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Archive for January, 2010

My New Library Card

My new library card. Yes, I am ashamed to say, I have only just joined the local library.

Hi all, I’m back… again… yes I know I promised to start writing more often… last time I wrote… what seems like an awfully long time ago…

OK, I’m dilatory. But I’m also determined, and probably lots of other adjectives beginning with D that I can’t think of at the moment. I really am going to write more often. And this time I really mean it.

So, what are my excuses? Well, I’ve been busy. I had assignments to finish for last term’s courses. I had a student anthology to get off the ground. I was volunteered to run a poetry competition. I’ve been looking for some way of making money. And I did sweet Nothing At All over Christmas…

Bits of news

I’ve managed to get £5K worth of funding for the student anthology! This is brilliant, as we can now do some really funky stuff, like have a proper website, do some interesting things for our performances, and even get a local film-maker to put together a short film.

I’m going to be an Official Volunteer for the Southwell Poetry Festival. This means that not only do I get to run the competition, but I can hob-nob with some very well-known poets (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to name them yet, but one of them might have been Poet Laureate not so long ago) and I get free entry to all the events.

I’ve started to pick up some bits of paid work, providing practical support for students with disabilities. I start note-taking tomorrow on a course entitled ‘Derivation of Algorithms’. Gulp. But it’s all money going into the bank account.

Classes started again this week, and I realised how much I miss my fellow students during the breaks. Note to self – make sure you make more effort to keep in touch with them outside classes.

Get to the point, Pip

OK, OK. Enough rambling. So, we’re nearly at the point of making the final selections for the anthology. We had 149 pieces submitted, from 26 people. I’ve reviewed all of them, and I’ve sent them all out to 6 other reviewers to get a broad spectrum of opinion.

I used a simple feedback scheme, reviewers say for each piece whether it should be definitely included (Yes), possibly included (Maybe), or definitely left out (No). I have about 80% of the responses in so far, and I can’t resist twiddling in Excel to find out what the trends are. I came up with a couple of interesting observations earlier today

82 pieces (55%) had at least one reviewer giving each of the three responses.

Of the 11 pieces (7%) on which all reviewers were all agreed, 8 were ‘Yes’, one was ‘Maybe’ and two were ‘No’.

I would draw the following conclusion from these observations.

If something you submit to a competition or a magazine or an agent or a publisher or whatever is rejected, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

  1. It could just mean you didn’t hit one of the people that would have liked it.
  2. If it’s rejected, chances are higher that there are people out there who would disagree.

OK, the second point is (very) dodgy, and the evidence doesn’t necessarily support the first point either as my reviewers are not professionals, but I do think it’s a strong indication.

What I am taking away from this is:

Don’t lose heart. Even if your writing is excellent, chances are still high that some people won’t like it. You just need to keep trying till you find those enlightened agents or editors or competition judges who appreciate the delights that you present to them.

Here endeth today’s lesson. I have a list of subjects I want to blog about, so expect more soon 🙂

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New Year Resolution

Yes, I’ve made one. I guess it should have been ‘stick to my resolution to post here at least twice a week’. But it isn’t.

I did try to make four, but things went horribly wrong. This is what happened.

Be SMART and positive…

I read a blog post the other day that suggested the way to keep your New Year Resolutions was to make them positive and not negative. So ‘I will not overeat’ is bad. As is ‘I will avoid eating cake’. Does that mean ‘I will always eat healthy food’ is bad too? After all, it implies never eating unhealthy food, and it is therefore about as negative as you can get.

Enough of that. I’ll end up disappearing inside my own navel.

So, the first draft of my resolutions looks like this:

  • I will enter more writing competitions this year than I did last year.
  • I will finish my novel.
  • I will eat healthy food as often as possible.
  • I will embrace opportunities to meet new people.

That’s not too bad, I guess. But there are problems.

I will enter more writing competitions this year than I did last year… I don’t actually know how many I entered last year. So do I need to guess, then double it to be safe? Or maybe even triple it, because I’d hate to think there was even a possibility of missing the invisible target.

There are a couple of other possibly ambiguous areas that also need clarification. Let’s rewrite it:

  • On the assumption (and I acknowledge that this is possibly incorrect) that I entered 15 writing competitions last year, to ensure that I enter more this year I shall enter at least 25 competitions. A competition shall count as occurring in the year 2010 if its deadline is between January 1st 2010 and December 31st 2010 inclusive (although results may be announced in 2011). The total shall be made up of competitions entered rather than individual pieces entered, so if I enter three pieces for one particular competition that shall count as one entry for the purpose of this resolution.

Looking at the second resolution: I will finish my novel… On the basis that no author ever feels that a piece of work is finished, there is no chance that I will achieve this unless I define ‘finish’ very carefully. Got to make this one SMART. More rewriting required:

  • By December 31st 2010 I will have reached the point where I have completed a draft of my novel that I would feel comfortable about seeing in print. As part of this process, I will have carried out the following steps:
    • Complete first draft by end April 2010, this involves finishing the story but not polishing the text to any extent
    • Complete second draft by end July 2010

OK, I’ve had enough of this. Let’s just stick to the first resolution for now.

First resolution, third draft

So what was wrong with the last draft? Well, it doesn’t define what a competition is. Does it count as a competition if I submit something to a Mslexia themed issue? Probably not. Or what about a Leaf anthology? I think that does count. Hm. Grr.

And then there’s the little lie I told for semi-comic effect – I know exactly how many competitions I entered last year. Of course I do.

Sod it

My New Year Resolution for 2010 is:

I will enjoy writing, I will write what I want to write, I will take pride in my work.

That’ll do. A bit late, but then what can you expect?

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