Friday Progress Update

The lack of progress update last weekend was due to an emergency at the day job infringing on my weekend. So today I’ll have to give two weeks’ worth of updates!

I finished NaNoWriMo at 78,923 words. While that’s an impressive amount of words, I barely wrote during the final week and I didn’t finish my novel. I got stuck trying to get from Where The Characters Are to The End.

I spent some time working on the problem, and I now have an outline that should get me there. I’m hoping to finish the book by the end of December.

I have a mass of writing-related plans for when I get there. In approximate order:

  • apply for the Lambda Literary writers’ retreat in August 2017, applications are due in January
  • research agents for submitting the Plague Novel and work on new submissions
  • research creating a Patreon for self-publishing my short stories
  • revise the Flight novel
  • research sites seeking essay submissions and consider submitting essays

You’ll note that resubmitting my short stories to web-magazines is not on that list. The amount of time that I invest there doesn’t seem worth the possible rewards at this point.

Besides, I have a Web serial idea kicking around in my head and I think I would much rather look into the Patreon aspect for publishing short fiction, since I think that might be a good platform for publishing something like that.

To make a long story short, despite rejections and setbacks, writing progress continues.

Progress Update

I’ve managed to slog my way through more of the Touchdown novel this week, taking me up to 26,218 words, or probably about 1/3 of the way there. It’s an increase of under 3,000 words for the week, certainly not my best week ever, but I consider it respectable since I’m still fighting serious writer’s block.

I have a feeling that I’m going to end up junking a lot of this part, since if it’s no fun for me to write it’ll likely be no fun for anyone to read, but that’s just the nature of writing a novel.

Meanwhile, I’ve done some background work on submissions. It’s time to hit another cycle since all of my works have come back in with rejections. I had been putting it off until I feel better; now is that time.  I also wrote a couple of blog posts so that I can build my buffer back up from “do or die” levels (though one of the posts is itself on the perils of over-buffering).

All in all, the week has been moderately productive, though not amazing. I’ll take it. It feels like I’m on the road to recovery.

Perseverance

In a recurring theme, I’m going to blog a little bit about writing and perseverance.  It’s my blog and I’ll blog about something I’ve already blogged about if I want to.

Any writer you talk to is going to tell you that making it as a writer is a marathon, not a sprint.  That every writer has a whole stack or email box full of rejections.  That writing careers can fail at any point along the path, including after being published.  I know that and I don’t care.

I’ve gritted my teeth through “you’re never going to get paid doing that” and “you’re not a real writer if you’re not getting paid.”

I’ve gritted my teeth through short story rejections since 2012.

My most recent one was last week, and it still hurts every single time.

I’m gritting my teeth through submissions on my first novel right now.  Do I expect it to succeed?  No, because I’m a pessimist by inclination—I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than get my hopes up and have them dashed.
And yet I can’t help but hope that it’ll succeed.  Even as I’m working on my third novel before I edit my second because I fully expect that no agent will pick this first novel up, I’m hoping someone will want the first novel and I’ll have an excuse to go back to that world and finish that story.  I still dream about Robbie and Sam, even if I’ll never get to them again.  Because I expect failure.

But every now and then it really gets to me.  I take a long look at what I’m doing with my free time and think, couldn’t I do something more productive?  I could be gardening.  I could be playing video games.  I could be reading—you know, that thing I used to do for fun.  I could pick up a bassoon again (as though they aren’t prohibitively expensive, which is why I don’t still play in the first place).  I could start reading again, just reading for the sheer joy of it instead of picking books apart as I go.  I start thinking that I’m never going to make it, that I should just give up.  It would be so easy to just let it all go and stop trying to be something I’m not.  I have a good job, I like my job, I have people who love me.  I’m already among the lucky ones.

Invariably, this “just give up” train of thought is depression-related.  It’s my brain telling me that I need to take a break or it’s going to break me in half.  I have to stop writing two hours a night and tell myself that I’m taking the week off, that it’s okay to relax and play some video games and recharge.

As long as I set a time limit on it and get back on the horse.  Because writing is something I have to do to be happy.  Because I’d be doing it anyway.  Because I really, really want this to work when the depression isn’t eating at me.  Because I can do it if I try long enough and hard enough.  Because I will do it as long as it takes, because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.

 

Short Story Writing Process, Part 3

I’ve been posting the last couple of weeks about my short story writing process.  But of course, having a final draft of a short story isn’t even close to the end of the battle.  The third part of the short story writing process for me is submissions.

Once I have a story that I’m proud of, I like to send it to a couple of people to read for me.  It’s actually pretty hard to find people to read stories critically.  A lot of people that read my stories fall into one of two categories: they say they’ll read it but they don’t, or they read it and say it’s wonderful and fabulous and I should try to sell it.  Of course, occasionally I come across a reader who is actually helpful.  This fabulous person reads my story critically and tells me what needs improvement.

After that, I’ll review any helpful comments that I receive and decide whether they can be applied to my final draft.  I’ll read through one more time for minor adjustments, spelling, and grammar.  Then I shift the draft into manuscript format, if it isn’t there already.  I’ll spend a few days (or weeks) working myself up to the confidence level that I need to submit and get on a website that’s going to help me find places to submit to.

My favorite is The Grinder.  It’s free and I find the interface very helpful.  Because the only point of submitting for me is to get paid for doing something that I enjoy, I usually search for places paying at least semiprofessional rates.  I don’t feel like I should undervalue my writing by doing anything less.  If it’s good enough, I’ll get paid, if it’s not, I’ve enjoyed writing it anyway.  Once I’ve found a few candidates, I’ll read their websites.  If the magazine or webzine has free content, I’ll read a couple of existing short stories so that I can get a feel for what they like.

Once I’ve narrowed my possible submissions down to the likeliest place, I’ll read their submission policies a couple of times through.  I’ll make sure my manuscript is in whatever format they need it to be (this is the closest thing to taking a standardized test as I get these days), then I’ll mail off the submission.  After a few quick updates to my submissions spreadsheet, I find myself playing the rejection-waiting-game.

Some day I’m going to get accepted somewhere!  That day just hasn’t happened yet.

Short Stories Progress Update

This week was the week where I finally dragged myself out of my funk. I made myself sit down and do writing on Saturday. At first it was pretty torturous, but then I got into it. The end result was a full four-hour writing session in which I finished the latest (fifth, but who’s counting) revision to the Sister story. This was a hand-revision, since my last major computer revision completely changed the ending and fixed some plot holes, so the session also involved typing up the changes.

I took Sunday off from writing, but did some brainstorming on the Flight story. I used my Monday writing time to do a final read of the Sister story. Tuesday was submission day. I still hate doing them, but since I’m writing anyway, I might as well. I submitted Fake Sister and Bread Sacrifice.

The rest of the week was lost to three things: beta reading a friend’s book, trying to decide whether Flight is a short story or novella and outline accordingly, and trying to decide which short to revise next. I think it will be Greed, but I’m not sure.

Yay for a busy writing week!