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.
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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.
Last Thursday (18th) The Insecure Writer’s Support Group held its second Twitter pitch party. I was a bit reluctant to participate, not because I think these events are bad ideas, but because of the frustration I felt after so much work and zero reward last time.
Of course when the day came, participation happened. I remembered that sitting around not tweeting pitches was a sure fire way to never get an agent or publisher to take a look at my writing.
I wrote two pitches the night before, but wasn’t satisfied with them the next morning. A bit of rewriting, some drama over what genre to place one particular manuscript, and I hit send on the first tweet. Before I could copy and paste the second, someone liked the first. For those who don’t know, agents and publishers search through the pitch party hashtag for book ideas, and someone liking your pitch is an invitation to send an official query. In my experience with Twitter pitch parties, when likes come quickly, it is a friend who doesn’t understand what’s going on, or another author thinking the like is a good thing.
Imagine my surprise when an actual agent liked my pitch.
A few hours later a different pitch for the same novel received two more likes. My other two manuscripts also received some interesting attention from two individuals. Unfortunately neither of those opportunities are a good fit for me or my work.
Now the waiting game begins. Sending a query, even one per agent request is no guarantee of a full manuscript request or an offer, but man, it is so much closer than I was on Wednesday. Even if these opportunities fall through, I’ve at least learned that one manuscript has potential and that information is priceless.
I’m very grateful to those IWSG members who put together a fantastic event. It is the best writers group out there. Any writer who hasn’t joined yet really should.
I’m super busy editing “From Water” and I really want to working at it so I can actually keep the goal of self publishing soon. But I’d also like to continue my Wednesday blog posts. So, instead of some rambling paragraphs about what I’m writing or not writing, you get this fine photo.
I’d intended to use it as part of a black and white photography challenge, but it wasn’t as interesting as some of the others and I set it aside. Looking at it today, I’m struck by the contrasting lines and bleak background. Seasons change. I get older. And I like this photo today.
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.
The first Wednesday of the month is IWSG blog hop Wednesday.
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!
You know the drill. Check us out and sign up here!
The optional question for this month is- As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?
One of the things I’ve tried to do over the last few decades is not dwell on my past. I spent most of my 20’s convinced that the best time of my life had already come and gone. Of course living in the past, wishing, longing, wondering ensures you’ll likely miss out on most of the awesomeness of your current life.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but here it is again. Being 25 was the worst year of my life. I felt stagnant, and very unaccomplished. I was years away from graduating from college, which of course felt years away from being settled in a career. Most of my friends (and my wife) were well ahead of where I was, and I was sure my life were slipping away and there was little I could do to change it. I needed to somehow slow down, gain perspective. So, on my 26th birthday, I told a little lie. If anyone asked how old I was, I said 27. I told that story enough that after a few months, I actually believed I was 27.
It might seem counter productive, pretending to be older, but it had an amazing effect on my mental state. What day or month it was mattered less and less and focusing on the good things in my life became easier. I was 27 for two years, and by the time I turned 28, I was less consumed by regret and anguish over things I could never relive or change.
I’ve tried to hold onto that perspective as I’ve aged. I keep in mind that each choice alters my life, what I do, who I meet, and where I end up. And I usually like where I end up. So as for last year, I am perfectly okay with how everything played out. There isn’t anything I would do differently. Sure, It would be great if I’d written more, been more diligent in searching for an agent, or submitting stories and poetry, but I still have time to do those things. I will try and use this past year as a learning experience, not as a way to punish my lack of action or be too proud of the things I did accomplish. I can always do better, be better.
What a wonderful concept.
Halfway through the NaNo month and I’m already behind. It shouldn’t surprise me as I’ve been hanging out with my wife every day since last Friday. It is easy enough to write and focus when the only distractions are the dog and maybe the urge for an outing to the bookstore, but when your favorite person is home, writing desire goes out the window.
And as today is my birthday (don’t ask, I’m really old), my motivations are low low low. I’ve new music to spin on the turntable and Sugarhouse BBQ is calling my name, begging me to come eat there tonight.
I’ll get it together, I promise. This weekend, I’ll be heading to Cedar City to drop my boys off at SUU for their Red Riot shindig for high school seniors. I’ll have 15 uninterrupted hours to write something clever.
The good news- Writing short stories has been a great idea. I’m sure they will all need loads of work after the month is over, but I honestly enjoy the editing/rewrite process (almost as much as the creating part). Once there is a completed draft to work with, so many interesting possibilities present themselves. I’m hopeful there is a quality manuscript waiting in the jumble of words and images I’ve been throwing together.
How about you fine writers? Any good works flowing from your fingertips?