January 1st, 2009


State of the Author Address, January 2009

I’m getting into the habit of tallying my professional accomplishments at the end of the year. Here, then, are the milestones from 2008:

The most noteworthy accomplishment of the year is the success of my Poetry Fishbowl project; I’m exploring cyberfunded creativity with promising results. I’ve hosted a fishbowl every month, and the general trend of donations is gradually increasing. I’ve written 278+ poems this year. 59 fishbowl poems have been published in The Wordsmith’s Forge and 42 poems have been published in various other markets. My poem “The Ghost of Christmas Presence” won 1st Place in A Hint of Poetry holiday contest, and “Artifacts of Intelligent Design” won 2nd Place in the 2008 SFPA Poetry Contest. On the whole, this has been an excellent year for poetry.

While I didn’t get much fiction written – only one new story – it was still a pretty good year for fiction. I submitted 12 stories to assorted markets, and I sold 4 stories: “Pvaga and the Censor” to The Lorelei Signal, “Peacock Hour” to Triangulation: Taking Flight, “Goldenthread” to The Scorched Earth, and “Clean Sweep” to The Lorelei Signal.

Nonfiction generally fared well. I wrote over 64 nonfiction pieces this year, and had at least 46 published. As usual the biggest batch went into the Llewellyn annuals including Llewellyn’s 2010 Herbal Almanac, Llewellyn’s 2010 Magickal Almanac, and Llewellyn’s 2010 Spell-a-Day Almanac. I have resigned from the Grey School of Wizardry. I have also launched a new blog, Hypatia’s Hoard of Reviews. This blog reprints some of my earlier reviews of books, music, and other items; it also includes author announcements, publishing news, and other tidbits. I’ve joined a shared-world project called Torn World that should open some time during 2009; I’m involved with characterization and world-building, especially helping to build a language family. This will become another cyberfunded creativity project once it opens to the public.

Book-length work got interesting. I wrote 1 book proposal and assembled complete manuscripts for 4 books. Three of the latter were requested – all on the same day! So I wound up submitting a total of 5 book-length works to various people. I also edited 2 books this year.

The Big Year-End Writing Project

I am finally done with the big year-end writing project. What happened is that several projects that should've gotten finished earlier, didn't, and I decided that I needed to finish them all by the end of the year. That meant writing one Pagan nonfiction book proposal and assembling two full-size poetry book manuscripts, and working on various stages of all three more or less at the same time.

Triplets = Very Bad Idea. Note to self: never do this again.

My partner Doug valiantly rose to the occasion and helped me get everything polished, assembled, and submitted. I am very very glad to have those things off my desk and onto someone else's desk. Hopefully they'll sell. Witch me luck, eh?

Goals for 2009

So far, I've tallied my accomplishments from 2008. Now I'm thinking ahead.

Here are some of my goals for 2009:

  • Find new agent to replace the one that resigned from the agency.
  • [MISSED]

  • Place one new book-length project on the market, either by writing a book proposal or by writing a complete book manuscript.
  • [EDIT: 24 Welsh form + several Welsh language poems add up to a chapbook.][DONE]

  • Finish writing the poems needed to complete The 50 Poetic States collection. Keep shopping around the proposal for it in hopes of finding an editor who likes it and can afford to buy it.
  • [MISSED]

  • Write at least 250 poems. Continue holding one Poetry Fishbowl per month.
  • [EDIT: Total poems in 2009: 269+][DONE]

  • Sell poetry to at least 3 new markets.
  • [EDIT: Heroic Fantasy Quarterly 7/1/09, Torn World 7/1/09, The 3rd Annual SFPA Poetry Contest 2008: Energy anthology][DONE]

  • Write at least 3 stories. Take more care not to let fiction engine idle until things spurt out sideways at inopportune times. (EDIT: "The Girl Who Spoke Toads" written 3/11/09, "Tessie and the Door" 3/14/09, "Fala the Leader" 10/9/09.)
  • [DONE]

  • Edit at least 3 stories that have already been written, and put them on the market. [EDIT: "Today I Speak" 11/17/09, "Fala the Leader" 12/31/09.]
  • [MISSED, but came 2/3 way there.]

  • Experiment with cyberfunded creativity for fiction. [EDIT: "Today I Speak" 11/9/09.]
  • [DONE]

  • Attend at least one convention and volunteer for programming. Try to promote cyberfunded creativity or other potentially lucrative projects.
  • [MISSED]

  • Obtain at least one new, regular writing or editing job that pays reasonably well.
  • [MISSED]

    What are some of your goals for 2009?

    Watercolor Characters

    Tonight I was wrapping presents while Doug watched the "making of" extra for The Devil and Daniel Mouse. While watching the backgrounds being painted in watercolor, I remembered some discussions with artist friends about how different media behave. If you want control, paint in oil or acrylic. If you paint in watercolor, you have to give up control and trust that the paint knows what it's doing. I'm not an artist, but I don't think I'd like watercolor because I generally want to be in control of things.

    Except that's not the way I write. Almost all of my characters -- and all the great ones -- are watercolor characters. I lay out the broad lines of the story, but they have a mind of their own. They know what they're doing. They change and flow and interact in ways I don't always anticipate, and I like that about them. It's what makes them come alive, what makes the story more than just words on paper. There is a brilliance in these characters like the layered brilliance of light in watercolors.

    There are writers who plan out everything in meticulous detail, who exert the kind of control over their characters that an oil painter does over art. They think it's silly -- or simply nonsensical -- that other writers work differently. I think their approach sounds like way too much work and not any fun. They think mine is chaos and delusion. Oil and water. Both art, yet utterly different.

    I am intrigued that my needs and tastes in different creative endeavors could be so opposite. When I work with visuals, I tend to prefer precision, every piece just so. It's like putting together a puzzle, piece by piece, to match an image in my head. I even favor representational over abstract pictures. But when I work with words, everything is malleable, fluid, flowing -- riding the story as it takes shape is like flying. It's a voyage of discovery.

    I am a bouquet of contradictions.