.

In addition to the distressing data shown above, I had a some good news in my writing life this year. My flash fiction piece, Maude's Place, was published by Flash Fiction Magazine back in January. This was the only new piece I had published this year, but Big Blue Marble was reprinted as part of the 5th year anniversary anthology for Utopia Science Fiction. Perhaps with some of the new year's resolutions noted above, I can improve on these statistics next year. I'll keep on keeping track and will report back in a year. 

Wishing everyone the best in the coming year!


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