It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible

The numbers game


I was thinking yesterday about how much I hate writing first drafts. I much prefer rewriting. Once I’ve got the bones of the story down on paper, I have something to shape – and it’s that process I enjoy doing. And this got me thinking about how many stories I’ve started but never finished. So I went digging through my various spreadsheets and lists of submissions, and I managed to cobble some numbers together…

started finished submitted published
flash 5 4 3 2
novel 8 5 5 0
novella 8 1 0 1
poem 21 21 8 1
short story 40 34 23 19

This may make me look quite prolific, but I’m a complete dilettante compared to some people I know. There are those who have submitted in one year more stories than I’ve ever actually finished. These numbers incidentally are mostly for the past few years. I did write and submit some short stories during the early 1990s, but my records from then are patchy so I’ve not included them. I spent much of that decade focusing on writing novels – which landed me an agent in 2005. It was only in 2008 that I started seriously writing and submitting short fiction, and year or so after that I tried my hand at poetry.

I seem to be much better at starting novellas than I am at finishing them – the only completed one is Adrift on the Sea of Rains, which I published through Whippleshield Books. Most of my poems I’ve posted on sferse, but I’ve only tried submitting a handful (without much success, it has to be said). And, while I’ve finished five novels, I’ve only submitted two complete ones to my agent; the remaining three were proposals. The above figures do not include the short stories, novellas or novels I plan at some point to have a go at but presently have nothing more than a one-line description in my ideas book.

The past six to nine months I’ve been focusing on Rocket Science, Adrift on the Sea of Rains and The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself, so I’ve not had much chance to write any new short stories, or even finish off any of those I’d previously started. I really need to get back into that. So, of course, only a couple of days ago I had a good idea for a novel and I want to get some of that down on paper…

3 thoughts on “The numbers game

  1. Wow, I am envious of your conversion rates! Mine looks like:

    Started Finished Placed
    130+ 40 13

    As you can see, my biggest problem is that I often set out hopeful, but rarely have any idea where I’m going.

    As so few are even finished, it’s a moot point whether they would have been flash, short stories, or longer.

    • I always have a good idea where a story is going when I start it. It may end up somewhere different by the time it’s finished, of course. And it may prove to be completely uninteresting, so I bung it in a bottom-drawer until I come up with a way of “rescuing” it.

  2. Pingback: The numbers game: addenda « It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.