Stats

I like statistics – one of my favourite radio programmes is More Or Less. I used probability and statistics in the course of my PhD research in the 1980s. So it feels absolutely natural to analyse my writing and publication stats. I’ve done it from about 1990, looking at my output and my publication success rates.

Some of the things that show up are pretty obvious, for instance that my publication peaks occur about a year after the poems are written. Others are less so. Why is it that my output is lower in the year a collection is published? Why are some years more productive than others, and why are some more successful than others in terms of published poems?

The sample size is probably still too low to give statistically relevant answers to these questions, and maybe there are subjective factors operating here, but the data are quite clear. 1998 and 2000 were very good years, and 2013 was my best to date. Over 30 of my 2013 poems have been published, in 20 or so places, including online and printed magazines and other media.

In 2014 I wrote more poems than in any previous year – over 130 –  so I’d predict that the publication peak for these poems will be in 2015. My success percentage has risen over the years too, and that’s natural for any writer – if you don’t get better at writing what are you doing? Very few poets go public about their ‘hit rates’, and I’m not going to be the exception that proves the rule. Maybe some day, but not quite yet. All I’m saying is that I’m very happy with it.

But you have to work at it. You have to keep sending out, revising then re-routing. At times it can feel like a treadmill, but I write to communicate. The hope is always that I can reach readers and audiences, to share experiences and ideas, to entertain, and maybe to inspire.

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About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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2 Responses to Stats

  1. Tim Love says:

    Hoorah! So it’s not just me then. My poetry stats are at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mariella.gregori/tim/poetry/career/po.png
    My max is 32 a year, my minimum 12 – when my pamphlet was coming out. I think it’s quite common for the imagination to take a break after book publication.

  2. Jim Murdoch says:

    I thought I liked statistics until I took a module at college and realised how easily figures can be manipulated. I don’t need a calculator to tell you that last year was probably my worst ever if you discount the three years when I wrote nothing. I completed four poems. And a novella. Let’s not forget the novella. And yet, oddly enough, I do. I’m a poet first and foremost. I just happen to write other stuff when the poetry’s not happening. This year I’ve written two poems but I’m not obsessing about it. I do have a new collection coming out. The proof copy arrived a few days ago and so far I can’t find fault with it but we’ll see if Carrie picks up on anything. Not sent out anything for a while. I allowed myself to go on a bit of a downer when nothing happened with my short story collection and so basically I took a year off and did little bar read. Which wasn’t a bad decision by any means as I got through 160 books. Now I’m editing a novel—I’m a big fan of self-editing—and I’ll be at this for months. That won’t stop the poems though. The poems, as they always have, will come when they’re ready whether I’m ready or not. That said: 130 poems! Damn!

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