2022 marks ten years since I tried writing short stories. Technically, I wrote my first one–that I acknowledge–in 2010, but that was dabbling and naïve ambition. 2011 was learning, and January 2012 brought my first short story acceptance: “The Food Acquisition Breakdown,” in wonderful but fledgling Canadian lit e-journal. There was no need to convert any payment currency.
Ten years later, I’ve done okay. Lots of folks deservedly enjoyed a more productive decade, but I’ll take going from not writing at all to having a body of work. More importantly, I’m still at it. This Whole Writing Thing can be brutal. Creative endurance, rewrite exasperation, inevitable rejections. Add in life stuff, and each day offers reasons not to write.
In 2022, I’ll be having a little fun with 10-year recollections. I recently wrote about celebrating little milestones, so why not celebrate a big one? 2022 is also a year to celebrate a 10th story for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Not sure when it’ll run, but I’m working on a statistical recap–you read that correctly–of things those 10 stories have in common. Or don’t have in common. I’ve been known to changes things up. Still, ten is sample enough that other folks might see what story lengths and elements catch the eye of a revered market.
It’s not about that, in the end. Not the markets, not the edits, not the attention to writing process. It’s about the journey, how writing can make you a better and more understanding human being. That’s my first planned essay, next month at Sleuthsayers.
As for my ten-year journey, a few fun numbers to get started:
- Stories accepted: 38.
- Longest accepted story: 6,200 words, “The Cumberland Package,” AHMM (2016)
- Longest accepted story to a lit journal: 4,500 words, “The Carcassonne Dream,” Swamp Biscuits & Tea (2013)
- Shortest story published: 700 words, “Over Before It Started,” Akashic Books’ Mondays Are Murder series (2020)
- Stories accepted but the market folded before publishing: 2 (1 re-sold, 1 available)
- Most rejections before an acceptance: 11
- Most rejections, no acceptance: 11 (it got an honorable mention in a contest, so I got that going for me)
- Nations as settings in an accepted story, including international waters: 8 (U.S. 23 times, France 9, others 6)
Okay, that’s trivia, but I’m celebrating. What I’m after most, though, is that any lessons learned help others improve their own stuff. If nothing else, to encourage staying in that writing chair. It’s worth it.