Christina Marie's Blog

December 30, 2018

2018 Recap – The Highs and Lows

Filed under: Writing Life — Christina @ 4:53 pm
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Hi Everyone. 2018 is almost done and I thought I would share the good and the bad that happened this year. Usually at the beginning of the year, I have such lofty goals. I tend to aim high with my writing ambition, but reality always has a way of bringing me down to earth. In a way, this is good. “Swing for the fences,” I say.

But it can be a bit of a let down when you get to the end of the year and you’re nowhere close to where you thought you would be. Still I did accomplish a few things.

First, let’s recap the tough stuff:

  • I didn’t publish a blog post once a month like I said I would last January. Honestly I got too busy with the day job, house hunting, and health stuff (more on this later). Now that I finally have a few days off, I can post something.
  • No story acceptance this year. If you don’t submit, you don’t get accepted. In the first half of the year, I didn’t submit anything. I got better in the second half and got a couple of personalized rejections (always nice), but I was so used to getting something accepted that I am kinda bummed I won’t have a new publication to share. Still maybe this means I will have more than one in 2019.
  • I didn’t write enough this year. What is enough? Yes it’s arbitrary, but I wanted to finish far more than I did this year.
  • I wasn’t a good literary citizen. I didn’t go to any book festivals or conferences. I didn’t go see any writers speak, nor did I buy many books this year (I got a gift card for Christmas, so this will soon change.)
  • Finally, my health declined somewhat. Starting around February, I noticed that I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t feel bad, just different. My energy level was low and I felt a familiar ache in my lower abdomen. Needless to say, my fibroids, that I had surgery for 8 years ago, had grown back. I couldn’t have the surgery right away because I didn’t have enough vacation days. Pair that with an outpatient surgery on my right breast (not cancer) to remove some abnormal cells and the anemia that came with the fibroids, and you see why my fall and early winter felt like an endless stream of doctor visits.

Now let’s look at the good:

  • I had a story published this year at 4StarStories. I’m so happy this story found a home! After years of rejections, this really gave me a boost.
  • Without any marketing, I managed to sell a few copies of my chapbook that I self-published a few years ago. Considering that most self-published books never sell one copy, I’m proud that a few copies made it out into the world.
  • I finished 2 stories this year. Despite my lack of writing, I did finish a couple of stories. And a finished story is always a good thing.
  • Despite having no acceptances this year, I did submit to new places. This year, I submitted to a few markets that I read, but never really considered submitting too. They were either doing a theme that I had nothing for, or I didn’t have any story at the time to submit. This year I tried my best to send something to new markets, even if I didn’t think it would be a great fit. In other words, I didn’t self reject. I submitted work that I liked and let the editor reject me. You never know until you try. (Side note: I submitted things that were still in the market’s parameters. I just didn’t let the voice in my head that keeps telling me to pass on the market because the story isn’t good enough win.)
  • I did a writing retreat this year. I’ve already written about it, but I loved it and can’t wait to do another.
  • I bought a condo. Even after months, I still have to get used to the idea. But so far, I’m liking it.
  • Even with all my health problems, I’m getting better. My first surgery went really well. I had very little pain and recovered quickly. My second surgery is this week, and I’m glad it is so early in the year. I want to start off 2019 with a healthy beginning. Plus, thanks to the iron pills for the anemia, I have some energy back. I think in about 2 months, I’m going to feel so much better!

So that was my 2018. After my surgery, I’ll post my “Goals for 2019”.

Happy New Year! See you in 2019!

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September 16, 2018

Fall 2018 — Back to Business

Filed under: Writing Life — Christina @ 4:44 pm
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The spring/summer flew by. I barely remember much about anything other than going to open houses, signing lots of paperwork, and moving lots of boxes. (Lots and lots of boxes.) After a year and a half of living with my parents out of a few suitcases, I bought a place (finally) and I am settled in nicely. I really do hate to move, but I think that is motivated by my scorn for disorganization. Discovering new places and new people is fun. Unpacking all my books and dishes is not.

Not gonna lie, the disjointedness of the last few years did a number on my writing output. So far this year I have only finished two stories. I wanted to finish my novel, but so far I’ve made little progress. That doesn’t mean I won’t get it done. The year is not over yet. I made a list of all the “in progress” projects I have and it’s a little daunting. But in a way, I like all the work I need to do. Won’t be bored at all.

Also earlier this year, I took my first ever writing retreat. I set out to Southern VA and in the quiet of the country, had a few good days of concentrated writing. I never travel to write, but I can see the appeal. The internet was scarce, no phone calls, no errands to run, or laundry to do. It was just me and the story. I need to do that more. I’m lucky that I live in an area that is very literary with lots of events, conferences, and other programs. So often, I don’t need to go anywhere, they come to me.

But going to a place to write felt meaning full and maybe because I knew the time was short, I wanted to make the most out of it. Maybe like an actor that goes to improve workshops to keep sharp, or musicians who collaborate just to see what would happen. It’s not really about producing great work, but more about just producing, just creating.

So I came back home with new stories and started submitting more stuff. I can’t remember how many rejections I have now, but I don’t think it matters. I’m still working, putting my work out there, and keeping busy.

February 22, 2018

New Story Published at Four Star Stories

Filed under: Writing Life — Christina @ 5:16 pm
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Look A New Story!      photo: Department of the Interior

 

My new story “Future Virtual Love” is now live at the Four Star Stories website. Click here to read it in full!

For all of my fellow writers, I wanted to give some background info on the evolution of the story.

The first version was written sometime in late 2012. I later revised it and added more (about 1500 or so more words). I then workshopped it twice. The first time in summer 2013 and then later in fall 2013. During summer 2013, my professor encouraged me to submit. I had held off submitting, because I wanted to focus just on craft while in grad school, but she said that the story was strong, and I should try. So off it went into the cycle of submissions and rejections.

During my thesis in Spring 2015, my advisor said that I should try submitting it with a significant portion cut. It wasn’t that the story was bad, in fact the whole story was part of my thesis and accepted. Honestly, her advice came from the feedback the story was getting from editors. “The story is good,” they would say, “but not quite for us.” It got quite a few personal rejections and, yes, that spurred me on, but also made me take second, or even third looks at my work. Then, my advisor suggested that I submit the shorter version instead.

3.5 years after that first workshop… 1 year after thesis… 18 rejections later… I submitted to Four Star Stories in July 2016. In September 2017, I got the acceptance e-mail.

Now in February 2018, the story is published.

Yay!

This experience taught me a lot, but there are TWO big lessons:

  1. Believe in your work. If you think your work is worth publishing, eventually others will as well. It may take time, but it will happen.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take a hard look at your writing and change it if YOU want to. (Don’t let anyone talk you into changing something you think is right and true.) No story is perfect, and don’t revise until the story is a mere shell, but do take a look at it and see if there is anything that can get better. As an artist, we should strive to be better at our craft then we were the day before.

Don’t stop learning.

Don’t stop growing.

January 28, 2018

2017 was slow. How about 2018???

Filed under: Writing Life — Christina @ 5:44 pm
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The new year has started and I’m feeling like I need to get down to work. Although a lot of progress was made in 2017, my writing was not one of those things. If anything, I feel like a took a step back. I don’t think I finished one piece last year. I did write some, but I didn’t hit any of my goals. So this year, I have to pick up the pace. I’m aiming to finish my first draft of my book by the end of April.

Yup. You read that right.

That is an aggressive goal, but I need it. I’m tired of have half-finished stories floating all around me (and in my head). I want some finished material! I may lose some sleep and be grouchy, but, dang it, stuff is gonna get done!

On a positive note, looks like this spring I will be house hunting. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. I might drive everyone crazy with my need to go and see open houses, relentlessly watch HGTV, and pay more attention to Zillow than conversations. Hopefully, they will forgive me. I worked hard last year and gave up a lot to get out of debt and save up money. I’m in a really good place financially now. Time to put that savings to work.

Also, I’m happy I was able to get another story accepted. I don’t know when it will be published, but for me, the important thing is that another one of my stories found a home. As writers, we write into the void, not knowing if anyone will see or care about our stories as much as we do. This particular story was written in 2013. That’s a long time to see a story find a home. I believed in it and am thrilled that I stuck it out.

If anything, 2017 taught me the value of investing in long-term goals. Not only can I achieve them, but they are worth it too. I first got the idea for my novel in 2014, so it’s time to wrap it up. No more stalling.

My other writing goals for 2018:

Write at least one blog post per month. (I slacked hard last year. I need to do better.)

Earn more money from my writing.

Submit more. (I’ve fallen off my 100 rejection goal. Maybe start over? Not sure yet, but definitely submit more this year.)

Happy 2018! I hope you are working on some awesome goals too! Let’s get things done this year.

October 5, 2017

Back from Break – October 5, 2017

Filed under: Everyday Life,Writing Life — Christina @ 4:31 pm
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Phew! It’s been a while since I have updated this blog.

Honestly, I needed a break from all things social media related. After pushing through to get out of debt and figure out my game plan for the next phase of my life, I realized I needed to unplug from my life. Like a lot of people, I work in front of a computer all day long. The idea of spending more time in front of it just killed me. It’s one of the reasons I write long hand a lot. I would much rather spend time writing on a note pad than composing on the computer.

So I spend most of the spring and summer away from the screen, trying to come up with a writing plan for myself. I didn’t find a good one. All I can say is that I’m still working on my book. Slowly but surely, it will get done. I have this fantasy of it being completed by the end of the year, but we’ll see. I also have a few other stories that need to be finished or tweaked.

Good news! Even in my disorganized state, I am still submitting. I even managed to get another story accepted. It should go live by the end of the year. That news really energized me (which is why I want to have a completed draft done by the end of the year). I wrote the story four years ago and it has gone through a lot of rejections. I’m so happy it found a home.

Reminds me of the old advice that the one trait a writer needs is — Persistence.

I’m getting back into the swing of things, so expect more updates (or at least more that one every 6 months). Thanks to all of you who have stuck with the blog this long. Things are getting interesting!

April 2, 2017

50K by June 1st

Filed under: Writing Life — Christina @ 5:01 pm
Tags: , ,

I am now officially debt free. It feels good, but the work isn’t done yet. I still have to tackle some of my other financial goals. Time to rebuild my savings, turn my focus on retirement (it’s never to early to start), and get that down payment for a house. All of these goals are long term, so in the immediate future, I shifting more attention to writing.

I’ve been slow these first few months of the year. I always am, so now is about the time I will shift into a more productive mode. So, I’m setting new goal for the next two months.

I want 50,000 words of my novel done.

I have no idea how much I currently have. It’s half written/half typed. I’m not sure where I left off and the book needs to be organized. It’s screaming for attention and I’m going to give it. So from now to June 1, I am going to try my hardest to get to 50K.

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