Uncanny Vale

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of Erin Wilcox

999 Days of Writing on the Wall, 999 Days of Writing...

More than three years ago, I set out to obtain writing mastery. To me, this meant applying a yogic metric of doing a daily practice for 1,000 days straight. Miss one? Your ass is back to day 1 tomorrow.

On the traditional yogic side of things, I’ve successfully achieved 1,000 days of practice with one 15-minute meditation. To no one’s surprise, it proved challenging—I did this meditation in the car on a road trip, in a closet of an Air BnB, on the john, and once or twice visualizing it when I was too exhausted to take the full posture. It took several tries and misses to get the traction I needed and feel like, Hey, it would be a tragedy not to do my meditation today because I’d have to start back at day 1 and I’ve come so far. But eventually, it worked. I mastered kirtan kriya.

My writing mastery sadhana has taken a similar path. I chose a 15-minute minimum rather than a word count because I wanted things like writing research, which I spend too little time on, to count toward my goal. It took at least five tries to get off this sadhana off the ground, but eventually I did.

When I started, I lived in the desert with my cat and was in the process of getting divorced. I had a Pushcart Prize nomination and some published literary stories but no pro sales in my genre of science fiction and fantasy. I wanted to be a member of SFWA so much I could hardly stand it. Fast forward three years. I live in the lush Emerald City, have the same psycho cat (plus one more), I’m married to the man I love, and tomorrow—goddess willing—I reach 1,000 days of writing in a row!

A woman jumps up in the air above an expanse of snow, arms raised.

Here are some writing milestones I’ve reached over the last 999 days:

  • Earned $7,193 in short story story sales.
  • Sold a poem I wrote in the third grade, “Monster Town,” for $160. (Boy, do I wish I could go back in a time machine and tell little me about that chunk of change!)
  • Wrote a Star Wars picture book that has not sold but has attracted three separate agents—not bad for 116 words!
  • Got into and completed the 6-week Odyssey Writing Workshop (which almost killed me: thanks, Jeanne!).
  • Joined SFWA as an affiliate member and upgraded to associate membership earlier this year; currently fewer than 2,000 words away from pro membership. (Honestly, I feel a little less excited about this threshold having hit membership loopholes that kept me an affiliate while others making far less money on qualifying short sales were deemed pros, but I suppose that shift from a more starry-eyed sentiment is a significant part of this journey, too.)
  • Self-published a reprint of a short story, “The Barn,” which was reviewed in The Rumpus.
  • Successfully completed NaNoWriMo, writing 50,000 words in one month.
  • Created a horror pen name, Celeste Wakefield, and self-published a short story reprint with her byline (although, it also has my byline in the metadata—still sorting this one out).
  • Created and am still writing the blog series Modern Myth and Meaning, which is doing great over at Amazing Stories.
  • Have started translating my Amazing Stories posts into Spanish!

Relatedly, I make a decent living these days writing and curating content for Microsoft Design’s Medium channel. That’s excluded above since it’s not the kind of creative writing I’ve been counting toward my 1,000 days. But the stability and confidence of getting this gig have been really significant.

The one big hole in this list, which I’d hoped I would have achieved when I set out three years ago, is a novel. And it strikes me that if I want to complete and sell a novel, then I’d better make my next process goal about novel writing specifically. But more on that tomorrow. For one day here, I’m going to bask in the glow of the things I have accomplished. Because that’s a very important thing to do, once every thousand days or so.
  A kitten gives her mom a high five.