Assessments 2022 / Goals 2023
By N. M. Cedeño
We’ll start with assessments:
I started 2022 with the goal of getting short stories published. In aid of that goal, I set another goal: to submit an average of three stories per month to magazines, anthologies, or contests. That’s thirty-six submissions. Why choose an average instead of a fixed monthly goal? Because I knew with travel, family responsibilities, and holidays, some months would be more difficult than others. As expected, June and July had only two submissions each. December might be the same. Giving myself the flexibility to submit four stories one month to make up for months with only two stories submitted was a practical decision. I know how these things go, so I wasn’t going to shoot myself in the foot by making the goal too rigid to meet.
I met my goal. By December, I submitted thirty-six stories to various markets to be considered for publication. I also submitted five stories for consideration for awards or recognition that includes publication. If I count those five as additional “submissions,” then I blew my goal out of the water.
During 2022, seven of my short stories were published or reprinted in various magazines, e-zines, and anthologies. This is nothing compared to the John Floyds of the world, but pleasing for someone who only decided to focus on short fiction publication in 2020.
Six of seven covers for 2022. Seven is an awkward number!
January: e-zine, Black Cat Weekly #19– “A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy” (reprint)
February: anthology, After Dinner Conversation: Season Five – “The Wrong Side of History” (reprint)
March: anthology, Crimeucopia: Say What Now?– “Reaching for the Moon”
April: anthology, Groovy Gumshoes: Private Eyes in the Psychedelic Sixties– “Nice Girls Don’t”
June: e-zine, Black Cat Weekly #37– “Serenity, Courage, Wisdom”
August: magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine #12– “It Came Upon a Midnight Ice Storm”
December: e-zine, Black Cat Weekly #68– “Merry Library Murder”
Firsts for 2022:
For the first time, an editor approached me because someone else had failed to supply a story. This led to another first: I produced a story— from researching the historical background to submitting the finished product— in about three weeks. Was the final product as polished as I would have liked? No. But, in the end, the only issues left were minor.
For the first time, I had a story “featured” on the cover of a magazine. “Merry Library Murder” is the featured story in Black Cat Weekly #68, which was published the week before Christmas. Seeing that cover was a lovely surprise and a fabulous Christmas present.
For the first time, I submitted some of my stories for consideration in “Best of” mystery anthologies, which is a box checked on a list of professional goals. I wondered: Should I let the editors submit for me? Or should I submit my own stories? Many authors wait on this sort of thing and let others, like editors, decide. But, where is the wisdom in not putting your work forward, not ensuring it will be seen and considered? Just as work left in the drawer won’t be published, work never sent for consideration for awards won’t be recognized with awards.
Goals for 2023:
Increase my writing productivity.
During the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, I was surprisingly (given the stress of those years) prolific. My writing output was steady. But 2022 did not go as well. My productivity in 2022 was much less than I had hoped. In speaking to other writers, I’ve heard many say that they felt like they hit a wall at some point in the last two years. They felt their energy levels plummet, and they felt like they didn’t have the emotional energy to invest in their writing. I too felt an energy drop this year. Instead of writing new material, I frequently focused on editing and submitting what I had already written. I kept working, but not always on new words. While I did produce new short stories, I didn’t write as many as in previous years. My creative batteries must have needed a recharge.
Keep submitting short stories.
I intend to keep my focus on short fiction for now. People keep asking when I will write another novel. I don’t know. Short fiction comes far more naturally than novels for me. I have always found novel writing to be a slog. Short stories are fun. So maybe I’ll focus on writing more stories than last year and submit three per month again? Or I could try for four submissions a month. Hmm. Things to think about. Decisions to be made.
Attempt to build relationships with more editors
As a wise editor told me: editors die or retire. Writers must build relationships with many editors to ensure a steady stream of story acceptances and publications.
Delegate when possible.
I’ve been elected president of my local SinC chapter again, starting in January. I’ve served on the chapter board in various capacities over the years: as vice-president, as president, as immediate past president. The position of president can be the equivalent of taking on a part-time job, or even a full time job, if I don’t delegate. People are very reluctant to volunteer right now. I may have to beg, plead, and twist some arms, which I hate to do. But I also hate to see something good fall apart for lack of volunteers. Wish me luck.