I’m going to need a bigger board

The other day at work something odd popped into my mind, which happens from time to time. It was a scene from Futurama where Fry goes to register at Mars University. There are three lines for the students. The first is for names A-M, then N-Y, and the last is just for Z. The Z line is longer than the other two, filled with all sorts of aliens. I realized that for Americans, names that begin with Q, X, or Z just sound … alien. When you think of aliens, you usually don’t think of them named Bob. (Well, maybe Paul.) Wait a minute, I thought. “The Best Job Ever!” That’s a story I wrote with an alien named Bob. Well, the people he worked with just called him Bob because his real name was unpronounceable by humans. Anyway, I wrote the story a few months ago, submitted it to a magazine but it wasn’t accepted. I set it aside to work on other projects, and kinda forgot about it. Which, happens.

Years ago, I started a system to keep track of my stories. I wrote the title on a strip of paper then taped it to a blank space on my wall. When I submitted a story, I wrote who I submitted it to on the slip, then moved to a section of the wall reserved for my submitted stories. I’ve maintained the submitted story section, but I’d pretty much stopped using the slips-of-paper-taped-to-my-wall method. So I was thinking I needed a new system for keeping track of my stories. I think before I started the slips method I considered using a dry erase board, but didn’t because I figured it would be too cluttered. But what if I just used it for my big stories? I wondered. I define big stories as those I plan on submitting to magazines. They’re not the stories I self-publish. So today I went and bought a dry erase board, took it home, and this is the result:

These are my big stories, with the exception of “Day 366.” That is a story I’m writing for my March Newsletter, and I stuck it on to make sure I finish it. “Title” is self-explanatory, “Date Revised” is the last time I revised it (if I could look it up off-hand) and the “Status” is whether it’s being Critiqued, I’m Writing it, Revising it, if it Needs Revision, or if it’s submitted and where. These are just stories. None of the numerous novels I want to write are on there and non of my previously published stories that I need to revise for any of the collections I’m working on is on there. So you can see what I said I’d need a bigger board.

As I mentioned, “Day 366” is for my Newsletter, where I let people know what I’ve done writing-wise in the past month. For awhile, there hasn’t been much spark to my newsletters. But what if I take a picture of my board each month to add, so people can see what progress I’m making? So this is the initial condition. Where can I go from here?

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