Stress and Life and Lessons Learned

It’s taking me longer to complete tasks, but I’m back on track, writingwise. The day job is a challenge at the moment, which is my primary mental reason for distraction and physical reason for the exhaustion. Suffice to say I’m pleased they trust me to take on new things, and that I’m equally pleased to be employed. That said, I’ve come up with a way to manage myself mentally and physically, and before I spout off to you about what I’m doing, I’m going to try it out first. 🙂

The orchard story is making progress though slowly. I’m also trying to map it. I usually map first, create the world and then build cultures and problems into it. This story was written at a time that this wasn’t precisely my MO, so I’m going backwards. It’s much harder to create a map and environment for a story that already exists. I know what I need and I’m under pressure to get the geography just right. But I am enjoying it, despite this afternoon’s mapping session ending early because both kids decided they wanted in on the action. We all had our colored pencils and crayons and white paper out. It was fun, and I’ll map this evening instead.

I’ve been asking for feedback on two of the forums I’m on (one of which I’m part of a small but efficient and wonderful writer’s group). My critiques of late have been reflecting the same basic feedback regarding the story (4 different stories, actually) being part of a bigger picture, or asking if it was part of a novel, or stating they’d read on if it was a novel when it was evident from the submission format that it was a short story. I’m sitting here, mentally scratching my head at this feedback. Most of these people don’t get to see each other’s feedback since the two groups are mutually exclusive at the moment. Something is there. And I don’t want to submit another story for crit unless I figure that out. So I asked them what they meant, or what they thought it could mean, because damn if I couldn’t figure it out.

The feedback was varied, but the underlying issue seems to be conflict resolution (which I knew is an issue but I haven’t been able to work through), and very possibly a style issue. The writer who suggested the style issue (aside from catching me off guard with a big OH!)) suggested I take a novelist I like and find some of their short stories and compare them. Love the idea, dying to find the time. I have to research this first. My reading has changed in recent years because of the kids and I’m way behind on novel reading. I’ll figure out who to find because my hunch is it’s a combination of the two issues. If I can get past these… oh man, just thinking about it tickles me. If I can get past these instead of giving up.. my stories will improve. Maybe someone will like them enough to buy them. Or I’ll just be writing more crap with a different problem.  Time will tell, as will reading.

And the simplest lesson relearned? Baby steps get more done than freaking out over what I can’t do. A page per writing session will get this revision done in about 3 weeks, but imagine getting it done. 🙂

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