Friday, November 13, 2015

The One-Year Anniversary of This Blog

Take that, Eric Rasmussen from one year ago. You said, I heard you say it, "I'll start this blog, but I know I'm just going to end up ignoring it." Proved you wrong.

The lake that inspired manuscript #3
To mark the first year of this effort, here's an update on my writing progress. Writers navigating the publishing labyrinth love reading about other writers' progress. There are gobs of places to read people's success stories, not so many places to compare one's data to those who are still fighting the noble fight. So, here are my stats.

Output: 
Since making the decision to pursue writing fiction as a professional, I have written three complete manuscripts (about 900 pages), seven short stories (about 140 pages), fourteen original creative nonfiction blog posts, a few articles for Volume One. I write just about every day. A lot of it is bad. Some of it is okay.

Successes: 
My goal was a blog post every two weeks, for a total of 26 posts. I hit 35, and one of them, Things I Left in My Classroom Over the Summer, hit 2300 views (thanks Reddit, I know you're not big on the blogs). My Volume One pieces have earned much positive feedback from friends, family, and strangers. Manuscript one earned one partial request. Manuscript two received seventeen total requests. Manuscript three enticed eight agents to look at more of the work, with numerous queries still outstanding, and a selection in a Twitter pitch contest (thanks Michelle!) Over fifty short story submissions with my name on them are being considered by various journals and websites. Through all of this I've made connections with all sorts of folks in the publishing world, including a handful of critique partners who I value profoundly. Lots of real-life, non-digital friendships have been strengthened through these writing efforts and a phenomenal writing group.

I used to waste a lot of time on the internet and watching HGTV shows. Now I'm working on something, towards something, and no matter what else, that feels good.

In the story, under this ridge, something exciting happens

Failures: 
93 rejections on manuscript one. 70 rejections on manuscript two. 51 rejections on number three, so far. A dozen rejections from short story and literary journals. For all the effort, I have not yet technically published any fiction.

Next steps:
I enrolled in an MFA program (Augsburg College, yo!), starting June of 2016. Manuscript number four sits prettily at 200 pages, and my goal is to finish by the New Year. Short story ideas abound. This blog is an actual thing. Motivation and hope persist.

The unbelievable, epic, heartbreaking ending takes place on a
frozen lake, much like this
When I started this trip, I thought what I wanted sat just over the next hill. Two states later, I'm still driving, convinced that we'll get there any minute now. If I am epically, monumentally wrong, I'll hit the ocean eventually, and it sure has been a pretty drive.

This blog, year two, stay tuned...

4 comments:

  1. This past year I discovered your blog from reddit. Each writing of yours that I read shows the effort and meaning you place in life and expression. I just really enjoy your thoughts, insights, and interpretations on society and the way of life in Wisconsin . But on the other hand it also brings me regret. Reason being is that I was also a student of your for two years.(class of 08) As I look back on it I was a lousy student and an immature teenager that was unsure of myself and yet still full of myself. I consistently didnt turn in work and if I did it I didnt put in as much effort as I should have plus I skipped your class a few times too. In the end I simply didnt give as much time, effort, or enthusiasm towards the class as you did as the teacher. Ever since I (barely) graduated high school it seems that your teachings and insights stick out more so then many other teachers I had . So I thank you for being an awesome teacher and mentor when I was a piss poor student.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the note. It means a lot, really. Given the climate of late in public schools, it's getting harder to find moments that make it all worth it, and hearing this is definitely one of those moments.

      And please don't apologize for being a lackluster student. High school is valid, worthwhile, etc., but it's also only one opportunity to shine, and a lot of people need other opportunities. Like me. I slept through most (no exaggeration) of my junior and senior year English classes, didn't think about teaching until my early twenties, didn't think about pursing writing until my mid-30's. I'm glad I was able to offer some benefit. Take care out there.

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    2. Eric, I am a huge fan of how you manage to put words together. You offer much insight in a very genuine way. You are about as real as they get, and I wish you so much luck on year two! I can't wait to see who bites; they will be glad that they did! Jenna K.

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    3. Geez, Jenna, that's enough to make me a little teary. Thanks a ton. I shall keep plugging away.

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