During Spring Festival 2012, which ran through January into February in China, I was an ESL teacher, which meant an extended break from class. One of the best things about being a teacher, especially at a university, is all the holidays.
Being a frustrated writer, I made it my first mission to submit everything I had lying gathering dust on my hard drive. Novels, novellas, short stories, articles, everything. As it turned out, it was a worth-while exercise. My love life might have been a perpetual mess, but writing-wise, 2012 was the most successful year of my career by far with a novel, a novella and eight short stories published in different places, along with a couple of articles and a bunch of reviews. Paradoxically, I didn’t actually write much more new material other than a new novella set in World War I called No Man’s Land, and a few short stories.
What I did do, apart from submit everything I had, was re-write the first book in my Joshua Wyrdd teenage adventure series for a publisher, who then rejected it anyway. Great start. After that I edited and re-edited the two books that did end up coming out last year, Devil’s Island (on Rainstorm Press) and Rainbow’s End (Flarefont Publishing). At the same time I worked on a screenplay for a client and a book I ghosted for a friend who recently had a stroke. I also kept up a steady stream of reviews for Morpheus Tales magazine.
I set up this blog in the summer of 2012 and set about trying to get a following, then I concentrated on trying to promote Devil’s Island. I sent out around a dozen review copies, and emailed around 50 horror magazines and websites offering review copies and/or a guest blogs, profiles, or interviews. In the interests of shameless self-promotion, I also updated my Amazon Author Central and Author’s Den pages, and did a lot of marketing on Facebook, etc. No sooner was the Devil’s Island promo stint over, then the whole thing began again with Rainbow’s End, only this time it was even harder as I was trying to break a new market, the subject matter not being what I usually write about.
No matter what else I’m doing, I always try to keep an eye open for any new markets and maintain my submission rate. That takes up a fair chunk of time. I keep other things up to date; my Duotrope tracker (when it was a free service), my professional log, where I keep notes on all my submissions, successes and failures, and various other things I have going at any one time, like my ‘Strange Communications’ file where I record some of the funnier or more bizarre verbal exchanges I have with (usually Chinese) people. Some weeks, that expands at an alarming rate. In addition, I read as widely as time allows.
I’m not complaining. I know nothing worthwhile is easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Also, I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that generally speaking, people are selfish bastards and do what they want most of the time. Meaning that if I didn’t really want to do these things, I wouldn’t. I’d watch TV or get drunk instead. I don’t know what drives me, that’s a whole other blog – one I intend to write after the intensive therapy sessions. Joke. I just know that wherever possible, I do what makes me happy. In the words of the great Bruce Springsteen… It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive!
But damn it, I wish there were more hours in a day. I never feel satisfied, I always feel like I could have done more. I get the feeling I’m racing against the clock. Which is exactly what I’m doing, every day, in a sense.
And so are you.