Tag Archives: terror

A Stiff Shot in the Arm

Jay Lake made me late for work this morning.

This might not be entirely fair. It’s not like he was in my apartment keeping me from showering or eating breakfast. He didn’t call me at a bad time, or send me a Twitter DM, or anything like that. On the other hand, it was entirely his fault that he wrote a fascinating piece of advice for new writers that hit me right where I live. I couldn’t not finish reading. Check it out here, at Shimmer magazine.

Seriously, if you’re into creative activities at all, I’d highly recommend you read it before continuing.

Done? Okay. I’ve been thinking lately about goals. I pretty much have just one right now, which is to finish Fugitives from Earth before OryCon, and then to start on the next novel. That’s all very sustainable, but it’s slow. Very, very slow. And right now, I need to do something, even something emotionally risky, to show myself that I’m making progress on my career.

So I’m going to throw caution to the wind and submit a damned story. I’ve written a full dozen shorts in the last year of varying quality, and a few of them are even what I might call “finished.” But I’ve got too much emotional attachment to those; we’ll just call those practice. What I’m going to do instead is take this weekend as a break from FfE, finish a half-written story that I feel is really workable, and submit it somewhere, anywhere that’ll pay.

It’ll probably get rejected, but that’s the point as much as anything. I feel like there’s a glass ceiling of possible rejection that forcing me to stay close to the ground. Rather than being afraid of the possibility of rejection, I want to feel its certainty and know that it can’t kill me. And like Mr. Lake says, with every rejection, the next one gets easier to take. I want to have that trunkful of rejection slips he mentions, because that means that I’m making progress. I’m still writing, and if I’m challenging myself, I’m probably getting better. And hopefully before that trunk fills up, somebody will decide that one of my pieces is worth buying.

I know that writing probably won’t ever make me much money, but sitting around waiting for the “perfect moment” doesn’t pay much at all. So, time to throw caution to the wind, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Whew!

On a slightly more prosaic note, one reason I feel comfortable doing this is that I’ve been making excellent progress with Fugitives from Earth. I’m probably 15% done at this point, I’d say. I have about 5,000 words to write before Part I is complete, and I expect that Part II will go somewhat more quickly. The last half of the book will be the real sticking point, so I want to build up as much momentum as possible before charging into it. Still, things are going well.

So, 5,000 words to finish my story by this weekend, with the final email going out to some market by Monday night. Wish me luck.

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Literary Fiber

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I don’t believe that there’s this mystical force that keeps one from writing something that they desperately want to write. I definitely do not believe that one’s abilities are at the whims of a capricious muse, who gives with one hand and takes away with the other. Certainly, there are times where the creative well has run dry, and days where real life intrudes mentally even when one is at peace physically, but these are concrete, specific problems.

That said, there are times where I experience definite writer’s block-ish symptoms, and one of those times is right now. I’m close – so close – to being done with my revision of Part III, which would place me well over halfway done with this revision phase. And yet I’m totally blocked on the last three or four scenes, and in this case I know that the blockage is my inner editor telling me, “This really isn’t very believable.”

Unfortunately, this is the second half of a major plot arc, and the first half is already written. That means I’m at a dilemma: do I discard what I already have down on paper and re-write the scene from beginning to end, or do I force myself through and then revise it to be more interesting and believable in a later phase? Of course, I don’t even know if it can be made interesting and believable later, which certainly doesn’t help my decision-making process much.

What makes this situation worse is that, despite my efforts to just chill out and write for myself first, I’m a feeling a little self-imposed pressure. I know that I’m writing for publication here, and I’m trying to be as professional as possible, which adds an entirely new layer of difficulty to an already difficult task. My guess is that everyone feels this way when they’re starting out, and that the occasional twinges of utter despair in my abilities is something that pretty much everyone goes through. It usually doesn’t affect me too much, but it tends to crowd its way to the forefront when I have other problems writing.

Well, I’m not about to let that get the best of me. Here’s what I”m going to do: I’m just going to skip ahead to Part IV. I know where I want that part to begin, and I’ve got some exciting stuff planned. Part III is much better now than it was in the first draft, but it’s still lacking a little something; a little extra time to ferment might be good for it. It’ll also mean I won’t be quite as close to those scenes that I have a niggling feeling I’ll need to cut, and it’ll mean I’m still making forward process, which is what writing is entirely about.

And So it Begins

NaNoWriMo 2010 is officially underway. In the last 30 minutes, I’ve written about 1,110 words, almost 1% of my novel’s total estimated length. I just have to do that 100 more times over the next month, plus a little extra on the weekends, and I’ll be sitting pretty darned pretty.

Oh, and all of my planning didn’t cause me to immediately choke. I had this fear all day that I would sit down at my keyboard, write a few paragraphs, and then suddenly think, “Oh crap. I don’t want to write this story!” Then I’d have to start all over with the plot and characters and so forth. But it didn’t, and now I can go to bed happy.

I don’t know if any of the Portland Wrimos are reading this, but since the downtown Portland write-in takes place on a Thursday, I’m not going to be able to attend, which sucks because the downtown people were pretty awesome at the kickoff party. Instead, I’m tentatively going to be hitting the SE write-in on Tuesday in Woodstock. Details are in the forums, as always.

Trying Some New Things

I hit a big planning milestone today: I started work on a detailed outline. I have never done this before writing a story of any length, and I have to say that doing it before writing a novel is a little intimidating. For one thing, it was hard getting started, and for another, I’m really worried that it’s setting me up for failure.

Let me explain a little bit. Just like everyone who writes without outlining first, I always start stories off really strong, then get somewhere between a few thousand and a few tens of thousands of words into them before suddenly realizing that I’m out of inspiration. Up until this point, I’ve kept kind of a mental outline of what I wanted to have happen in the back of my mind, but suddenly, that’s run out like a bad date, leaving me along to pay up the balance of my story.

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