Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?’

iwsg

Third Time’s a Charm

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo – or NaNo as many call it – descends every November, sending scads of writers into a writing frenzy. Today, the monthly posting day for our IWSG blog, coincides with Nano’s kickoff.

The goal sounds simple. Write 50,000 words in a month. Only a mere 1,667 words per day. You write fast and furious. Banish your inner editor to oblivion for 30 days. Then, after the New Year, take your project and begin the editing and polishing process. For your month long effort, you end up with a nice novella, or a good start on a larger novel.

Only 1,667 words a day. Piece of cake. It’s easy. Right?

It is. Until you try to put it into practice.

Unfortunately the rest of the world doesn’t stop for our writing marathon. Jobs continue. Family life continues. Children and spouses still want fed. They still want clean clothes. Pets still want attention. And then there’s the holidays beginning to edge out all available time. Thanksgiving, with its many family obligations is towards the end of the month and Christmas is breathing down our neck like a demon. We’re trying to write, knowing that we should be buying gifts, addressing cards, and any of the other holiday tasks that multiply like breeding rabbits on steroids.

F&S coverIt took me three times before I completed the goal in 2013 and hit 50,000 words. Or, to be more precise, 50,333 words. My project that year was Fat and Sassy, a story of my grandparents and their six children (one of my mother), mostly set in the early 1940’s. Taking tales of the past – mostly from my mom – and fictionalizing them into this book was very rewarding. It took another three years though before the project was completed and published.

In 2009 I tried Nano for the first time with Three Bags Full. I made it to 19,000 words. In 2012 I tried again with Prissy and Paige and made it to 24,625 words. Yikes! Better, but still not there.

Then…ta-da! In 2013 I finally made it!

I participated for the next three years, and made it each time. In 2014, A Better Life A to Z made it to 50,602. In 2015, My Wildest Dream hit my highest mark at 57,823. In 2016, Peonies & Peppermint reached the goal at 52,087. Alas, a computer crash wiped out A Better Life and My Wildest Dream. Since I had a pre-publication obligation to Amazon to upload My Wildest Dream by a certain date, I frantically wrote for several weeks to try to recreate that book. (Writing more furiously even than I did during Nano!) If I failed to upload the book, I’d lose the ability to offer prepublication deals – for a year I think. So there’s a book there, but I don’t promote it and need to either take it down, or add to it.

This year, starting today, I’m working on another project, Every Day’s a Good Day, which I’ve talked about writing for three years now. It’s time. And I need the kick in the pants that Nano gives us. And I’ll make it again – even if I have to use a dirty little trick. The book is about working in a retail environment and maintaining a positive attitude. ‘Retail’ is a word that will come up often. So, if instead of writing ‘retail’ I write ‘retail-job-that-sucks-the-living-life-out-of-mere-mortals’…I get 11 words instead of 1. That should help me stretch and reach that goal of 50,000 words in nothing flat!

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Advertisements

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. This month we were asked, ‘When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?’

Oh no! This morning I wrote my October ISWG blog from a question I’d printed out September 20th. The event page had this question – which I wrote to.

October 4th – IWSG Blog Day — Optional Question: When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?

After the blog was written and scheduled, I saw another ISWG blog where that was written to a far different question. Going to the blog hop page, I saw this question – October 4 question – Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I know all is good. We don’t have to strictly follow the question of the month. But I wanted to clarify so if you read this and see the question I was writing to and then you go visit other blogs on the blog hop and see something totally different – that is why. (And by the way, the answer to the 2nd question is ‘Oh my, YES! But that’s a whole other blog post, so we’ll save that for another time.)

iwsg

Celebrating the Yes’s and the No’s

What I did then and what I do now are vastly different. I’d hope so. I would certainly wish that over the past few years I’ve grown as a writer, developed a thicker skin, and also grown in my personal and spiritual life. Which ultimately means if I’ve grown, I’ve also changed in the way I respond to many various life issues, only one of which is how I respond to rejections.

rejectedWhen I began freelancing several years ago, a single rejection wouldn’t devastate me. I knew it was part of the process – part of a writer’s life. But when I got several – okay, many – rejections in a week, and I think three within 24-hours, I crumbled. I laid on the bed and sobbed until I didn’t have a tear left. I took it personally. That many rejections all at one time meant I probably wasn’t going to pay the bills that month. I felt like a failure. For a week I wallowed in self-doubt and self-pity.

Fast forward a few years and now I’m not derailed like before. Occasionally I’ll still get waylaid for a day or two if the rejection I got was a publication that I greatly desired. But for most of them now, I shrug my shoulders, vow to send out another – or two or three – and I go on about the business of writing.

To keep my spirits up, sometimes I’ll do a search for popular writer’s rejections.

For a few instances, Authors.me, on their post Award-Winning, Best-Selling Authors Who Were Rejected, reported on these popular authors:

Zane Grey’s first experience getting paid for what he scribbled came when he sold a short story for ten dollars in 1902. His first novel, written the following winter, was not as successful, and when every publisher he submitted to rejected the work, his wife paid to have it published. The book did not turn a profit. If Grey was discouraged by this, he luckily got over the discouragement enough to become a prolific and widely-read author. The sales of his 90 or so books have exceeded 40 million copies.

Stephen King sounds downright proud of the number of times he was rejected as a young writer. In his On Writing, he says he pinned every rejection letter he received to his wall with a nail. “By the time I was fourteen,” he continues, “the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

Robert M. Pirsig weathered an amazing 121 rejections before selling Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book now considered an American cultural icon.

Kathryn Stockett was turned down by 60 literary agents before she found someone willing to represent The Help. “Three weeks later,” she says, “we sold the book.” The Help later spent 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

H.G. Wells received a note in which the editor predicted, “I think the verdict would be, ‘Oh, don’t read that horrid book.’” Nevertheless, The War of the Worlds was published in 1898 and has not since gone out of print.

Still not convinced? Here’s a list of 50 authors who received repeated rejections, some over a lengthy period of many years, before they went on to become household names.

It puts it all in perspective. If they got rejections too, then I’m in good company. One little rejection – or two, or ten – doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. What I submitted or queried simply doesn’t meet their needs for an array of possibilities.

Coincidentally – or serendipitously, as I don’t believe in accidents – I received an email this morning from WOW! Women on Writing. The subject was submissions and rejections. It referenced a column by Chelsey Clammer, and contained links to some of her columns:

Submit ‘Til You Make It, What My Submissions Spreadsheet Teaches Me, Hard-Working Writer Seeks Widely-Read Journal, Rejection Acceptance, Find or Fling? Figuring Out Where to Submit, Caring About Cover Letters, and How to Hold Your Horses, Breathe and Proceed, and Writing Contests: You Have Nothing to Lose.

I didn’t go read all of these yet – after all, I have a blog post to write and post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! But I did check out one that intrigued me the most – Rejection Acceptance. Chelsey interviewed author Jac Jemc, who has posted regular blogs since 2008 about her rejections and acceptances. Rejection Collection is a humorous, lighthearted approach to dealing with the downside that exists, whether writing is our career or our hobby.

Jac told Chelsey, “Posting the rejections on the blog really feels like a way of closing the door on the negative responses. Once I make the post, I’ll archive the email or file the letter, and that’s that. I look for a new place to send that story. Keeping the blog has really allowed the progress to become the focus rather than the rejection.”

Now that’s an attitude I endorse.

I may have to borrow her idea and tweak it for my own inspiration. But…hmmm…then I’d have to go back to my spreadsheet and actually count those pesky little critters. We’ll see. But for now, I’m off to read some more posts about how other writers handle rejections – something we all get.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

 

Blindsighted. That’s how I felt when my daughter asked me if I feared running out of blog post ideas. My answer: Not so far. As I enter my fourth year of blogging, I am preparing for the worst: running out of blog post topics. Like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, I gathered…

via How to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas: 45 Experts Share Secrets — Mostly Blogging

You wrote a book. You poured your heart and soul into it and worked on it for a long time–weeks, months, maybe even years. You edited and revised it, you showed it to a few people you trust, you incorporated their suggestions and you’ve read every single word of this manuscript so many times they’re […]

via 5 Things Not To Do When You Get Rejected — Megan Morgan

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?’

 

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

ISWG_surprise

I’d love to share a story about when I surprised myself by perfectly writing a first draft – something lyrical and magical that flowed from my fingertips and required not a bit of editing. (Yeah, that would be a surprise, wouldn’t it?)

Instead, today I write of another type of surprise. But, it turns out not to be as bad as I initially thought.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a query about a guest post for another author’s blog – an author I respect greatly and look up to as a role model. She accepted the proposed blog (Yay!) and proceeded to ask a question about a particular magazine that I’d been published in. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call it Magazine XYZ. She was considering submitting a piece to them and was curious about how they were to work with.

I pulled out my spreadsheet and checked dates. I replied with the dates I submitted the article, when it was accepted, and when I was paid. There wasn’t any back and forth about the piece. It was a simple acceptance, I cashed the check and was happy. All was easy and effortless.

And then the next question appeared in my inbox. How much did they edit what I’d sent?

Hmmmm – good question. I had no idea.

When I first started my writing career, I often compared what I sent with the final product. I wanted to see where edits had been made and how they improved the story. It gave me a good feel for weak points I could improve upon and ways to strengthen future stories.

Several years earlier, what prompted me to compare versions was when I read a short children’s story and I knew that I hadn’t written those particular words. When the story posted, I went to read it, anxious to see my work online. I forget the short phrase that was used, but it was something so foreign to me I knew I’d never even thought this particular phrase, let alone wrote it. Sure enough, a whole paragraph had been added – all completely new with not a spec of my own words in it. But, that was okay. I still happily transferred the small amount of money that appeared in my PayPal account and went on writing.

Now, curious about Magazine XYZ, I pulled out my complimentary print copy and reread the final product. All appeared well. Nothing seemed too foreign or out of place.

Then…I opened up the document I’d submitted to the Editor. Expecting to find some minor changes, words added or words deleted, I felt very confused as I began reading the original copy. Nothing was matching up. Oh, some paragraphs and wording was the same but was in nowhere near the same order it had been sent. Huge major portions appeared in the final cut that didn’t show up anywhere on my submitted piece. It was familiar copy to me. It didn’t seem out of place. It turned out the additional information on the subject was taken from my blog.

Looking at the two side by side, I barely recognized the published article as what I’d sent.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The final article was far superior to what I’d sent. In fact, when I looked at what I’d so proudly sent off, I cringed in embarrassment. When I examined what I wrote, I shook my head in amazement – or should I say surprise?

I’m happy they did such an intensive editing job on that particular article. There is no argument whatsoever that what they printed was a top-notch quality product. It was far better than the words I’d labored over for so many days.

I had two surprises that day. The first was my astonishment when I realized the extensive amount of editing that had happened. And while I won’t be showing anyone the original piece, I’m happy to say that the second surprise was realizing how much my writing has improved in the last two years. No, I’m still not capable of writing that elusive, perfect first draft. There’s still a lot of room to learn and improve more. But for today, while honoring the insecure writer in myself, I will embrace the recognition that my craft is improving. I’m better than I was yesterday. I’m better than I was last week. And, I’m certainly better than I was two years ago!

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Let’s face it: editing, generally speaking, is not the fun part of the writing process. Trawling through pages and pages of your work looking for errors and areas in need of improvement requires a lot of effort, and can be both time-consuming and tiring. Yet, it is a vital part of the writing process. Reworking […]

via 6 Editing Hacks for Busy Writers — EM Biddulph

iwsg

The Insecure Writers Support Group hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. We’re encouraged to “Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.” The group offers an optional question each month to write about. For August, the question is:

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

To check out some of the other great writers sharing their thoughts, check them out here.

WZ_hanging.jpg

Don’t leave me hanging!

This is really the only thing I could think of that bothers me when I saw the question prompt for this month. I can’t think of anything I’d feel strongly enough about to call it a pet peeve. I don’t know if there are things that irritate me that I simply don’t think about when I’m not running across that annoying trait. Or, am I simply harder on myself than I am on others? That does seem to be one trait that many of us who relate to the ‘insecure’ part of this group have in common. Many of us tend to beat ourselves up worse than we do others.

When I began musing about what could be a pet peeve, one book, in particular, jumped to mind. I finished reading it two or three months ago. It was set in the post-Civil War days when the country was still in the throes of uncertainty and chaos. It’s a time period I enjoy reading. And the book itself was good. But the author threw in so many problems that never got resolved, it bothered me. Now, I understand the need to add conflict throughout the story. But one issue was repeated several times. Something about an errant uncle and finding gold. Because it was repeated, I felt it was important, and kept waiting to see how it was going to be resolved.

And the next thing I knew…the ladies were riding off into the sunset, so to speak. Maybe not the sunset, but they rode off in a wagon…still without any news about the uncle or the gold or if it was going to help them out.

The End.

That was it.

And I was disappointed. I felt like the author had tried to set the book up for a series. Which is possible. But my proverbial nose was so out of joint I didn’t even go see if there were any books that came after. Most books I keep and pass on to my sister and mom. This one I didn’t. It went straight in the bag that went to the thrift store. I wasn’t going to pass the book along for another reader to end up frustrated at the end, waiting for a resolution that never came to be.

Maybe I have a pet peeve after all.

Tag Cloud