IWSG: Comparing Myself to Others

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
The awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG are Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!
Back at the insecurities question… Well, I just got back from my first writers’ conference, so I’m still processing a lot of information. So, I think–right this second–the thought that’s fluttering through my head is the amount of time involved in getting to the point that I can actually sell a book.
On the one hand–and objectively, I think–I believe that I’m getting close. I know I’m getting better.
On the other hand, it’s been a long, long time.  I’m insanely impatient, right now. Well, anyhoo… you know that one over-achieving classmate we’re all damned to endure? The one who straddles six or seven of your pet insecurities? Or, maybe that’s just me. Mine happens to live at the busy intersection of More Successful and Give Up and Write Sasquatch Porn. With regular stops from the Gonna Die Alone and Obscure Trolley Line. (And I’d really be breaking out the Valium if they were a writer.)
Yup. I ran into one of Over Achieving Classmate’s fans… or at least someone who brought them up often enough to grate on my nerves. I should have a sign to hold up.
The weird part is that I’m actually not all that much older than fan girl. (I Googled.) She just made me feel–uhm, decrepit.
At a distance, Classmate is my ticking success-clock. Tick-tock, tick-tock. How long until I run out of steam, and break down without ever reaching my goal?

May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Right now, I’m writing (very, very soft) science fiction, which means that I don’t need to know that the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066 (in our timeline, anyway), or exactly what George Washington’s false teeth were made of. (eww.) Now and then, I wind up looking for more details on this or that, (or having the mind-bogglingly obvious pointed out to me) but more often than not, I pull information in mostly so that I can twist it, and then throw it into outer space.
Oh, wait… you’re talking about how to keep someone alive in a near-vacuum long enough that they can be eaten by giant space bugs, aren’t you? Well… yeah. There’s that.

IWSG: The A-to-Z Blogging Challenge

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

The awesome co-hosts today are Christopher D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey!

April 5 Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

Last year was my first year doing the A-to-Z Challenge, and it was the first time that I had managed to blog on any kind of a regular basis. 2016 was a hell of a year for me, and blogging gave it structure, and a “thing to do” because “that’s what we do” that I desperately needed. Maybe you know what I mean. That moment when nothing else holds, and… there you go. A thing to do.

In a more general sense, last year’s A-to-Z Challenge was just the kick in the pants I needed to get started.  I’d done some blogging, mostly just storytelling for some friends from other writers’ sites, and my routine was spotty, at best. I was going to blog a novel (which turned out to be both a good thing, and a bad thing, and an unmitigated disaster) but, as it turns out, getting things ready to post–really, edited, didn’t misspell anything, didn’t use the same word six times ready–meant I only posted a couple of times–if that–per month.

I managed to post every day last April–or close to it–and I started to see traffic. And wow, was there a lot of it! Well, I thought there was, anyway. It was something. I don’t know if I handled it as well as I could have. To be honest, I was mostly in shock that people were reading my blog, at all.

The month of April was the best one I’d had at that point (although I’ve passed it a couple of times since then.) I had views and comments, and gained followers, and yes… I’m doing it again, this year.

My insecurity of the month: Getting ready to go to the writers’ conference: the clothes, the travel, the reservations… and most of all that damn revision. I’m so insecure right now, I forgot to be Insecure. Time for me to track down the next must-have scene in my revision and either write it or revise it. See you all next month.

IWSG: So, Do I Still Fit In?

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts on the first Wednesday of the month. More information and the sign-up can be found here.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG will be Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter!

When I was working on my first novel–the one in my bottom desk drawer–I was working at a bookstore. I was in a writers’ group, and even though my novel wasn’t up everybody’s alley, we all got along. We had fun. It was a community, and I felt like I belonged.

Now, I’m drifting. I’m in a more mundane job, and my real-life creative community? Well, it lacks cohesion. Here and there, I run into people who write. We have a coke, we talk… the structure and routine are missing. And progress? I really don’t know. I guess you can talk about writing whether you’re getting words or not.

I’ve started thinking of going to a writers’ conference. I’m finally at a place where I might be able to afford it, and where it might actually be worth the money. And let’s be honest, the idea of going out and spending a weekend with my own kind doesn’t sound bad, either.

Hello, insecurities!

Absolutely everything, from finishing my revision (I’m not counting it out.) to what I’ll wear, and the general–and terrifying–fact that I won’t know anyone, I’ll get lost on the way to class, and I’ll probably forget my locker combination.

It’s been a long time, and I’m jittery abut the whole thought.

Anybody else in the same boat? When you’ve been away from other creatives for a while, how do you get back in?  Just close your eyes and jump, or wade in carefully? Any tips?

IWSG: My Five-Year Plan

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

I just fell off a miserable word-count failure of a NaNoWriMo. I hit 14,000. The end. I don’t always do well with Nano. Most of the time, it hits while I’m in the middle of other projects, and dragging myself away doesn’t do much for me. But, every now and then, I get a real, live draft out of the deal.

So, my insecurity right now, is finding myself in the sea of all the things I want to be able to do with my life, and getting as many of them done as I can.

Finishing things, boys and girls. Finishing things is the goal. It’s the insecurity, too. I never, ever feel like something is finished. And then, there are the things I know aren’t finished.

I have a desperate need to work faster. Get more done. Revise faster.

The Question of the Month is Where do I see myself  career-wise in 5 years, and what do I plan to do to get myself there?

This is a tough one for me. I would like to be agented, and published, or at least moving in that direction. I’m finishing up a novel that I think might get me there. I also want to work on publishing short stories. In actual magazines. Somehow, those always seem to wind up here on the blog, and I’m not sure that’s the best use for them.

I’m hoping to get back into the routine of writing after a bad year, and also to keep up the blog, which is finally gaining a little momentum.

So, what about you? Plans and strategies for your careers? New Goals and Resolutions?

Plotting and Planning

I can’t really think of anything to write, right now.

Okay. That’s a lie. I can think of things to write, but I’ve decided to grant myself a cooling off and thinking break, instead. I’m at a place where there’s just so much stuff in my head, and it’s all jumping around.

So, let’s talk about my plans for the next couple of months, instead.

I have the Insecure Writers’ Support Group coming up on December 7th. And apparently, the question of the month is about 5 year career plans for writers. They’ve also announced the upcoming guests on the IWSG page, and I’m pretty excited to hear from them.

I have the Independent Bookworm’s Advent calendar. Must have a story for that in… oh, yeah. Less than a week. If you’re interested in getting a short story in your e-mail every day leading up to Christmas, that’s what this is. And we’re including some kind of “extra” surprise. You can sign up to get the stories at the link above.

I’m also working on pulling together a coherent approach to the A-to-Z Challenge in April. I’d like to put out some short stories, but I still don’t know how many of them. I’m starting with one day a week, and then I’ll move up to two, and so forth, as I gain content. I’m still looking for the right theme to go with them. If you want to join me for another path to writer insanity, link above.

And then, there’s all the treading water I’m doing for NaNoWriMo. I may have to break down and include blog entries, if the story I’m working on doesn’t gain some traction, soon.

IWSG: More Revision Terror

The question of the month is What is Your Favorite Aspect of Being a Writer? Of being a writer, or of actually writing? There might be some semantics to bicker about in there, somewhere.

My favorite part of being a writer is the community that it makes me a part of. I enjoy being able to reach out to other writers, to communicate, to make new friends. I enjoy the sense of belonging, based on effort and art. I enjoy the idea that at a very basic level we believe that storytelling is worthwhile, and worth doing well.

My insecurities, this month:

I’m going into NaNoWriMo with a half-revised manuscript on the back burner, and a whole lot more that I may never revise crammed into overflowing drawers and stuffed trunks. I’ve made my Nano Goal a more presentable, cleaner first draft, and I’m working toward that.

My doubt–as always–is that I can revise quickly and efficiently. I’ve reached the point where writing 50,000 words in a month isn’t impossible. It’s not even all that unusual. But the revision… That gets to me. Particularly since I have a tendency not to write things in order, or even in recognizable chunks.

Right now… I’m trying to work with ONE piece of paper at a time.

I get ONE piece of paper. Not a notebook. Not a computer. ONE piece of paper. When that’s full, I get another piece of paper. I don’t get to make a lot of starts and stops, and I don’t get to freak out and bounce all over the place. Naturally, part of the problem will be staying away from the endless supply of paper.

We’ll see how it all works out, and I’ll report back in a month.

IWSG: Am I Good Enough?

Go here for more information about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or to Sign Up.

When I first started this round of query research, I had a dream in which an agent returned my query letter along with a do-it-yourself flaming bag of dog poop kit. Dear Author: Please ignite this on your porch. Well, I suppose we can all be grateful that, being city people, agents have very limited access to horse poop.

The first time I ever showed a novel to a beta reader… well, the first time someone actually told me what they were really thinking…. my inner pantser was hard at work. I’d been revising, but the truth is, I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to revise, and what I had was the shiniest, most grammatically correct chunk of scrap metal that ever walked the earth.

Eventually, she gave the manuscript back, and admitted she couldn’t get through it. It was repetitive. Circular. Hard to follow. It was a disaster.

And she was right.

I won’t get into details, but the book didn’t start in the right place. It had way too many characters (most of them, corpses.). And somehow–I’m still not sure how I missed it–it had two protagonists, and they each had a partial plot line, and it was… well, sorta two incomplete books smashed together to make one complete disaster.

The picture I had in my head was so clear… and yet, what I’d written was unreadable.

After that, I’m always a little unsure if something–particularly something long–is good enough. Am I good enough? Is my writing good enough? Am I capable of holding a stranger’s attention through three or four hundred pages?

The whole “Am I Good Enough?” Question ties in with this month’s IWSG question. How do I tell if my project is ready? Well, I guess the answer is, I don’t. I run it through my revision process. Read through it a few times… and then send it out to other people to make that determination. I wouldn’t trust myself, but my friends are smart, and they have good taste. And if they like it, and if they’re able to make it all the way through… I fix the things they think need to be fixed, and ship it out.

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IWSG: Being Open, and Honest, and Finding Time for Writing

I’m an introvert, believe it or not. I’m good at hiding it–both on my blog and in real life–but that’s what I am. Someone who knew me well once said that I’m an audience person. I’m fine as long as no one expects me to be myself. Turn down the stage lights, put down the mic, and I’m terrified.

This blog is somewhere just past my comfort level. And a whole lot past my comfort level, if I have to think about people I know in real life reading it. (Which, I don’t, because there are so few of them who do. Even the ones who have the URL.)

I want to be open about my projects, and about my life in general, but there’s always that fear that I’m just not interesting enough to be worth anybody’s time… or that I’m too messed up to be.  Or that I’ll be open and honest, and shock and horrify everyone until they don’t love me anymore, and pretend not to know me when we meet on the streets.

Question of the Month:

Making time for writing used to be a problem for me. It’s still a problem, but it’s the kind of problem you overcome 99% of the time, like finding time to brush your teeth. No one ever says they don’t have time to brush their teeth.

So, the first time I ever finished a novel–meaning, the first time I made the decision to sit down and actually do it–was for NaNoWriMo. There was something about the community, and the support, and the clearly defined “This is What I’m Going to Do Today” goals that made finding the time seem so much easier.

I’ve slowly crept away from time-wasters. I don’t listen to more than two or three television shows (and always on the internet where I can control the schedule) and the few video games I used to play… gone.

Now, my goals shift–right now I’m looking to build my website–but there’s always time for writing of some kind.

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group’s Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting.

If you want to join us, or just see other blogs on the tour, follow the link below:

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

The IWSG Theme I Missed

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group decided it needed to have an (optional) theme for its posts, and somehow–busy life, no time–I managed to miss it, entirely.

This month’s theme was What is the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about your writing?

That’s a good one. Good, enough, in fact that I’m going back to catch up, today. I’ve gotten some nice compliments on my writing, and a whole lot of encouragement, even from people who aren’t all that complimentary.

There are people who have stuck by me–as friends and fellow writers for years while I improve, and people who have delivered just the right advice at the right moment.

But I think I’ll share a picture of a compliment, today. That sounds rare and exotic, and nearly fantastical, but I do happen to have a picture.

Photograph of a Real Compliment

Photograph of a Real Compliment

That’s a screenshot from my stats page. Now, you’ll note that I’m not a high-traffic blog. Just a few stories between friends. But that’s the list of views from a day when somebody found the novel I’m blogging, and started reading, and kept on reading.

I can’t recall if that person left a comment. Some of them do, and some of them don’t.

But they gave me their afternoon, and their time and their attention–because they decided my work was worth reading– and here’s the proof.

Life Happens

Insecure Writers' Support Group logoI need to get writing.
And I don’t mean those benign little paragraphs of fluff that prevent me from having to admit that I’ve done absolutely nothing in the past month. I don’t think I’ve done anything useful, but I have gotten some ink on my hands.
Things started happening. Real life happened. And then, more real life happened. And I happen to be pretty pleased with myself that I I kept my momentum on this blog. Not that it’s great literature for the ages, but at least, it’s progress.
I haven’t touched my revision in ages. Or my other revision… or…
Well, you get the picture.
I was making progress on the Lepterian thing. Not good progress, but at least I was moving forward. I was stalled out on the–apparently major–revision of my slicey-dicey serial killer thriller before then.

This month seems to be all about motivation and working around the bad stuff. I’m not all that good at that.

I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo–without any real plan, and without an idea–and I’m fighting my way through it, but I’m not in love with the idea I did finally come up with. And I don’t really think I’m going to be.

Pushing forward, anyway.

Story Time Blog Hop Logo

Short Speculative Fiction Stories

I’m also hosting the Story Time Blog Hop this month, and I want to invite everyone to join us.  The rules and details are here, but if you write Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Speculative Fiction, you’d probably fit in. The deadline for links is July 20th.  If you’re interested in taking a look at past stories, I keep a list of Story Time Blog Hop Links that could keep you busy for a while.

I’d love to see everybody reading with us on the 27th, when the new Story Time tales go live.

So, **closes eyes, clenches jaw, and leaps.** Please come to my party, everyone.