Writer’s Boot Camp Day 24

I’m actually starting this before work today!  I had to hustle a little more than usual because I have plans tonight as soon as I get off work, and I don’t want to spend an hour writing when I get home, because I also have plans tomorrow.  In fact several plans tomorrow, which means I’m going to have to skip something which I hate doing. I try to go to as many things as possible that the people I care about are doing, but sometimes I just can’t.  Events, birthdays, parties, dinners all that stuff tends to overlap, especially this time of year. I guess it’s a good problem to have.

The topic today is about incremental success, with the title being “you can’t pass go” which makes no sense, because in Monopoly you pass go lots of times, in fact “passing go” would be a good metaphor for incremental success, not against it.   

Other than the title I agree with what she is saying. My goal can’t be something like “Be a great and famous writer”  or “Write the next “Harry Potter” or even “be a moderately successful B list writer, making $30,000 a year”. I guess it shouldn’t even be something like “get published in Asimov’s or on Pseudopod”.  Because maybe I will never get published in my favorite magazines or podcasts, but that doesn’t mean I will not be published someplace. I have been published, I have been paid, I have had success. I am, in fact, a successful writer.  

This is super hard for me to grasp.  I have a horrible time trying to think of myself as an actual writer at all, let alone one that has been successful.  It’s difficult to see the anthologies I’ve been published in as meaningful successes because they were years ago. Written by a person I’m not anymore.  Maybe that Past Kitty was on track to be a writer, but Present Kitty missed that boat? I sometimes think of the last 3 years or so as lost time, that knocked me off track for being successful.  I literally have the thoughts that if I had kept at it a few years ago I would now be a “writer” and that since I didn’t, since I let toxic people take up all my attention for a while, and then had a sort of break down emotionally, and then got super depressed after breaking my leg and then started spending all my time working, that now I’ve “missed my chance”.  How does that even makes sense?

I don’t reasonable think there was one magical special point when I could have been a success and that I’ve somehow missed it.  That’s stupid. Yes, I’ve changed. I’ve had new experiences, new pains, and joys, but those things are story fuel! If anything present me has more potential than past me did.  

So what’s up with the lies we tell ourselves?  Why say “it’s too late” or “you missed your chance” or “you’ll never be good enough”?  Where do these thoughts come from? This project has brought a lot of those to the forefront of my brain.  I have found myself thinking “you shouldn’t be wasting your time with this, you should be working more, making more money.  You should clean or exercise, do something useful!” What makes me think this isn’t useful? I read. I think short stories and books are awesome!  I love them, and my world is a better place because of them. The writing of others adds value to my life on a daily basis. So, why should I think my writing is a waste of time? I’m not the best at writing, but I’m as good as many who get published.  And this is a skill where you progress with time and practice.

I did have a great moment yesterday.  I was reading “The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin (Amazon) last night, the story is really interesting and I was finding it fast and comfortable to read. So I stopped and second and thought about why, and I realized her writing style is very similar to mine, conversational.  She uses a lot of commas, she sometimes appears to be talking to the reader, sometimes she changes perspective, even putting the reader into the story going so far as to tell you that you are one of the characters. Her writing is natural and easy to read. I haven’t checked the internet yet, but I guarantee there are people talking shit about her writing style not being technically correct or fancy or some shit.  

But you know what? I bet the people criticizing her haven’t won the Hugo or Nebula awards… just sayin’.  

I can’t recommend the book yet, since I’m only about 50 pages in, but I can recommend the style.  When I finish it I’ll try to do a book review. I need to do more of those. Also, read more books.  And invent a time machine. And be rich.

Today, I’m going to be editing some poems.  Once edited I’m going to try to find someone who wants to read them, makes some changes if necessary and then submit them.   Probably submitting tomorrow morning. Hopefully not on Sunday which is the actual deadline, but that does sound a lot like something I would do.  Reminder to self, you don’t have to wait until the day of a deadline to submit something, it’s the last day, not the only day.

I finished the first edit of one of the poems and sent it off to be read by a few people.  I really like this one, and I feel like it has a pretty good chance of being published. I’m going to go ahead and post this but I might do some more writing later.  

Total writing time so far today is 1 hour 26 minutes.