Sometimes we hear something in one context, that has meaning in another. I was in karate class when one of my instructors said, “Stop trying so hard”. He was right. I was the least experienced in the class and was focusing very seriously on not being the slow learner and trying to earn my keep.
I connected this with my writing tonight after reading a comment someone left about me on one of my favorite stories. My best stories, the ones I’ve published, the ones that are getting the personal rejections, are the ones I had the most fun writing. Sitting down and enjoying the characters, enjoying the trouble I’ve thrown at them.
I’m constantly seeking improvement; what to work on next, what to study, etc. While it’s not that I should stop trying to improve, but every now and again, I need to step back and just let it go. This is timely for me, as February was tough on me writing-wise. Life required me to be fully present and not off in Dawnworld creating stories. Little writing done, no editing done. And that’s ok. It had to happen. But I’m pushing to get my schedule back this month, and when I do it, I’m going to start back in with the stories I love.
What about you guys? Do you ever find yourselves trying too hard? Does stepping back work for you?
As I write this, the Waylines Year Two kickstarter has 39 hours to go and we have some distance to make up.
I’ve been with this ezine from Issue 1 as a slush reader. I’ve even plucked one myself out of the slush for publication. Our reading team is fairly large considering the amount of submissions we receive. It’s been a fabulous experience. I loved helping to bring amazing fiction to our readers for virtually no cost. There’s the catch. Virtually.
While Waylines doesn’t have a subscription rate, we do utilize crowd source funding. The editors aren’t pro writers with a bundle of cash flying in. We run this zine because we love fiction and we love that you do, too.
This is a little zine that’s growing. Last year it was streaming movies and new fiction. This year it’s going to be comics and poetry as well, if we fund. Pay rates are due to go up as well, to match SFWA’s requirement.
As a reader, there are a diminishing number of markets that publish good fiction, and fewer of them for free. We just ask for a little love up front. If you have it in your heart, please either consider donating or spreading the word that we’re in the final stages of our kickstarter and have this one final chance to help the speculative fiction community.
For those of you have spread the word or donated or both, thank you.
The new year always starts hard and fast and this January was no exception. Writing, work, weather, it’s all extreme these days. But then, I ask myself, if you’re going to do something, why not do it all the way? 110%. 200%. Why not?
So here’s January in a nutshell:
- 4 new short stories written
- 7 revision passes
- 3 new submissions + 20 resubmissions
- 16 rejections
- 1 novel critique (nearly complete)
In addition to this business, the editors at Stupefying Stories have put together an anthology listing authors who are eligible for the Campbell Award. Eligibility is trigged by a first professional publication, and eligibility is for two calendar years. I have a story in this anthology for my Nature publication of How Cherry Coke Saved My Life. There are tons of amazing stories in this anthology. The best part? It’s free. But it won’t be available for long.
I suggest downloading the anthology and reading some pretty awesome fiction. 2014 Campbellian Anthology.
2013 started in a darker place for me than I care to admit, but I threw myself into writing. I started karate with my daughter and lost my afternoon writing session, and signed on as a slush reader at Waylines. My new submissions fell short of expectation, but my focus on improvement made me really think about sending out new stories too quickly. Two stories were accepted and published this year. The novel progressed but isn’t yet finished.
- Short Story Writing: 23
- Short Story Edits: 28
- Short Story Submissions: 80 (including 6 new submissions)
- Rejections: 74
- Crits: 21
- Book Reading: 17
On a personal note, I’ve learned I can lose the weight when I put my mind to it. Karate has become important to me but it’s still difficult to fit everything I want into my day, but I do my best. Better planning will help the fitness and weight loss without having to give up writing. I’ve known this next bit, but I have my friends (real life + online friends) to thank for supporting me. I hope I’ve made it a two way relationship for you folks. I appreciate you, and I’m going to get better at letting you know that.
2014 is going to be a challenge. Waylines work is continuing, karate has moved into year two, and my son will be starting kindergarten in the fall. Busy as always it seems, but that’s good. My focus this year is on specific areas of writing: description and voice. I’ll be participating in writing challenges via Codex, FM Writers, Liberty Hall, and Write1Sub1.
- Short Story Writing: 52 (include flash fiction)
- Short Story Edits: 52
- Novella Writing: 2
- Novella Edits: 2
- Novel: Winter Warrior (54k)
- New Submissions: 24
- Crits: 25
- Book Reading: 25
Looking forward to 2014. Have a wonderful year! I hope you achieve all you want.
I’m pleased to anounce that my story How Cherry Coke Saved My Life has been published in Nature Magazine. It’s free to read, so go enjoy.
Fading Light has been published in Bards and Sages Quarterly’s October issue.
Amazon Kindle Edition
Amazon Paperback Edition
Smashwords (EPUB, PDF, MOBI, LRF, PDB)
I have news. October is rolling in, and with it, two of my latest publications.
On October 1st, Bards and Sages Quarterly will be publishing one of my early favorites, Fading Light. (A link to the specific issue will be available next week – I’ll update you then.) It was heavily influenced by my husband’s grandmother, Joan Marshall, who had been diagnosted with cancer. She welcomed me into this family as much as anyone, and we shared a creative spark together. I have at least three of her paintings in my house. I didn’t know her for long, but she’ll always have a special place in my heart.
My next story coming out later in the month, will be in Nature’s Futures and will be my first professional sale. It’s a quirky little piece, one I had fun writing and springing on family who don’t expect humor from my writing. The story, How Cherry Coke Saved My Life, was inspired by my own Cherry Coke addiction. I was drinking way too much of it then, a few cans a day easily. I knew I was overindulging. A fleeting thought occurred to me one day, the title, and I wondered what I could do with it. I wrote it down on a post it note and stuck it to the side of my monitor at work. (Hey, that’s where the idea hit me. This was the fertilizer.) I had an image of two characters, but I didn’t know who they were or what was wrong. Only that they didn’t know each other. The story came to me a few months after that. I can’t wait to share it. I’ll update you guys in late October when I’ve got a link to the story. (I’m also working out where the journal is available for purchase).
I am so excited about these stories. Nature and Bards and Sages are respectable publications and the editors have been fantastic to work with. It isn’t just the awesome professionalism and writerly things like galley proofs and artwork. It’s a unique experience of some reading something you wrote and loving it so much they’re willing to show it to the world.
Thanks for listening all these years. My hard work is starting to pay off. For those of you who have critiqued these stories, I especially thank you. I hope you all enjoy the stories. And by the way, the cola addiction is down to 1 – 2 a week.