The Not So Banner Year: 2011

Wow, here we are at the end of another year. Christmas is a week or so away and the New Year is right around the corner. I have to admit, 2011 has not been a banner year for getting stories published. In all honesty, 2011 has been one of my more down years since I first started out.

Can I blame the economy?

Maybe for a couple publications, but not all of them.

Honestly, if there is anyone to blame, it would be myself.

What? Yeah, I know, right?

It is what it is and right now, it would be mostly my fault that more stories didn’t get published this year. I have my reasons for this:

I set my goals very high this year, maybe even too high to even come close to accomplishing them. To be honest, I’ve only accomplished one goal this year: to write a novel.

I did a lot of rewrites, going back and looking over stories I wrote years ago when I had no real desire to pursue publishing my work. Oh, the horrors I read—and not because the stories were horror stories, either. Some of the stories were old favorites, while others weren’t liked all that much. However, after a bit of reworking and stretching my writer’s fingers, those stories are solid… keepers.

I read a book this year. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: ‘A.J., you only read one book this year?’ Ummm… no. I read more than that (at least two), but one book had a profound impact on me, the writer. That book was Stephen King’s On Writing. The part that really stuck with me more than anything is to learn to tell the truth in our stories, in the lies that we make up for folks to read. Also, as writers, we have to enjoy the writing process, let the story lead us along, take us for a ride.

I’ve always said that I like to let my stories breathe, let them stretch their legs and run with me tagging along behind them to see where they go. But, this reaffirmed my belief in telling a story all the way through. Damn the rules that say you have to make a story compact and all action oriented. I’m a long-winded person. I can talk. Ask anyone who knows me even somewhat well. I never shut-up. I like my stories to be rich in this way, to develop my characters and scenes and hopefully… hopefully, pen a good story.

By doing so, my stories have become increasingly longer. That’s okay with me. The problem is there are not many publications that take 10-15 thousand word stories these days.

Here’s another reason, this one bothers me more so than most of the others: I may not be good enough to crack the bigger publications.

Ouch. That stings.

By changing the way I write, by not going with the standard, boring stuff and standard action, action, action stories, I have found a style I really enjoy writing in. And, I think… I think, mind you… that the readers would like the style if given a chance to read the stories.

Thankfully, that chance is coming soon. More on that later.

Part of that style I’ve developed is story telling in a rustic voice, so to speak. Kind of like Shawn Mullins in his song, Rockabye.

It’s a voice thing that I like, that I hear when writing. Its one thing that I hope comes through in the handful of stories I’ve written with that voice.

By developing a different style and voice it has taken me out of the market for constant submissions to the various publications that still remain out there.

There is the little fact of the economy. No, not my fault, but the economy effects us all, including those publications that pay money to their writers. In many cases the money just isn’t there to go around. So, what happens? Publications fold. My favorite publication (Necrotic Tissue) went under this year. I was saddened by that, but it’s the nature of the beast.

The fortunate thing is I’ve had quite a few stories shortlisted, many of them coming up on the short end of the stick (no pun intended). Still, a shortlisted story is still better than a first opinion rejection any day.

Though the publications have been few this year, I think 2012 may shape up nicely. I’ve changed a few of the goals, made a couple of them a little more attainable.

One of those goals is to post something on the blog every week, and hopefully a couple times a week. I admit, sometimes I’m lazy when it comes to maintaining the blog/website. It can be tedious work and, honestly, sometimes I have nothing to talk about. I know. I know. Me with nothing to talk about? Right…

I’ll post those goals at the beginning of January and make it a point to keep folks updated, maybe even with a running tally of the submissions and the responses.

To go along with the blog/website thing, I would like to ask you, the readers, for your opinion. What would you like to see on Type AJ Negative? What would you like to see more of? Less of? Would you like to see more of Herbie (I hear he’s dressed as a sexy Santa Clause this year)?*

I’m nearing 1000 words now and I’ve heard that a lot of folks don’t care much for overly long blogs–not from any of you, but just in general. So, I think I’ll close up shop for the day and save the rest for another post.

Until then, Herbie says ‘Hi’ and I say have a good day.

I’m A.J. and I’m out…

[[*Herbie’s Note: Sexy Santa Clause is a reference to the television show The New Girl. If you haven’t seen the Christmas episode, you have no clue what I’m talking about, thus making this an inside joke.]]

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