2020: Making the best of it

None of us got what we expected this year, that’s for certain. Some endured a horror story. Others of us looked on, aghast but not too severely affected as events unfolded. I was one of the lucky ones. I hope you were, too. If not, you have my deepest sympathy. I hope things improve for you in 2021.

On the writing front, this has been a good year for me. I’ve seen my work published and I’ve been busy on new projects. For some reason, bad times tend to galvanise me. That’s what happened in 2020.

This year, I’ve seen new stories published in Nature Futures (On This Day, my first there since 2013), the Vast anthology from Orchid Lantern (Dreamtime), plus two stories in the Flash in a Flash newsletter (Laying the Table and Everything’s Better with Ads). I gave readings of Dreamtime and On This Day at Virtual Futures events in 2018 and 2019. I’ve also seen reprints of my stories published in the Milford SF Writers Christmas blog, Wyldblood Press’s inaugural Wyld Flash, in the Ghost Stories for Starless Nights anthology from DBND Publishing, plus my first translation into Spanish appeared in El Futuro del Ayer, Hoy (an anthology).

For 2021, The book of Love is scheduled to make its first appearance on the 1st of January at The Quiet Reader, another new story is forthcoming in an anthology from PS Publishing, plus there should be reprints at Sahitya Subarno (Bengali translation) and The Dread Machine. Other reprints are due to appear in the Worth 1,000 Words: A Flash in a Flash anthology, Mortal Realm’s SF anthology, and in an untitled Italian astronomy-themed anthology.

In all, I received eleven acceptances this year, seven of them for reprints. Those came from well over one hundred submissions. Contrary to expectation, I found no lack of places to send my stories this year. The high rejection rate is just one of those things a writer has to learn to put up with. One needs a thick skin and a perseverance mindset.

The year started slowly in terms of my writing work, but the Spring lockdown in the UK spurred me into action. I wrote first drafts of several short stories, one of which – Laying the Table – I’ve completed and seen published. More importantly, I decided to start a new novel project (having abandoned the previous one in 2019). I had three possibilities, which I struggled to choose between. Eventually, I decided to write the first three chapters of each novel, partly to see how much I enjoyed the process, but also to put them in front of (virtually!) the writers’ group I belong to. I did this not to duck the decision-making, but rather to assess and understand my peers’ reactions to the themes and characters. Happily, the novel opening that received the strongest positive response was also the one I’d most enjoyed writing. Less happily, it was also the one I knew least about in terms of where it was heading. So, I spent most of the summer and autumn developing the novel’s plot and character arcs. By the beginning of November, I was ready to start writing. So far, I’ve managed over 33000 words of A Place in Time. The most difficult to write parts of the novel are to come, but I will do everything I can to complete the first draft in 2021 and then let a few trusted writers look at it. The other two novel openings also have their strengths, so I expect to develop them further at some point. I’ve also begun a long-term project to write a non-fiction book, or perhaps a website, about one of my favourite although now obscure authors. I’m in the re-reading and information gathering phase of the project at the moment, which will take at least another year. So, I am in the happy position of having plenty of big projects to work on for the foreseeable future.

2020 also saw me release a new collection of my published fiction. The Last Moonshot & Other Stories is available as an e-book and print-on-demand paperback from Amazon.

This year did not feature attendance at any writing-related events, at least in person. I can’t see that changing much next year.

Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and happier 2021.