Success is Relative


“Success is relative,” said the unsuccessful man.

Story a Day sounds like a great idea in every month between July and May.  I don’t count June, because I need a month of recovery and asking myself, “What the fuck was I thinking?”  I’ll be gung ho about it again in July, I’m sure.

This is the second year that I’ve done the challenge, and I can say that even if I didn’t get thirty-one stories this year, I did kick last year me’s ass.  I’ve written around 17,000 new words.  I have fourteen full first drafts, two uncompleted first drafts, and three blog posts.  Yes, I’m counting blog posts, even this one.  You got a problem with that?

This year has already been much more productive than last year.  Not only did I write more, I’m also much happier with what I’ve written.  Out of sixteen stories, there’s only one that I suspect might not go anywhere, or will be absorbed into something else later.

I have my entry for Contest Two: “Una Mujer” at Spark: A Creative Anthology , and another story that I plan to submit there for Volume IV.  I wrote five humorous pieces, just to show myself and others that I can be funny and that people don’t always have to die in my writing.

I tried my hand at some experimental pieces, after reading some off the wall writing on a website dedicated to that.  I found that I still can’t do that very well.  I do like my writing to have meaning, be well punctuated, etc., so I guess that’s not for me.  I tried.

At this point, I think you’ve figured out that when it comes to self-evaluation, I grade on a curve.  There is bad news, of course.

I don’t have discipline.  I know that many writers have stated that you have to write no matter how you feel, whether you feel the inspiration or not.  I still haven’t figured out how to do this, and spent many hours this month with no idea how to start or finish a story.  Some ideas took several days to form in my mind.  Since I don’t generally write more than 2,000 words per story, that’s not impressive.

I can’t write outside my own genre very well.  Although I had a few ideas for horror or speculative fiction stories, they’re still there in the idea bank, not a word written from those prompts.

So what about next year?  How will I make it through 31 days, one story every day?  How can I make myself write, start to finish, every day, even if it’s outside my comfort zone?

I haven’t the foggiest.  I have ten months to think about it.

Because June doesn’t count, remember.

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9 Responses to Success is Relative

  1. Love this post! Just what genre are you? I think of you as eclectic. 🙂 Mind sharing what the experimental website you read was? Sounds like I something I should have perused that the beginning of May instead of the end.

    Good luck with Spark!

  2. Thanks, Wendy. Here’s the website I mentioned:

  3. Spark Editor says:

    “People don’t always have to die in my writing.” — Love it.

  4. ED Martin says:

    I think one of the benefits of Story-A-Day is realizing more about your writing process, about what works and what doesn’t, and what you need to focus on for next time.

    And making pretty charts and spreadsheets to track your process, so you can see just how much better you did than the year before.

    • Yes! I love the pretty charts.

      I need to work on that writing process, definitely, but I think the most important thing is to start pushing myself outside the comfort zone and write things I’ve shied away from so far. I did it a little last year, a little more this year, but between now and next May I really need to expand my horizons.

      • ED Martin says:

        What kind of horror and speculative fiction are you wanting to write? I find that for myself, it’s easier to think of a story as character-driven with elements of a genre, rather than full-out in that genre. And I think if you consider it that way, you’re there with the horror, at least with your story about the guy who kidnapped the little boy.

        A good angle to approach spec fiction is with magical realism (which I love). Again, it’s taking that everyday situation and character-driven story, and throwing in something unreal. You could definitely do that with what you’re writing already.

        And maybe then, after you’ve gotten those down, move on to the serial killers and demons and aliens and sword-and-sorcery stories.

  5. Well, when you put it that way, I guess I am on my way. A year ago, I wouldn’t have written that story, and there is some magical realism in a few of my stories.

    I do get frustrated sometimes when I come up with a great idea, then stare at the blank page, with no idea where to go with it. Sometimes I want to pass it off to somebody else. I suppose that’s it more than saying to myself, “I have to write a fairy story (or sci-fi or whatever).” It’s feeling comfortable with any idea that comes along that I know can work, but still feel that I can’t work it.

    If that makes any sense.

    • ED Martin says:

      I run into that same problem all the time; I have an idea – a premise, a character – but no specific plot. If I force the story, it ends up being crap. So what I usually do is just write down the idea in a blank document, save it in my Unfinished folder, and move on. Every few months I go back through that folder, and sometimes I can turn the idea into a story because I’ve been thinking about it in the back of my mind for awhile, puzzling through until it’s coherent and whole. And sometimes I realize that I’m still not ready to write that story, so I put it back in the folder for awhile.

      Maybe I should learn to push myself, but right now I’m so busy, with so many ideas fighting for attention, that I go with the most adamantly-wanting-to-be-written stories first. So I definitely admire your drive.

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