Knowing You Can’t Fail

I’m not doing a blog post every day now, but I still want to keep up with the time I spend writing and what I’m up working on.   

6/1 – Today I editing a Short story for “Tales from the Crust” a pizza-themed horror collection. Worked 2 hours and 32 minutes   

6/11 – Wow, I didn’t mean to take that much of a break!  A few days sure, but not 10! I started a training class at work last week which has cut into my time. I’ve also been working on some important personal projects.  This past weekend was Fringe Festival, one of my favorite events, which kept me from doing any writing but did inspire me. I love personal monologue style plays. I should do something like that someday.  

I have a submission deadline in a few days and I’m not sure what I want to send  This publisher requires that all pieces have QUILTBAG+ content. I have a lot of unpublished stories which fit that requirement. However, I always want to write something new for every call.  I know this is because it’s the writing I really enjoy. If I were to write something new I could put off all the hard, boring and self-esteem hurting stuff. If I use a piece I already have then I go straight into looking through my stories, reading old stuff, editing, finding someone else to read/edit, and maybe the hardest part, actually submitting. All that stuff sound totally “ick!”.  

I know that writing a new story is a bad idea when I only have 4 days until the deadline. Also, it just makes more sense to submit things that are already done.  I have too many unpublished stories, that represent maybe hundreds of hours of work. Work that no one else has read. I write because I enjoy writing of course, but also because I want other people to enjoy reading it.  

After checking in “finished stories” I think I have two contenders.  One is dieselpunk and the other is horror. This place doesn’t want reprints and the horror one was sort of published before, so I think the dieselpunk one will be the most likely choice.  I’ll read it tomorrow and see how I feel. I’m not sure how overt they want the QUILTBAG aspects to be. How important they want that aspect to be to the story. In most of my stories with queer characters, their queerness isn’t the driving force of the story.  They are people who just happen to be queer, much as being straight or cis isn’t core plot points in any of my other stories. I assume all my characters are bi and somewhere on a gender spectrum because I’m bi and somewhere on a gender spectrum. In fact, I just assume that about everyone unless you specifically tell me otherwise.  

I started reading “The Artist’s Way” today,  but I’m not sure I will be able to do this. The way the writer speaks reminds me a lot of the schizophrenic people in my family. Constantly referencing God or “Creator” is something I associate with harmful, abusive people.  Talking about how successful and amazing you are and then tacking on “but the real thanks goes to God” just turns my stomach. I find that having absolute faith in either a deity or yourself is very off-putting to me. I am willing to admit that not being totally certain of my greatness has held me back,  sure. I don’t think I’m anything special. There was a time when I did, but then I worked really hard to distance myself from the deluded members of my family. Now with a firmer grasp on reality, I can see my weaknesses.

If I thought I was some amazing gift to humanity, given by God him/herself to enlighten the world would I be a successful writer?  Is ego the key to creating good art? Do you have to believe you can’t fail in order to succeed?  

Total writing time 1 hour 16 minutes.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 30!

Yay!!!!  I did it!!!  I wrote every day for 30 days.  

The inspirational final entry of the “Writer’s Boot Camp” is about taking every opportunity to write that you can and to not wait for the perfect moment.  I agree with this, I spent a long time looking for this perfect moment when my house was clean and I could sit out in my beautifully landscaped garden sipping tea and writing the next great American novel.  Now I’m ok sitting in my dirty office during breaks from my day job writing the next mediocre short story

She also feels that you should want to write more than anything in the world.  That when you are out with friends you should be thinking about how you wish you were writing when you are at a parade or watching TV or doing anything you should be thinking about how you would rather be writing. This I disagree with.  I try to live in the moment, when I’m eating cheese dip it should be because I want to be eating cheese dip. When I’m walking on a lovely beach at night it will be because I want to walk on a lovely beach at night. Yes, there are times when I’m doing social things when I think “I wish I was writing” and when that happens if possible I should leave.  But I don’t think I should have to pick between writing and being alive, then again a lot of the greatest writer’s did, so I might be wrong.

I bet you are asking “What’s next for our emotionally broken yet perky heroine?”  

  • Today I’m going to submit a short story and start on another one, that is actually due tomorrow. So yes, I going to try to write, edit and submit a story in 1 day.  This is almost certainly going to fail, but I figure “what the fuck?” might as well try.
  • I’m going to pick one or more of these books to work on. This sort of framework has been really good for me.  Some of these are such that it’s possible to do two at a time. I will write about it some, probably not every day
  • I’m going to keep submitting, trying to submit to as many of the markets I find as possible.
  • As soon as I know what my permanent work schedule is (Job 1) I’m going to come up with a writing schedule and try my hardest to stick to it.
  • I’m going to sign up for at least 2 writers workshops and networking event in the next 12 months.  
  • I’m going to finish content editing my novel,  find at least two beta readers to read it, hire an editor once I have enough money saved and I’m going to get it published.  I’ll start with trying to find a traditional publisher, but I’ll probably get bored and self-publish.

I’m feeling good about what I’ve done the past month.  I feel proud, which isn’t something I often feel anymore.  The mean voices in my head are trying to tell me this is a small thing, a silly thing and that I didn’t really accomplish anything, but fuck that.  It’s ok to feel proud. I’ve spent too much time with people who make it their goal to make others feel small and stupid.  I’m certainly not going to do that to myself!  I’m going to keep doing things that make me feel the way I do today, and I’m going to keep surrounding myself with people who encourage each other and appreciate their friend’s success.    

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Wow.  Today I have been a super writing Beast!!!  I have edited a story, had a friend read and edit it, had another friend read it and then did a final look at it before formatting and submitting. I have also written 4880 words (not counting this blog post or changes made when editing).  

Total writing time 4 hours and 56 minutes!

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 29

I’m starting on this a little late today because I had physical therapy and then an amazing massage at Massage Geeks, and then pie. Now I’m home and going to do this before anything else.

Today I’m looking back at the past month and answering some questions.  

Were you able to make improvements to your writing routine?   

Hmmmm….I would have to say no. I don’t have a routine, part of this time I was off work for a few weeks, part of it I was starting a new position with my company.  Somedays I started writing at around 10 a.m, other days I was scrambling at around 10 p.m. Having a steady writing schedule would be super useful for me, but with my job up in the air the way it was that just wasn’t possible.  I still don’t know what my permanent schedule is going to be, so I can’t really plan anything out now. If I was rich and didn’t have to work then this would be a lot easier. As my friend, Lori says “Just be Rich” (inside joke about a bumper sticker)

Were you able to resist feeling guilt and uncertainty about your goal when other weren’t supportive?  

Yes and No.  Sometimes I did, but other times I felt really bad about the time I was spending do this that and how it is probably all a big waste of time.  I felt like I should have been paying attention to people or packing for my upcoming move. 

Do you want to re-evaluate your schedule?  

Yes, I would love to, if I had one. As soon as I know my work schedule I’ll figure something out.  

Which elements of your Boot Camp routine will you take forward with you?

Hopefully working on writing every day.  Even it if is just for 30 minutes a day that adds up to something in the long run.  Maybe blogging about the process like once a week.  

How far did you get with your WIP?

Well, I wrote a brand new short story,  got a good start on two others, wrote two poems start to finish and submitted them, started another poem, edited a previously written story and wrote 28 blog posts.  I am pretty amazing and I feel proud. 

What is your plan for the next month?  

I made a submission tracker last week with 12 projects I want to submit to.  I’ve only completed one so far, I intend to do most of the others, as many as I can.  I also plan to start another book on writing craft. I have about 10 to choose from. I’ll pick one tomorrow.  I’m not going to blog about it every day, but I should do at least once a week. I think having the blog has helped keep me focused.  I going to see if I can figure out how to get followers for my blog, so I can get feedback. 

Writer’s Boot Camp recommends that I write and publish a little book, 4th-grade style,  binding it myself and doing my own cover. That is actually a fun idea. I don’t have time to do this right now since I have a deadline tomorrow, but I’m putting it on my to-do list.   I think I’ll do this maybe as a fundraiser for getting my novel edited or something like that.  I still have my first ever “book” in that format! (No way I’m going to read that, but I’ll put up a picture of the cover). 

Time to read over my submission for tomorrow again and make a few more edits.  

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I edited “Cinder” again, and I think it’s a good as it’s going to get.  I sent it to my friend Adriane to check for grammar and spelling and all that stuff.  I guess there isn’t much more I can do tonight unless I want to start on another story.  I sort of want to start on another story, but I think I have to do other things too right?  

Total writing time today is 1 hour 27 minutes

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 27

Today’s topic is “resistance from other people”.  The author talks about how people don’t like change,  how our friends and family might want to be supportive, but they will actually push back against anything that messes up the stability of their lives.  They are super happy you are working on something that is important to you, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of you being the person they are used to you being.  

This isn’t actually a problem for me currently.  My parents are dead. I don’t have children. Aside from a few holidays my nieces and nephews don’t “expect” me to be around.  I have a lot of friends, but not a lot of steady dates with them. I don’t have a yoga class or weekly coffee date sort of thing with anyone.  I generally hang out with a few friends over the weekend and go to a few parties. So far writing hasn’t really gotten in the way of my social life much.  I was too busy to host ritual last month, so I guess a few people noticed that.

I know that the time I’m spending on my writing has had an affect on my boyfriend.  I’ve had to write during times when he was visiting me, or I’ve had to write while he was driving us to some events. But mostly I work on things when he isn’t around, we have about 3 night a week that we spend together and I can work around them without too much trouble.  

I live alone, so no one notices and is hurt if I don’t do the domestic things.  No one notices if I stay up really late or work at odd hours. No one cares if I eat, or when.  

When I was married my husband was both great for my writing and horrible for it.  He was awesome in that he is an avid reader of the sorts of things I write and therefore able to give good feedback.  He is great at spelling and grammars, so was a super helpful editor. There have been days this past month when I have missed him so much.  I felt like he “got” my writing and when I wrote something he was proud of me and excited to read it. I think he liked the idea of being married to a writer, too.  I’ve had to stop myself from talking to him about my work and emailing him stuff, especially a poem I finished recently that he would have loved. Divorce is hard, even though he has been gone over a year in some ways I am just not used to him not being here.  No one likes my writing as much as he did. Other people in my life care that I’m doing something important to me, they care that I’m accomplishing my goals, but no one actually cares about my stories like he did.

However, Rachel Federman is correct about the resistance from a spouse too.  When I was really into writing, like doing NANO or writing for Dryden our relationship would get strained.   He would notice if I didn’t clean enough during the day, he would get annoyed if I didn’t want to take the time to make dinner with him or do things together in the evening.  He didn’t understand the emotional strain of writing. I remember one of our worst fights was when I got rejected for a story I was sure I was going to be accepted for. I cried and he tried to make me feel better. When I wouldn’t just feel better, when I kept being sad he got really mad.  He didn’t understand why it was such a big deal or why his attempt at comforting me didn’t fix it.   I didn’t write much for a while after that.

So, anyway, today’s topic isn’t really a problem for me.  Which is a good thing for my writing, because being alone is probably the best way to get things done.  But is bad for me in other ways. I feel jealous of people who have happy marriages or close families. I often feel very isolated and I don’t feel like I have many people interested in reading my stories and giving me constructive feedback.

I’m working today (Full-time day job), so I’m working on the blog post during my lunch break.  I’ll have to do the other writing after work. Today I’m going to do some research on the next place I’m scheduled to submit to, decide if I can edit something I already have or if I need to write something new.  Then I’ll get to work on that.

*******

Looking through my super fancy writing planner I found 4 stories that would be a good possible fit for this call.  Two of them are finished but need editing and 2 aren’t finished. I have 3 days to get something ready and sent, so I don’t have time to write a new piece.  

I’m going to pick one and try to clean it up tomorrow.  If anyone wants to be a reader I will always appreciate it.  

Total writing time 1 hour and 7 minutes.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 26

Yesterday was a busy and fun-filled as I said it would be.  I went to a fan convention, had dinner with my niece and made it to the last few hours of my friend’s Luau.  There are lots of Luau’s this time of year, more going on today! 

The theme of day 26 is  “LIving the Questions”. The author mentioned Rainer Maria Rilke.  I searched the mighty google and found the passage she is talking about.  

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke was a Bohemian poet who wrote from around 1900 to his death in 1926.  I’ve never read any of his work, but now it’s on the list. This quote very beautifully expresses my concepts of Future Kitty.  I am always aware that out there in the future is a different me unless of course, I die soon. I spend a lot of time thinking about that future me and being angry that I’m not her, and that becoming her seems impossible.   I have tons on questions I ask myself all the time, questions that can’t be answered now, they can only be answered in the future.

The author put in the proverb “The obstacle is the path” about writing.  Today I wish I could just type up everything she says on day 26 because it resonated so much.  Instead I’ll try to sum it up into my own words. I want to be a writer, so I write to figure out if I can be.  The biggest challenge to writing is writing. The thing I’m most often thinking about when I am writing is writing.  

When you are having writer’s block the best thing to do, the thing you most want to do, is write about it.  When I haven’t written for a while I have a tendency to go to facebook and write about how I haven’t been writing.  When I am writing I have a lot of anxiety about writing. Am I working on the right projects? Am I writing well? Will anyone ever read it?

The obstacle is the path.  The thing standing between you and your goal is every tiny step you have to take to reach the end.  A tree that might have fallen across the path is an obstacle, but so is the flat ground, so are the paved parts, so is the bubbling little stream.  The whole path is the obstacle. I guess if the path leads to something, maybe a moderately successful novel, then each step of the path is filled with the anxiety and weight of the goal.  At any point you can turn back of course, you can give up on the goal and thereby give up that anxiety.  Which is tempting. 

The author says that “writing makes us anxious”  and that when you do it you have to be ok with that.  Sometimes while doing these posts I feel like there is someone wrong with me because of how much self-doubt I have, how sad I feel that no one reads my posts, how much I must really suck.  I feel like other writers can’t possibly feel this way.  That the great ones must have always known they would be great. I worry that my insecurity is proof that I will always fail. 

I feel bad when my writing gets in the way of other people.  Yesterday I left the house for MomoCon way later than I wanted because I needed to write,  today I know my boyfriend wants to go out and do stuff but he has to wait until I finish writing if he wants to do stuff with me.  

Rachel Federman (the author of Writer’s Boot Camp)  goes on to talk about what blocked her from writing and it is exactly the same as me.  Like, this could be me she is writing about. I am a people pleaser, I want people, friends or strangers to be happy with me.  I want to always show up for my friend’s shows or parties, I want to always buy something when I go into a shop. I want to always leave a big tip.  I want to do you a favor, the bigger the favor and the more it hurts me the better!  I am like a machine, where you put in a praise/appreciation coin and I will do whatever you want. I want to help you clean your house, I want to bake you cookies, help you move, plan your party, listen to you talk about your problems.  I want to sacrifice and have people appreciate me, need me and never abandon me.

I bend over backwards because I want the people I care about to care about me,  to love me. I want you to get so much use and value out of me that you can’t abandon me. I get taken advantage of because I don’t want to be alone. Sadly, even at my best, trying my hardest I’m not worth enough to keep the people I love. 

Back to the point…

There are two reason why I am bad at making time for writing.

 

  1. It causes anxiety.  Writing brings up all these hard emotions, self-doubts and fears.  It turns my gaze inwards and triggers bad memories. It makes me feel like the Hulk: “I don’t get a suit of armor. I’m exposed, like a nerve. It’s a nightmare.”
  2. No one appreciates it.  Not that they should of course,  and that’s the point. I’m not doing it as a favor to anyone.  I’m spending hours a day working hard on something, hurting myself emotionally, feeling stressed, missing out on fun things, letting my house get messy, skipping the gym and I don’t get the satisfaction on knowing I did it for someone I care about.  I don’t get any “thank you”. And that really fucking sucks.

To be a writer one has to value the future over the present and be selfish.  I’m a self-sacrificing, have fun now sort of person. Being a good writer by its necessity means you will be lonely often.  And that, of course, like so many things currently, makes me angry.

Today during my writing time I have to submit one or more poems. But first I think I need a short break.  

It turned into a very long break, I went to diner, a movie and grocery shopping. I was stalling. But I submitted 2 poems, with 6 whole minutes before the deadline!  

Total writing time today 2 hours 23 minutes.

 

Total writing time was

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 16

Today is all about figuring out my weak spots as a writer.  

The timeline given has 7 sections to think about:   

  1. Ideas- I’m pretty darn good at this.  I’m imaginative and creative.
  2. Rough Draft- no problems here generally,  sometimes I’m lazy or spend too much time in research, but the storytelling part is easy and comes naturally for me.  I like making shit up.
  3. First review- I enjoy the first reading of my work, while it’s still new.  I like making little changes, moving things around, tinkering with the characters.  This part sometimes makes me feel a little sad because I think “wow, you write like a little kid” but other times I love reading my own work.  I feel proud the first time I read through and edit a short story. Novels are different, I apparently refuse to read my novel, and the rough draft has been done 4 years!
  4. Second/Third/Fourth drafts –  I start getting a little bored, but I can do it.  I might have to take a day or two off from a project and work on something else, but I got this.  
  5. Proofreading and polishing – here things start to fall apart.   I don’t feel like I have the skill sets and tools to even try proofreading my own work.  Many of my projects dead stop right here.
  6. Sending out work – I have 12 “finished” but unpublished stories,  I have 18 “works in progress”. I have 0 places I plan to send them.  0, nada, none, zilch. I have a page on which to write deadlines, but it is blank.  I have a list of markets I should look into, but I never get around to it. I do have one piece that is scheduled for publication in September, so I do sometimes submit, but not often.  
  7. Dealing with rejection and resubmitting – Yeah, not so much.  I just cry.

That’s pretty clear.  I don’t find places to submit, so I never have to finish proofreading and then submit.  I don’t like rejection so I avoid it. Clearly, this is where I need to be focusing my attention.  It seems a little counterintuitive, but maybe for the next little while I should stop writing for this Writer’s Boot Camp and start spending the time searching markets.  That thought makes me feel a little sick.

Looking for calls and markets takes so much time, and so much reading and effort.  And once I find a place I almost always want to start a new story. I never feel like any of the ones I already have done will work.  This could be a stalling technique.

I guess I need to start adding “look for markets/submitting” to my daily tasks.  This seriously might be where I give up on this whole thing. This doesn’t sound fun at all anymore.

I’ve only been working on this half an hour and I feel emotionally drained, about to cry just thinking about it.  I’m going to feed the cats, take a break and then come back to this and start looking for story calls. Ick.

I found 12 possible magazines and anthologies to submit to in the next few months and put all the info in a spreadsheet.  

Aside from this blog post, I haven’t done any actual writing today and I’m not going to.  I just spend 1.5 hours reading calls and submission guidelines, that is enough for one day.  

Tomorrow I will put them in order by deadline date.  Then I’ll find something I already have finished and polish it up to submit or I’ll write something new to submit, but I’m doing these one at a time, trying to complete as many as possible.

Work time today was 2 hours

Thank You to My Tens of Fans

First off, I have been out of town for the last week in Chicago, so I have been too busy having fun to post to my blog. Also sadly too busy with the fun to get much work done on my novel, which I am about 5000 words behind on. But don’t worry, I will work hard and get caught back up soon.

Today, what with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I wanted to write a little thank you note to some people who are making this becoming a professional writer thing a lot easier. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book or told people about it. I can’t express how much your support means to me. I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. In fact my first memory of it was a summer night when I was ‘swimming’ in the above ground pool my mom had just gotten. It was a full moon that night and I wrote a poem while I floated around. Of course my little poem when I was 8 was not very good, but I still have it around here someplace. It was that night that I first thought that someday maybe people would want to read my thoughts and care about the things I make up.

Anyway, since I was 8, I have been writing and dreaming of someday having people read my stories, and even better of being able to make a living off of people reading my stories. When I was 11, I got a type writer for Christmas (not a useful tool when you are a horrible speller). But until this year I have always been too afraid to actually give being a professional writer a a try; afraid of rejection, afraid of not being very good, and afraid of losing the dream forever if the reality was that I could not do it.

Something changed this year. I think the first change was when I realized that sometimes people write stories and books that are not “masterpieces” and they do just fine. I don’t have to write something so OMG amazing that it rocks the world. I just have to write.

The second thing was that I can publish my own stuff. I don’t need any “professional” publisher’s approval to be awesome. I can be awesome any time I want, no waiting.

So between giving myself permission to not be ‘great’ and the ability to self publish, my last fear was just that I might lose the dream. Fuck a whole bunch of that. What is the point of a dream if you never even attempt it? It was time to stop waiting around for someone or something else to convince me to write and publish. It was time to take control and do it.

So I did. I worked hard and I wrote something. Yay! But some of that fear was still there. What if no one read it? What if everyone thought I was being dumb and made fun of me? What if it just sits there on the internet getting cyber-dusty? What if this is it, no one buys it, and I lose faith in myself and the dream really does die?

But then people stepped up and bought my book. Most of them are my friends in real life, supporting my creativity. But some stranger has bought “Treacherous Nature”. Friends and strangers alike, it has meant so much to me. Each time I sell a copy I feel so happy, and I feel the urge to keep going. I even sold a story to a publisher. I am writing a novel. I am submitting several stories every month. I am getting paid to write. And I don’t think I would still be working so hard if it were not for all the wonderful people who have bought my book, asked what I was working on, told people about me, commented on my blog, and just said “Good Luck!” or “You can do it” when I needed it.

I don’t want to sound too cosmic space bunny here, but this process is not just about writer and words. The reader is just as important. So, if you are reading this  — Thank You! If you have read my book THANK YOU!!!!!!