How Not To Write A Novel – Poetry, Sketches, and Short Stories

November sketches – study of my daughter’s adorable face

Good morning lovely readers. It’s been a while since I wrote a chatty post, hasn’t it? Months, in fact, so with the year coming to an end, I thought I should crack out the virtual ink and let you all know what I’ve been up to. At first glance, I wasn’t sure I’d managed to do that much, but then I delved a bit deeper and it turns out that 2021 was really quite good.

I had two main aims for 2021. Send out more submissions than last year, and finish redrafting my 2020 NaNoWriMo. When it comes to sending out my work, I did well. Thirty-six separate submissions (both poetry and prose), with four, currently pending, two accepted, (Riverbed Review) and (Hencroft Hub), and thirty rejections. Last year’s totals were fourteen submissions, three acceptances, and eleven rejections. On the face of it, last year was a better result but I’m focusing on redrafting the rejection and improving each one. Most of the rejection emails were really positive, and a few even gave feedback. Almost all of them encouraged me to send more work so I will be finishing 2021 with a stronger collection of poems and a list of journals to try again with during 2022. I’m determined I will eventually find a home for my one short story that has been rejected seven times this year. Almost every rejection was the same “we enjoyed your story but it’s not quite right for us”.
The novel has not progressed really. Edits have been made in places, but not enough that I’m confident about finishing the redraft before New Year.

November sketches – Modern Medusa

While I’ve only had two poems accepted for publication this year, I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in two other projects. The wonderful Sarah Connor has invited me to take part in her poetry advent calendar, and the brilliantly talented Mark Sheeky asked if I would be interested in writing a couple of ekphrastic poems for his upcoming exhibition in Nantwich Museum. Both of these opportunities come from getting involved in local, and online writing groups, and show the importance of community in art. Creative people can be quite insular, but finding like-minded people allows us the chance to expand on what we do, not only through feedback but through other artists’ work. Being asked to partake in these events was a good reminder that even if I sometimes feel a bit lost after yet another rejection, I’ve come so far with my writing and I have managed to surround myself with creative people who value my work.

Mark Sheeky’s exhibition runs from the 11th January 2022 to the 5th March 2022, and I’ll have the opportunity to perform my poems as part of a reading event. I’ve not had a chance to read live since the start of lockdown, and the exhibition’s poetry night will be my second event since Covid kicked off. My first reading back will be in a couple of weeks at a local open mic. Fingers crossed, it should be a good turnout, and hopefully, I haven’t forgotten how to string a real-life sentence to another real-life human over the last couple of years.

November sketches – Still Life of my daughter’s toys

Other than writing, I’ve been sketching. Mostly little doodles of my daughter (1 completely unfinished as she woke up and moved), an inked drawing of modern Medusa which goes with a poem the Daily Drunk published last year, and a still life of the mess that comes with having an almost four month old. So many toys, so little interest in them. Apparently her fist is a much better toy than any I could provide.

There is still a little bit of 2021 left for me to send out some more poems, find another journal for my short story. I might even get around to redrafting some of my novel (my daughter’s teething allowing). For a year where I was either pregnant, or caring for a small, squirmy human, I’d say it has gone rather well. Now I just need to wrap things up as best I can, and open a new spreadsheet for 2022.

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