I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone!
Last year was a year of creative experimentation for me. A lot of drafting new stories and trying out new art techniques. This year has been about bringing creative projects into reality, or at least closer to reality than they were before.
I have struggled in the past with taking my creative projects from idea to finished work—the projects ended up too big, and they got caught in a bottleneck before I made much progress on them. Over these last few years, I have gotten much better at dumping my ideas out of my head so I can sort through them after the shine has worn off. In practice, I like to write ideas down using a notes app on my phone.
They start out in a note full of ideas, most of which aren’t very fleshed out. If I still like the idea after a few days or weeks, it may get its own dedicated note or even a Word document if it seems very promising. Getting the ideas out of my head makes it easier to decide which to develop further. When I write out plans for a potential story or project and later decide not to pursue it, that gives me a better sense of closure than when I leave things to ruminate in my mind for too long.
Back in January, I started following open calls for writing. For example, the author Erica Verrillo has a fantastic blog with paying publishing opportunities. Submitting my short fiction to literary magazines has been an interesting experience. Many magazines—especially those that pay a professional or semi-professional rate—are extremely competitive. That might mean a 1% acceptance rate or receiving 1,000 stories during an open call period and accepting 10. Still, writing something you are proud of (that fits the magazine’s scope and follows the submission guidelines) is the best way to set yourself up for success.
Writing more short fiction has helped me learn to limit the number of ideas in my stories. I have found flash fiction (typically stories under 1,000 words) to be a great exercise in restraint and telling a bigger story than what is on the page. I’ve enjoyed writing science fiction and fantasy short stories as well. Getting rejections from magazines isn’t enjoyable, but it feels like part of the process after a while. Some rejections come with feedback and kind words, and that is gratifying. My short fiction has been published in Metastellar, The Metaworker, and the Queer Sci Fi anthology.
My other major creative project this year has been We Leapt Into the Sky, my serialized science fiction novel. I finished the first draft in late November last year, and the manuscript was around 50,000 words long—novel length, but on the short side. I received helpful feedback on that draft, which showed me places with room for improvement. I decided to rework and lengthen the story. Taking a moderate-length novel and expanding it was difficult, but I love the way the story took shape. It is in the final editing stage, and I have been posting each new chapter on my website as I complete it.
With almost every other chapter accompanied by an illustration, that also means twelve pieces of concept art I’ve finished for the project so far. I’m proud of my progress and looking forward to finishing the project early next year.
We Leapt Into the Sky: https://www.cjyeates.com/we-leapt-into-the-sky