It’s been a year: 2020 in review

I’m not going to linger too much on a year that was, well–you lived it, you know. Below is my 2020, writing-wise.

The headline: I submitted more short fiction in 2020 than in every previous year combined. Since my first-ever submission to an NPR Three-Minute Fiction contest in 2013, I’ve had a fairly erratic submission history, including a handful of years (’13, ’14, ’18) where I only managed a single sub. While my focus has regularly been elsewhere throughout this time–novel work, work-work, etc–a lot of it came down to putting my stories aside right before a final revision, the last step before I’d consider them ready to go on sub.

Thinking back, forgoing that final revision (and effectively trunking the story) is a form of self-rejection. After all, if I don’t take the training wheels off a story, I’ll never know if it can ride unaided or not. This year I was much better about taking off the training wheels and giving my stories a good push.

Since I track my short fiction progress in Mario Party terms, here’s a look at my final tally of stars (stories drafted) & coins (submissions):

On the stories drafted side, 11 is the most stories I’ve ever drafted in a single year. Of those, two were short stories, and nine were flash. Eight of them were produced for Codex contests, which provide the much-needed deadlines this ex-journalist craves. On the submissions side, of the 11 different stories I submitted, five of them were first drafted this year. I submitted to 19 different markets, 13 of which I’d never submitted to before.

I was thrilled to have “Acquisition: Earth” published in Translunar Travelers Lounge. Additionally, I just sold a story to another incredible market, and I look forward to sharing that story, too!

Now, with all of the above said, did I meet the goals I set out at the beginning of the year? Not even close! But I didn’t set submission or publication goals, so I’m quite happy with how things turned out. Shoot moon, land stars.

Other highlights from a wretched year:

  • Like many people, I got into baking. Primarily bagels, which I made cheerfully and ceaselessly
  • I backpacked across the US, sailed the Caribbean, and fought pirate crocodiles in Donkey Kong Country—all from the comfort of my own home!
  • Inspired by countless Inktober posts, I started drawing again after a long hiatus. I’m gearing up to do Inktober in 2021
A salve for the soul

Wishing you a safe and joyful start to what hopefully will be a better year.

New Story Available: “Acquisition: Earth”

I’m stoked to have a new story published in Translunar Travelers Lounge. It actually kicks off Issue 3, but you’ll do yourself a favor if you stick around and read the rest of the issue. TTL’s focus is on publishing fun stories, a welcome respite in these fun-starved times.

“Acquisition: Earth” is about an alien who’s tasked with integrating Earth into a galactic corporation. It’s a sci-fi humor story that’s a little Invader Zim, a little Office Space, and that takes less than 5 minutes to read, so hop on over to the Lounge and read it!

The Mario Party Method for Goal Tracking

A whiteboard with a star count of 7 and a coin count of 25
My stars and coins at the beginning of August.

Since last year, I’ve been using Mario Party-inspired shorthand for tracking some of my short fiction-related writing goals. I “collect” a star every time I write a story and a coin every time I submit a story, a simple technique that works for me because my gamer brain loves gamification. Read more about it on Medium.