And so it’s almost Christmas, and what have I done writing wise? I ask because loads of my Twitter writing pals have been summarising their writing year in terms of submissions made and the resulting rejections and acceptances. I’m truly in awe of the productivity of some of them, many of whom where aiming to make 100 subs or more in a twelve month period. I decided to tot up my own subs this year to see how I did quantity and quality wise. I subbed (and this might not be entirely accurate as I may well have forgotten the odd one) 47 times to both mags and comps, though mostly comps. The subs were for flash fictions, short stories, a memoir-in-flash and a novel first chapter comp. I was longlisted 4 times including the Bath Short Story comp and Retreat West’s First Chapter competition, short-listed 7 times including Writers HQ and Micro Madness, came 10th once (in Molotov Flash Monster), 4th once (in Sixfold’s winter short story comp – more of that later) and came second three times, in Molotov Wild Flash Competition, Retreat West’s Water themed competition and Ellipsis Magazine’s, flash collection/novella competition. My stories were published 10 times and my memoir-in-flash will be published by Retreat West Books in 2021. I also received one nomination for best micro 2019 from Flash Flood and there are three not yet judged. Not bad I reckon. I’m obviously not prolific in terms of mag subs but what I have subbed to comps has usually done okay eventually. What the figures don’t show though is that of the 47 subs, I’ve often subbed the same story maybe three times to different places. Quite often a story that is listed in one place isn’t in another which gives me a lot of heart because it shows how very subjective reading and judging can be.
That’s why I was so very pleased to come 4th in this winter’s Sixfold competition because its not judged by the few, but the many – by all participants – who rank 6 stories at a time in order of preference and give feedback too about what they felt worked and didn’t story-wise. The highest scoring stories go into round 2. The highest in round 2, go into the final round and the top 20 are published (subject to writer consent. You don’t have to if you don’t want, and as only the first place writer wins a cash prize, I’ve opted not to.) This time around 250 people entered and as I made it through to the final round I received loads of brilliant feedback much of which said the same thing. As a result, I’ve decided to improve the story in line with the comments received and enter it into comps next year to see how it does. This is the first time I’ve turned down an offer of publication, but the nature of this comp with its expert critiques and the positivity it made me feel about my story (which I wasn’t all that sure about before) and also that it allows you to opt in or out and to remain anonymous and/or not name your story if you choose not to, (as you can see from the results above) really makes me want to see how the story can do out in the world of more conventional comps. I’ve really enjoyed engaging with this comp. It costs $5 and is worth every penny even if you don’t win the $1000 prize. Having said that I think it would be better if the money was divvied up a bit more – so second and third at least are rewarded with cash too. Like at Retreat West. Here’s my running-up watery flash from there which was published a couple of weeks ago. https://www.retreatwest.co.uk/the-fairytale-ending-by-jan-kaneen/
I feel I had an real advantage theme-wise in this comp. The first pic in this blog is the view today from my cottage. I live on the edge of a flood plain opposite a changeable river, so water and what it’s up to is a real part of my life.
Anyhoo – another thing I’m really proud of this year is all the feedback I’ve been involved with. I’ve read 100s of stories and flashes in various different feedback groups and have learned soooo much from what I’ve read by others and also from the feedback I’ve received in return. Thanks to everyone who I’ve shared with this year – you know who you are. Also I’ve loved meeting cyber writing friends in real life this year and hope to meet more in 2020. Happy holidays peeps of cyberspace – hope you get the chance to do whatever makes you happiest with the people you love most over the seasonal break.