Times of pain in writing are often followed by periods of growth. I’ve been experiencing writing pain in that I know something is wrong, but I don’t get what that is or how to fix it. Critiquing a lot can help, having my own stories critiqued as well, but that last is based on the attention of the person providing feedback.

I had the pleasure of participating in a special critique in which critiquers read about 20 thousand words of my writing across 9 stories: a spectrum from which to make observations about my writing.

Waiting for the feedback was terrifying. With that much ammunition, someone would surely cut me to pieces, except that I trust my writing group. No one would do that. It was more a question of was I ready to hear what they had to say? Hell yes.

I’m bursting with happiness that they provided me problems that were within my ability to learn to fix. My writing is flawed but not hopeless. (We all fear we’re hopeless, don’t we?) So deep was this feedback on so many levels, I’m rereading my previously written stories and cringing. Why? Not because I’ve sent these out to countless editors – it’s their job to read writer’s crap and send rejections, sometimes guiding us along the way – but it’s that I have so much work to do. I see what needs to be done and I don’t have enough time. How am I supposed to handle this? I’m going to have to prioritize.

I’m itching to work on longer pieces, a novella, maybe a novel, but I have so many short stories I want to share that need revising before I submit them. This is one of the hardest things: which project is next? I’ll work through this issue on my own, no worries. 😉 I’ll get to the short stories and the novella and the novel. It’ll just take a while.

In the meantime, what about you? Have you learned anything new about your work/hobby/passion? Did someone help you or did you push through to this new level on your own?

Pushing Through

The critiquing helped and the reading never happened, but two new flash fictions have been written,  and I’ve got a story in revision for the F&SF deadline next week (this week? geez!). I’m also working on the Writing Excuses prompts, one which really really wants to be a story RIGHT NOW.

Yep, things are looking up. Writing is one hell of a roller coaster sometimes.

Writing Excuses 2015

Hi there.  Have you heard of Writing Excuses? It’s a really neat writing podcast hosted by some fun writers (Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, Brandon Sanderson, and Dan Wells) that always seem to know the right questions to answer, and when to prod me with another perspective on a writing technique.

They’ve got a new format for their weekly podcast: they’re presenting it like a writing class. Previously they always created a writing prompt at the end of the episode and it didn’t matter if you used ir or not, but now they’re giving homework that you need to do and take with you to the next podcast.

Here’s the link, take 15 minutes and go listen:

Now that you’ve listened, what do you think? The first assignment is easy enough. (The hard part is actually waiting to go along with the assignment and NOT writing it RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT, because you know, I pounce on those short story ideas and bang ’em out fast.)

I’m always eager to try a new approach, to add new tools to my writer’s toolbox.  Kudos to the Writing Excuses crew for coming up with yet another fantastic idea.

That Voice. . . Again? Already? So SOON?

The voice is assaulting me today. You know the one. It tries to convince you that you aren’t good enough, that you’ll never write a story as good as the last one that published, that your endings suck and you’ll never figure out how to end a story properly except by accident or good critiquers offering suggestions. This is a nasty voice, and I’m usually pretty good at telling them to suck it and go back to the rock from which they.. you know. Except for the first time in a while, I really do feel stuck.

I’m dissatisfied with my short stories right now. I can’t seem to end any of them right. Most of them have a major issue I just haven’t been able to resolve. And I’ve got a critique deficit to fill, so I can’t just start posting my stories for feedback.

I do have a few things in the works that should help. I’ll get through this, I always find a way. But I wanted to share this with you so that if you’re struck by all the massive stats other writers have been posting, or intimidated by others’ grand plans for writing in 2015, you’ll know you’re not alone. Right now, I want to throw my 2015 plan away. I know, five days into the year, brilliant. But that is what the voice does. Right when you’re trying to get your feet under you, it’s wriggling in the mud and trying to tunnel through to trip you up.

I am going to revise my goals, but in a manner I think will help. I’m going to critique massively. One, it’ll take away that deficit and two, spending this energy on actual critiques is a good use of it. I don’t knock other people’s writing, I analyze it, so if the voice wants to tire itself out on what everyone is writing, it can and no one will know of it. Next, I’m going to read for fun. Remind myself why I’m writing, what I want to aspire to. And third, I signed up for an online workshop February/March which should help deal with some of those issues.

Looking back at other times that voice has reared its ugly head, I realize I had something to fight against. It’s an odd motivation, but it results in change.

So if that voice is harassing you? Use it.

P.S. Oddly enough the workshop I’ll be taking is about Character and… You got it: Voice.  I like weird connections like this. Onward and upward!

Out With The Old, In With The New (2014/2015)

This blog is about my writing journey. It’s for me as much as it’s for you. It keeps me honest, it keeps me accountable. If I say I’m going to do something, I try like hell to get it done. Writing isn’t my full time gig yet, so I’m not always in control of Life Issues and the affect they have on my writing. (And fortunately, life issues aren’t always bad. They just affect the writing time).

2014 was incredible in that I made 2 professional writing sales, both to Daily Science Fiction. Once upon a time, I could only write flash fiction by accident. I’ve been working on it, don’t you know, and at least two editors out there like my work. 🙂

I recorded my general stats, which I’ll add below. The big thing for me was that while I didn’t accomplish as many revisions (my to-revise pile is currently frighteningly high), the ones I did revise fared so much better. Am I spending more time revising? Am I revising better? I’m not sure yet. Maybe the first drafts were in better shape than others. I’m not spending too much time worrying about the how and why. I have newly written stories that need revising, and I’m going to work as hard as I can and make them the best I can. Hopefully, you’ll get to read them soon (preferably in a published zine or anthology).

2014 Results:

  • New Short Stories: 26
  • New Novellas: 1
  • Short Story Edits: 22
  • New Submissions: 6
  • Total Submissions: 87
  • Rejections: 87
  • Acceptances and Publications: 2
  • Critiques Given: 14 (including 2 novel and 4 novellas)
  • Books Read: 14

2015 Plans

I’m gearing up toward working on longer projects, my novella series for one, and completing a novel I started a few yerars ago but never finished. I’m sticking with the short stories, of course, they’re too much fun not to write. I’m trying to get into some online classes and workshops. There are areas in which I’d like to improve, but I need some help.

Best of luck to you in your goals and plans for 2015. May it be productive for all of us.

State of the Writing – November 2014

I’m in what I consider a healthy competition with myself to do better each year. As of this moment, I have written and submitted more in 2014 than I did in 2013. I’ve had 2 publications both years – but this year’s both are pro level publications. I revised less, but I think I revised better. I’m working more through my revisions, so rather than 4 or 5 drafts per story, I’m looking at 3 to 4 before I submit.  I’m still learning though, or more of my stories would have been accepted.

The big question is what am I working on for the rest of the year? I’m veering away from short stories for the next six weeks. I’m writing a novella, what I believe will be the first in a four or five novella series. I’m preparing to jump back into my fantasy novel. 40k words will need to be written and I’m aiming for New Year’s Eve as a finish date for that.

I love my short stories. I push a lot of words out every year and feel accomplished by getting them done. I also love my long projects which I’ve been neglecting. It’s difficult to do both together, so I need to binge on one form for a while then move on to another. Oddly, the break from the short stories is actually helping with them. While my focus is on the longer projects and the immense fun worldbuilding is, my short story characters pop into my brain unexpectedly with a “what if” question.

“What if” I reversed genders for the the main characters in that SF story. That would be amusing, actually. When it comes back from submission, I might just do that. It would mean SHE would save HIS rear. And when HE begs for the kiss, there are more than just sexual impulses that she uses to decide. Another story has been on the see-saw of ‘is this fantasy or science fiction’? Because it’s still at the point it can go either way. It has to be one of those, but the specific details will be changed to ground it in the right one. That I’ve been so unsure meant the story wasn’t ready to be done. Except now I’ve got a reason to make it fantasy.

The problem I’m having is that since my brain is immersed in the longer projects, I’m thinking about how my short stories can be combined (characters and worlds) to make novels or a novella series. Oh the trouble I’m in.

But these are good problems to have and I’m happy with my writing progress. I applied for a January online workshop. I’m thinking about using some time off from the day job to do some December writing. 🙂  So many stories to write, so little time to squeeze them out.

World Fantasy Convention 2014

WFC 2014 shall hence forward be known as novellacon for me. I love attending panels and filling my head with new knowledge and angles of thought until I can’t absorb another thought. I’m not so much a participant of Barcon though I made the rounds and caught up with most of the people I wanted, but one of my favorite parts, was processing on the last day. Processing in terms of taking the world building I’d been doing since Wednesday, the character building, the plot stacking, and churning that out at something I’m calling my Lobbycon Write-In.

There’s something about writing with the buzz of people surrounding me, especially when my brain is chock full of success stories for those who put their time in. It’s amazing what some of these writers do, and I’m in awe of the stories they’ve created. If I want to get there, I need to get my time in, do the hard work. Push through, get the words. It’s also immensely fun to write without concern for my normal responsibilities (kids, day job, managing the house). I can write to absolute brain-dead exhaustion without worrying that some crisis is going to come up and require me to take charge. The most I have to worry about is eating, sleeping, showering and charging my devices.

The panels at this con certainly impressed me. They were well organized to the point the panelists had either spoken by phone or emailed prior to the panel itself. The moderators performed their jobs amazingly well, keeping to the topic and asking through-provoking and entertaining questions.

I made it to one reading for a friend in my writer’s group and that was probably my best experience so far in attending a reading. (And while the fudge was delish, it simply added to a creatively planned reading).

I’ll probably have more to say as my brain digests the past few days, but for now, I just want to say that I’m really pleased the way this con went, from the organizing, to the old and new friends, to the team of Lobbycon Write-In computer watchers while I ran off the LR. 🙂

Later I’ll have to brag about the books – the free ones and the ones I bought. Peeps, it’s a year of reading. Seriously. Unless I give up writing for two months. Yeah, not going to happen.