Finnian Burnett

Storyteller

I’ve long said that comparison is a form of self-harm. We are all on our own journeys and comparing ourselves to others can lead to heartache, especially when we don’t take into account that we have no idea of all the back story that led to where they are now.

When I win a contest and someone says, “You’re so lucky” or “I wish I could win a contest,” I want to remind them that they have no idea the path I took to get to that win or how many rejections it took to get there.

And I’m usually pretty good at avoiding comparison myself. Not always. Sometimes, I read a brilliant piece of fiction like Space Dew or Elevator Pitch for a Dystopian Young Adult Book and I have those brief flashes of “Ugh! I’m never going to tell stories as impactful as that.” But I remind myself that I *have* written impactful stories and that my work is my own, not someone else’s and I usually am okay after a few moments.

But lately, I’ve noticed a trend in myself to compare myself to past Finn. Facebook memories is awful for this, but also my own submissions spreadsheet, or notifications from Submittable. Last year’s Finn submitted 27 stories in January and had already received several acceptances. Last year’s Finn was on a shortlist already by January 10th. Last year’s Finn was chosen as a finalist in the monthly microfiction contest by Globe Soup and went on to win first prize with their story, “Things I Couldn’t Say.”

Last year’s Finn was a powerhouse.

This year’s Finn hasn’t written one coherent story in a month, has barely managed to eke out a couple submissions and is watching the deadlines on their spreadsheet whiz by with a resigned maybe next year.

Last year’s Finn was a week ahead of almost every deadline, and had a cache of awesome stories to bank in case of unexpected contests.

This year’s Finn has a deadline today that is probably not going to happen.

It can be disheartening.

But.

Just as I always remind people not to compare themselves to others, I also have to remember not to compare myself to past me. Things in my life were different last year. This year, I’m in my final year of my capstone. I’ve had some chronic health issues. I’m in a manageable, but impactful phase of my depression.

Life is not the same from day to day, let alone from year to year. And just as sometimes the creative writing has to go underground to sprout, so does everything that comes along with it.

The writing community will still be there when I finally emerge. The friends I’ve made, the publications I like to appear in. They’ll be there. Or, if not, new ones will.

I wonder if the biggest gift we can give ourselves is compassion. Maybe my goal for this year is to be a little more compassionate to Present Finn. After all, we can’t help what Past Finn did. We’re not them anymore.

I’m so excited I have two awesome queer writing classes coming up. (Not just for queers, but for anyone who wants to add queerness to their writing.)

The first is a class on “Queering the Flash.” This class through The Crow Collective will focus on flash fiction. We’ll do some generative writing, read a few queer stories, talking about the nuances of them, and apply some concepts to our own writing. As with any workshop at the Crow Collective, this will be a super supportive environment. Sharing will be completely voluntary and we won’t be critiquing anyone’s work – after all, any generative writing is meant to be an exercise in honing our skills. Like musicians doing scales. You can sign up for that class here. (Note, the afternoon class still has several spaces.) The Crow Collective tries to make their workshops affordable to everyone. If you want to attend this and you really can’t afford it, please contact the owner, Sage, here.

The next workshop is through the Herstry Blog – this will also be generative and meant to guide people into creating queer characters with sensitivity and authenticity.

Queer is a huge spectrum and with changing language around gender identity and orientation, there are so many avenues to explore when it comes to writing queer characters. In this workshop, queer trans author Finnian Burnett will explore the divide between own voices and inclusive writing. Part generative writing and part instruction, this workshop will give writers the tools and techniques they need to write characters outside of their own lived experiences. This workshop is appropriate for any writer of any experience level. Sharing will be encouraged, but not required. You can read more about it and sign up here.

I hope to see some of your faces there!

I know people like to start making New Year’s resolutions this time of year. I’ve not been immune to that myself – but over the past few years, I’ve used December as kind of a hibernation month. It’s dark, it’s cold, and I’m on break from both teaching and studenting. (Though, of course, with this being my capstone year, I’m not really on break.) It’s certainly my lightest time of year, workwise, and it’s a great time to reflect on the past year and think about the year ahead.

My wife and I also buy new notebooks in December as a shared Christmas present and a way to start the new year.

Obviously, new pens have to go with that.

Then we pick a day and time, make fresh cups of tea, and sit together to plan for the new year. Since we’re both writers, we make writing goals. But we also make shared house goals, talking about what projects are a priority for each of us. Health/fitness goals, mental health goals.

It all goes into our individual books of plans.

I try not to get over-exuberant with my plans. I want goals that I am likely to accomplish. Sometimes it’s hard to determine what will be the most important. Do I try to write that novel this year? Should I go for another year of 100 rejections? I ended up splitting my writing goals into four categories:

Long-form works

Short-form works

Teaching/presentations

Learning/growing

So, for long-form works, I might have, for example, finishing a zero draft of my next novel, while under learning/growing, I might have “read six craft books” or “take a creativity workshop.”

I also have shared goals with my writing partner, Kimberly Cooper Griffin, both for classes we give together, books we write together, and a self-guided plotting course we’re working on.

It seems like a lot but it feels good to have a plan.

What about you? Any goals/resolutions for 2023? I’d love to hear about them.

Hi All!

I’m excited to say the morning slot of my upcoming class with the Crow Collective is almost full. However, there are still spaces available in both time options.

Queer stories, that is, stories with queer characters, add richness to flash narratives, and diving into the many levels of queerness can add edge and tension to your stories. Queer is such a huge spectrum and with changing language around identity, gender, and orientation, there are so many avenues to explore when it comes to queer flash. Join author Finnian Burnett to explore these depths of queerness, specifically as it applies to flash fiction.

Participants will do some guided generative writing and we will analyze some excellent queer flash stories and discuss exactly what makes a story queer. We will also dive into your personal stories. Sharing will be encouraged, but not required. Please note this workshop is for everyone and though it is a safe space for LGBTQA+ folks, I welcome and celebrate allies and anyone who wants to learn how to add queer characters to their flash. Come prepared to write, learn, and leave with your own flash stories.