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:

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.

Gathering Courage to Write

Story Time Blog Hop Logo

I have a few good friends–mostly scattered over the internet–who are writers. I’ve been part of some great communities. Gotten to know people. Had fun with people. Shared ideas with them. And I’m incredibly grateful for the internet. It’s the thing that makes it possible to find people who share my interests and goals.

And one group of friends has put together a Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Spec-Fic Blog Hop. (I’m hosting it for the Month of July. You’re invited to join us, if you want. As a writer or as a reader.)

We kick around ideas for promotion. I know we’re all in it for fun, but hey… fame and fortune wouldn’t be bad, either.

Some of our ideas aren’t too bad. Some of them are pretty good, if you could just see the tightrope from inside that chicken costume.

Well, we do what we can to keep the readers coming.

So, our blog hop has Juneta Key, from  over at the Writer’s Gambit. And for those of you who don’t know her, Juneta’s one of these incredibly talented, incredibly outgoing, shirt-off-her back types. She’s been promoting tirelessly, and getting the kind of results I could only dream of.

She invited some friends.

And today, one of them–Alex J. Cavanaugh from the Insecure Writers’ Support Group promised that if he couldn’t make it to our Blog Hop, he’d at least help us out with some promotion. Thank you, Alex!

IWSG is a really big, long standing, blog hop that posts on the first Wednesday of every month. I’ve only been involved for three or four months, but it’s done great things for me. It’s an incredibly supportive group, and I’m in awe of it. And I’m so grateful for Alex’s help.

But wait a minute. If other people have faith in me, that means I’ve gotta come up with something brilliant, and really, really good for the blog hop.

**Slinks off to write stories.**

E is for Effort and Expectations

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

Click to Visit the Insecure Writer’s Support Group


Click to Visit the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge


Welcome! Today is the first double-dip day of the month, with Insecure Writer’s Support Group and the letter E in the A-t0-Z Challenge falling on the same day.

And as it turns out, I have just enough E-type insecurities to make it work.

I’ve reached the point that Effort is a big issue for me. I’m getting into good habits, and doing the things a professional writer should do, according to all the advice and pithy little mottoes. I’m writing every day. I’m writing… actually, kind of a lot every day. And at a thousand words per day, done religiously and with diligence, that adds up to a lot of raw ore.

My hard drive is bowing under the weight of a thousand word (or more) per day. In one of the more shocking moments of my writing life, I was “organizing” the hard drive recently, and found… A 90k manuscript I’d completely forgotten I wrote. So, that’s the situation. I have a LOT of words in a LOT of different stories, in a state of glorious first draft Entropy.

And that’s where Effort comes in.

At some point, if I want to be a professional writer, I have to make the Effort to Edit and revise, at least some of these stories. And… because there’s so much volume in my literary slag heap of doom, I have to choose which stories are worth the Effort.

And that represents a complete, world-shifting change in Expectations.

The first time you write a novel… whatever the genre, and whatever the circumstances… you start out, and you’re not really sure that you can do it. You’re looking at a blank sheet of paper, and wondering how you get from there to War and Peace, or Harry Potter, or the Phone Book (whatever). And the whole thing looks like this monumental, completely implausible, and probably impossible task. After all, you’re going to write something that’s ten times longer than the longest theme paper you ever groaned over in school.

And then–somehow– you finish, and you start editing, and editing that book–the one you weren’t sure you could finish, and you’re not sure you could do again–becomes the impossible task. And you get caught in the quagmire between impossible accomplishment (I wrote a book!) and impossible goals (I have to edit a book?)

I kept writing new things… and I kept editing that first novel. And writing got much, much, much easier.

Editing got easier, too. I “finished” my revision, and sent the novel on submissions, and got rejections where people noticed I had a name, sent feedback, and **gulp** requested future work.

And all this took time. I kept writing, and I have that backlog  of work I mentioned.

The thing about a first novel is that you have the most inexperienced editor working on a manuscript written by the most inexperienced writer. Improve either one of those things, and the whole process gets easier. And quicker. And more plausible.

Of course, that’s also going to mean more output to edit, so in the big picture, there’s always an impossible, implausible task ahead of you. I’m here, deciding whether the first novel is worth the Effort to Edit again, or if I have higher Expectations for one of the more recent novels. Trying to figure out which novel I expect to be my “THE” Novel.

I’m at the point where I’m not ready to give up on the first novel, but my attention is starting to stray. My expectations have changed.

Visit the rest of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Face the A-to-Z Challenge