I began writing short stories in April of 2012. Since that time, I have composed 19 short stories. Ten of those stories are retired--either I've stopped submitting them or I never submitted them at all. Four need to be revised before I can submit them (in some cases, before I submit them again). Four are ready for submission now, three of which are currently submitted. One story is not suitable for submission because it has already been accepted.
My first submission came on May 9. Of the 30 submissions I've made for which I've received responses, 29 have been rejections. My 30th and most recent response, received on December 11, was my first acceptance.
I've accomplished a lot as a writer in the last 12 months. Beside the tangible result of an acceptance and impending publication, I've improved in measurable ways from the writer I was a year ago. I mentioned above that I've retired 10 stories. Those stories weren't retired because they accumulated some number of rejections. I retired them because they are written poorly. Honestly, I'm a little embarrassed by those stories. I wouldn't want anyone reading them. My standards have risen.
My ability to see (and judge) my own flaws as a writer is light-years ahead of where it was last year, and I might venture to say that I'm now capable of writing compelling stories in competent, readable sentences. In short, I'm a much better writer than I was last year.
Part of realizing that my writing is measurably better now than it was six months ago is realizing that my writing has a long way to go to compare with the best stuff out there. Though I can write competent sentences, I have trouble writing more-than-competent sentences, the sort that make prose sing. I often have trouble with characterization. My characters can feel flat instead of round and real. And I always have trouble with plot, though it's more a constitutional defect than an issue with writing mechanics. I have trouble converting my ideas into stories with plots and characters. I find myself thinking in terms of settings instead of stories. I'll imagine a place, or a set of rules, without any idea of who is in that place or what that person might do there.
Despite the fact that I have a long way to go, I feel great about my writing prospects for the future. I think I'm on the right track. 2013, here I come!