Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Discouraged

This is a puffin I drew a little while ago. He is blue, and I've been a bit blue lately, so I thought he was appropriate. Of course, he also looks a bit tropical, which is just wrong for a whole host of reasons, but, hey, I like him.


Here's the thing about wanting to be a published writer: Sometimes it's just depressing. And discouraging. And disheartening.

Unless you're that one in one hundred writer who actually gets their first manuscript published with very little editing, there will be days when you just don't know if you actually will ever get there. There will be days when you don't want to look at your manuscript because "What's the point?"

It will feel like no one is ever going to read the things you write and like you've just wasted years of your life. You'll wonder why you're bothering to edit this book that no one is ever going to read anyway.

But then, eventually, after wallowing in a few days of self-pity, you'll remember reading about that one author you love. The one who worked a terrible job for years on end and got hundreds of rejections letters and then, finally, went on to become a Big Author. You'll realize it actually makes sense. Learning your craft can take years. Of course it can.

And then you'll pick that manuscript back up (the one you threw on the floor in frustration) and start looking back over those first few pages and doing a little bit of cleaning up here and there. And hope will spring anew.

I haven't been published. I don't even have an agent. So, who knows where this is going. I certainly don't. All I can do is hope - hope and work. And when that hope is nowhere to be found, I'll wallow in my self-pity for a while until hope starts to peek back out of it's hiding place.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Writings Thus Far

This is me. I take weird pictures of myself (although this one isn't actually that odd) and use them to create visual interest in my blog posts. At least, that's what I'm calling these selfies.

My Manuscripts

So, I was drawing an absolute blank about what to write this week, and I'd just recently sent one of my friends/critique partners a list of my various attempts at writing a book, and I thought it might be fun to share my writing journey with you. So, here it is (or at least here is a very brief glimpse into it).
  • Manuscripts 1 & 2 - When I was writing my thesis for my M.S., all I wanted was a nice, comforting book to curl up with (when I wasn't straining my brain with diagrams and experiments and all sorts of fun things). Romances helped get me through. Now, some were wonderful and fun and well written, and some were not. After a few too many pissed me off with their really unflattering stereotypes, I decided to write a romance in which the stereotypes were reversed. And that is how I wrote my first book. And then my second. Until this point I honestly had no idea that I could do such a thing.
  • Manuscript 3 - Well, I liked romances and all but fantasy was my first literary love. I've always loved YA and kids' books and I thought "Why not try my hand at a YA paranormal?" You get to make up all these cool places and people that wouldn't exist in the real world and you still get to have your Happily Ever After (I'm such a sucker for a happy ending). I did some more serious editing, and really tried to query this one, but I ended up deciding it just wasn't unique enough. And, honestly, maybe I just wasn't good enough at writing yet.
  • Manuscript 4 - I'm really not sure what inspired me. I think it was the fact that I wanted to write something that spoke to teens and did not feature your stereotypical white girl/guy, etc. Or maybe I was just working out a bit of belated teen angst. The teenage years are about self-discovery, and so was this YA contemporary. Honestly, it was therapeutic to write, but this wasn't the type of thing I wanted to be known for, and I wasn't even sure it was that good, and I really wasn't sure I was qualified to write a book about a girl who was half-black and grew up in a very white neighborhood. So I just shelved this one and kept going. But I have a real fondness for it. It's sort of like your high school diary. You aren't quite sure you want to go back and look because you might cringe, but you know you also might find something wonderful. I haven't been brave enough to look yet.
  • Manuscript 5 - Well, I didn't think Manuscript 3 was original enough to grab attention, but I'd had fun creating that world, so I played with the world, built it up, and wrote a MG Fantasy from the viewpoint of the little brother of the MC of Manuscript 3. This book was where I did my serious editing. Found a few CPs. Edited some more. And sent out several batches of query letters. Very recently, I decided that this manuscript isn't quite coherent enough. I think I had a little too much fun playing with my world. There's a bit too much going on, and I'm not quite sure how I'd want to distill it down. So I'm setting it aside.
  • Manuscript 6 - A YA Sci-Fi. Just call me a jack-of-all-trades (or jill?). Or fickle. So apparently I just cannot pick a genre. I love too many of them. I'm sorry, I know it's not exactly a popular opinion, but I think science is cool. I especially think that the things you can do with science are cool, and imagining an unusual world of the future leaves a lot of room for fun and awesome things to happen. In my world, men and women have been segregated into their own countries because, centuries ago, overpopulation caused a huge war to tear the world apart. It's not dystopian. The world's fully recovered, and full of cool sciencey gadgets. I'm working on my second draft now. And then the CPs, and then the queries. And it all starts over again.
  • Manuscript 7 - You'd think, wouldn't you, that since I'm working on Manuscript 6 right now that I wouldn't have a partially completed manuscript hanging about? You'd be wrong. I started it between the first draft of MS 6 and edits of MS 5. And I'm pretty excited about it (but trying to finish my MS's in a semi-logical and thorough manner). It's a YA fantasy set in the 1950s. Cool, right? I'm pretty excited about it.
  • Manuscript 8 - "What?" you ask. "Why on earth is there a MS 8?" Well, did I mention I'm fickle? Because I am. I am also in love with kids' books. The kind with the pictures and very few words and very awesome stories. And I have a friend who's a great artist who also has cool ideas. Together we plotted out a picture book. And then I wrote it up. And edited it. Not sure it's going anywhere, but there it is. Manuscript 8. It was so much fun -  a sort of fractured fairytale picture book. I love it.

And there you have it, folks. My very indecisive climb from reader to writer. I seriously hope to one day have a book published. A very successful, very awesome book - wait, I mean books. Many, many awesome and successful books. But even if I don't make it, it has actually been a pretty cool journey.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Paranoia = Imagination




Because my husband works nights about two or three weeks of the month, I end up spending a decent chunk of my nights all alone in our house, and I do not know what it is about nightime, but I've never gotten completely over that "childish" fear of the dark.

Whenever I go by dark windows, I imagine scary people staring in at me, and whenever I am sitting alone in my bed in the dark, every weird noise that I hear sounds like someone trying to break in. Or like the psycho squirrels are plotting against me. (We've got a lot of squirrels in our backyard. I think our squirrels are crazier than your average squirrels. They may or may not be out to get me. I think time will probably prove they're plotting something.)

And so I have learned to deal with my paranoia by using a nightlight and watching nice, fun TV right before bedtime (watching mysteries or crime dramas makes things worse, and I gave up on horror years ago).

So, in order to make myself feel better about all the ridiculousness, I have decided that my freakouts are an aspect of my overactive imagination, which helps me imagine new worlds in my books. And so I like to believe that I've turned something negative (being a wee bit afraid of the dark as an adult) into a positive (being creative).

See? It's all in the spin you put on things.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writers, Don’t Beat Yourself Up

This is another one of those posts I wrote for Kristie. She asked for a post on Distractions, so here it is.


Let Those Distractions Be Distracting.


Writing’s a funny thing. It’s not a normal career where you go to school, get a job, and then work until you can retire.  Not for your average wannabe author, anyway. It’s a path where you work and work and then hope and then work some more, you learn as you go, and sometimes you never actually manage to turn it into a career no matter how much you hope and wish that you could. Depressing at times, but it can be so much fun. You’ve got to be awfully persistent to make a go of writing. Optimism helps a lot too. So does another career or someone who is willing to support you while you put in your time – food is an awfully nice thing to be able to eat.

But all of that is just the backdrop for the day-to-day struggle to sit your butt in that chair and write. I’ve read a lot of recommendations on writing. One of the things I see over and over is the “Write every day” mantra. Or the “Weekly word count goal.” I’ve seen people’s exceptionally detailed writing schedules. I’m sure all of these different methods work extremely well for some. And if you need them, and they’re what gets it done for you, I say more power to you. You do what works for you.

I personally have written about six manuscripts and queried two of them (spreadsheets full of agents and everything). I’m working on revising the next one I want to query. So somehow I’ve managed to keep going, despite the fact that I personally don’t believe in write-everyday or weekly-word-count. I’ve learned so much through this process, and I’ve learned what works for me.

And what works for me is to let myself get distracted sometimes. Sometimes I just need a break. Publishing is an uncertain world, and that can get you down. Other days you’ve written something brilliant and you know it. Even if no one else is ever going to see it, you know that this little paragraph was just absolute perfection. That your new plot twist is fricking genius. And that will keep you going if you have any real ambitions to write.

But sometimes the holidays hit, and you’ve got fifty million things going on. Or maybe you just finished up a draft of your manuscript, and you are beat. Or maybe you just got back three negative query letters in the same day, and you are lower than low. You know what I say? Take a break. You deserve it. You’re doing this for yourself anyway. Treat yourself kindly. You never know what will or won’t happen for you, and if you go insane along the way, you’ll never get to enjoy the end result.

Certainly it takes persistence, and sometimes I do sit my butt in front of my computer and make myself write even though I don’t really want to. This is what I want to do with my life, even if it isn’t what I want to do right at that moment. I know that, so I’ll keep going.

But every now and then, don’t beat yourself up, just take a freaking break.