Welcome to the March installment of the monthly blog hop of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Check us out here then join in the fun. We really are the best of the best.
The optional question for this month is- How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?
I don’t recall ever celebrating the completion of a story, but I do remember my emotions after finishing my first book.
For years I struggled to complete my first novel (a lovely work of literary fiction still waiting to find a home), getting close to breakthroughs but always coming up short. When after finally figuring out how to actually write a novel, and when I actually wrote the final words, a huge wave of relief washed over me. I may have cried (no may about it), sitting in my office, staring at the wall, then the computer screen, back to the wall, unsure about what I was supposed to do next.
I admit, I thought the hard part was over.
As for the celebration, I think I cracked open a beer, and I recall my wife being very happy for me, and asking me when she could read it. I also recall going out to dinner to celebrate (likely Thai food, or maybe Korean).
Finishing the next two books wasn’t nearly as emotional, but in some ways more rewarding. I really felt accomplished after finishing the second book, and instantly went out and bought myself a record or two. Having two complete works made me finally feel like a writer, which is pretty silly to say.
After the third book was complete, I took the family out for Mexican food. It may be time to think of something besides food for celebrating.
You know the drill- Check us out and sign up here.
I’ve had an interesting month on the writing front. As I mentioned before, the IWSG Twitter Pitch Party was very successful for me. Not only did it offer me a few agent/publisher opportunities, but it rekindled my hope for finding representation sooner than later. My query letter seems to hit the mark, and now I just play the waiting game.
Another interesting development- The manuscript drawing all the attention only contained 38,000 words, and apparently no one wants to touch novellas. I’ve been pondering ways to increase the word count without losing what I thought was a very good flow to the narrative. In the past, multiple attempts to do so have failed. Miserably, I should add.
But this time I was determined (nibbles people. Actual publishing folk wanted to see this book) to push this story to novel length.
Getting to 80,000 was not in the realm of possible outcomes, but if I focused and worked smart, I could reach 50 or 55. The day after the twitter pitch party, I sat down and got writing. I found a place in the first three pages that begged to be fleshed out. Two pages later, I found another. I wish I could better express how frustrating previous attempts and adding content had been, and how rewarding it felt to finally be able to succeed. It sounds cliche’ but like a light suddenly switched on, I could see through the darkness, understand where I could stretch things out, add story, take risks.
I still had hours of frustration and days where nothing worked, but in the end, I added 14,000 words over the course of a week and a half. I’m sure some of it will have to be reworked, cut, replaced, but regardless, I have a completed manuscript that I am confident querying.
Now, if only I could find that confidence for the other two amazing novels I have waiting in my file folder for some wonderful agent or publisher to love.
Welcome to the first IWSG blog hop of 2018. Check us out and sign up here.
We also have a great Facebook group and a very active Twitter feed, so do yourself a favor and join the fun.
I’ve always struggled with the concept of new year resolutions. Not because I don’t like setting goals or pondering what I’d like to accomplish over a given time period, but because of the arbitrary nature of selecting one particular day just because of when it occurs on the calendar. If I set a goal, it is because I want to achieve something, change something about myself, and while I would never begrudge someone for choosing to start some project, path, etc on New Year’s Day (seriously, good for anyone who works to improve themselves in any way regardless of when they decide to start), I get a bit put off by all the fuss.
Now, after writing that arrogant paragraph, I will follow up by saying that I have made all sorts of writing goals for myself in 2018 (my hypocrisy knows few bounds). Starting of, I will be participating in the IWSG Twitter Pitch party on January 18th. I am hopeful, but realistic once again. I don’t know anyone who has had much success with pitch parties, but I am always willing to participate. If you happen to have a grand story, please share it with me.
Sometime in the next few months, I also plan to self publish a novella titled “From Water”. The process may take longer than I expect, so please don’t hold me to that few months deadline. Also, I have submission goals for the year as well (numbers and whatnot, but I think I’ll keep those to myself). I plan to query agents, submit stories, be as aggressive as possible.
The interesting part to me is I’ve made most of these goals before and not followed through. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I feel like this time around will be different. I have my wife fully in my corner, pushing me to get things going, and that means the world. I’ve wasted far too much time planning. It is time for some progress to be made.
As always, I’d love to hear what you’re doing, accomplishing, thinking, planning. Let me know.
Hey friends. I’m sorry to have missed last week’s blogging fun, but I have been a bit under the weather. I’m sure you don’t need the details.
The good news is I feel mostly better and am back into the swing of most things. I’ve not been around to comment on all of your lovely blogs, but I hope to use some time today to do so.
On the writing front, NaNo is off and running, and I have chosen to write a collection of unconnected short fiction. So far so good, and I am right on word count to this point. Some of the stories are rewrites of older (often shorter) works, so I’m unsure if this really qualifies as a pure NaNo WIP. Honestly, I couldn’t care less. If some project gets me writing and creating again, that makes me happy.
What surprises me is how different my writing style has become over the last five years, from the way I approach the story, to the overall tone and voice I’m writing with. I will let you know if this is a good or bad thing as the month progresses.
Any of you taking the plunge this year? I’d love to hear about your progress.
Some blah news- As my stories did not score enough points, I will not be continuing on in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest. I’m not surprised. I really didn’t write well for this competition, and was mostly unprepared for the way the assignments were structured. I’m not too discouraged and might even enter the contest again next go around. This is a learning experience, and gosh, I like learning.
As always, I’d love to read your comments and talk some about writing, yours and mine.
The leaves are changing on the mountains. Temperatures are hovering near perfection. I get to wear sweaters and long sleeve shirts. Autumn is here! Oh, and also, it is the first Wednesday of the month which is when the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gets together for their monthly blog hop. Check us out and sign up HERE
From the website:
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 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.
You can also answer the optional question each month.
for October the question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
When I first read this, I thought in terms of identity theft. You know, something like I wrote my social security number on page 17, or maybe used my current street address. I can say with surety I’ve never done that.
But slipping personal things about myself, stories, traits, desires and dreams, sure.
When I was in my teens and twenties, the majority of my protagonists were loose representations of myself. I’d write about actual events, slightly tweaked, but anyone who knew me or was there could see through the flimsy disguise.
With practice, I got better and hiding things. Like many writers, I was able to create characters who could do and say things I might never dare try in my actual life. I would write idealized versions of who I’d like to be (and on one creepy occasion, someone I’d never want to be). The fictionalized adventures would be mine, become something like my memories.
If I’m being honest with myself, I think I still do this more than I’d like, but rather than jumble all these things into one character, I spread them out over everyone in the story. Maybe others are talented enough to write complex and interesting characters based entirely on speculation, void of any connection to themselves or anyone they know. That is beyond my skill.
On another note, I finished the second round of the NYC Midnight flash fiction challenge. Hopefully this story is more well received than my last effort, which honestly wasn’t very good. This time, I wasn’t sleep deprived or unable to focus. Hopefully, I’ll actually score some points and maybe advance to the final two rounds. If not, it was a fun and challenging experience.
My only complaint about the contest is the rigid use of genre and accompanying expectations. I know it makes judging a bit easier to have set criteria, but it makes the writing feel very controlled. I mentioned my story wasn’t quality work, but one of the critiques was, in romantic comedies, we expect a happier conclusion. In other words, don’t play with the genre. That seems a strange and vapid critique.
What about you clods? Any good words to share?
As I looked up, streaks of pale pink and yellow stared back at me me. For a moment, it seemed as if the sky were moving at an incredible rate of speed, stretching the clouds, and the earth lurched to keep pace. I stumbled, confused and dizzy, forgetting why I had come to the city, who I intended to meet. A passing stranger spoke to me, but his words were a jumble of incoherent sounds. I could only stare at the fading light, awestruck.
Three deep breaths, three rapid blinks, and I regained a recollection of my surroundings, who and where I was. She was waiting for me in the bar around the corner, a cold beer already placed on the table in front of the empty chair I would soon occupy. I was excited to see her again, share some conversation, one hundred laughs with someone I did not see enough of during the autumn months.
And in that moment, as I fumbled with my phone, framed a picture, instead of thinking how much she would appreciate the stunning sunset, the mountains dark silhouette like an oil painting, all I could think was how I wished you were right here to see this with me instead.
It’s my favorite time of the year! Summer is waning, and while I am not a huge fan of long, cold, Utah winters, I do love autumn. The temperatures hover in the near perfect zone. Football has started up again. Kids are in school. I don’t have as many yard work responsibilities. I’m calmer.
And I can’t think of a better way to start off this glorious month than with another IWSG post.
From the website:
-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! –
Doesn’t that sound great? If you like the way that makes you feel inside, sign up here. You only have to (get to) post once a month, and the feedback is always on point.
September 6 Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in??
My second novel was going to be about a woman trapped by a blizzard in her mountain cabin, confronted by the sudden appearance of her husband who had died from a heart attack ten years previously. He would inform her that he had been sent by God, and that God had decided the world needed purging. He was ashamed of his children and wanted to wash his hands of them, forever. In six months time, humanity would be gone.
Over the course of the winter, she’d engage in back and forth conversations, hoping to convince her husband to intervene with God on behalf of humanity.
I liked the idea, thought it would make a compelling story. About thirty pages in, I realized the book was going to come off very didactic, preachy and arrogant. Also, I was losing interest in the overall arc of the characters. The minor players (out in the big wide world) felt flat, locked into certain behaviors. I didn’t want to scrap the entire concept, but knew the idea needed tweaking.
The story shifted into a science fiction tale, where beings from another world have tasked themselves with taking care of our planet. Frustrated by what they believe is an immoral human attack on the environment, they decide to reset the planet, eliminating the mechanisms that pollute and damage the planet. Most humans and their technology must go.
I had not written sci-fi since I was very young, and I was sure it would be a disaster. Maybe because I kept the story rooted in the 21st century, centered the action around one family (aware of what is happening, but unable to do anything to stop it), and another small band of people, I was able to stay focused, not write outside my ability, create a compelling story.
What surprised me most was the way certain moral dilemmas played out in the book. I tried to write from as neutral a perspective as I could. It was fun to leave certain questions unanswered.
I’m still very proud of the book, and try to push it on anyone willing to read it (you, maybe?). I’m still not completely comfortable writing science fiction, and would never claim to be good at it, but I did enjoy creating this particular book.
Maybe I’ll write a thriller next, or a horror novel. Yeah, that’s it.