I was so bummed that I was too ill to go to the launch party for the ZZyZx Writers Intersections anthology! This book is gorgeous. And I love having my work presented alongside other writers, whether it’s on stage or in print. Many thanks to ZZyZx Writers for putting this project together (and for getting me my copy!).
Hi all! I know it’s been a while. I’ve been bogged down with life things. Which kind of inspired my post for today.
I’m facing the Block. Writer’s Block. Big Time.
The funny part is I have a bunch of different ideas I’ve been excited to work on. I also have sequel ideas (series ideas, really). So I’m not short on inspiration so much as motivation.
I did actually start a new novel. I got about five pages in and something felt… Off. It felt forced. Or like it had no energy.
Funnily enough, I had already planned a beginning for this novel, but it had been so long that I forgot my plans and wrote something different. After my memory jogged a bit, I went and wrote what I originally envisioned. And what came out was much more satisfying.
Part of it is that I’m a little out of practice. I’ve spent a lot of my time the past few years revising something that already existed. Here I am creating something novel-length out of essentially nothing again. It’s a good thing. But definitely a challenge!
Hi all! I’m happy to announce my poem, “Listen,” will appear in Intersections, an anthology presented by ZZyZx WriterZ, who are also hosting a book launch and party.
I’m excited to attend the reading and meet my fellow contributors. (I’m also loving the fact that this group has launch parties! Been a while since I attended one of those… Sigh, work!)
I can’t wait to report back after I get my hands on the book! The cover art looks amazing. And there’s nothing like seeing my own work in print. (And watching my small gallery grow!)
Having some more distance from the Pitch Wars results, I thought about how I managed to be pretty zen about the whole process. I still get jitters when I’m about to send out a query. I re-read it even though I’ve re-read it about ten times to check for typos, etc. But sending is different from waiting with writing…
I know my zen comes from having a pretty solid history of submitting for publication and/or performance. I started submitting my writing more than a decade ago. It started small, at a student journal. From there the habit grew to submitting to publications online, to contests, pitching articles, etc. And I’ve had results I’m proud of. But I’ve had a lot of rejections too.
Ironically, my tough writer’s skin developed much more quickly than my own personal skin back then. Being a writer in academia was good training. The more acceptances (and non-acceptances) I get, the more I know that there is no better practice for being in the publishing industry than to have a history of submitting. When I do get a book contract, what’s next? I’m going to have to pitch the next project, too. It doesn’t really end.
I’m glad I’ve gotten used to it. I’m glad I’ve had the writing pieces and opportunities along the way to feel validated, to get my work out there, and to build the momentum of my writing career.
It feels great! But it’ll always be work… =)
Pitch Wars results have come in! I am not getting a mentor this year. And I am very okay with this.
While I would have loved to work with a mentor, I’ve reworked this MS many times. It’s been with me through graduate school critique workshops, then about two full runs through my own writers group. Heck, I was in the middle of some really solid querying when I paused the process to revise, then submit to Pitch Wars.
As I mentioned before, I still came out a winner because I came out ahead of where I paused in querying, not behind. I achieved my goal, which would have been the same whether I connected with a mentor or not–to have another revised draft.
Most people don’t like to lose… but I hate saying that I didn’t try. I mean, there were about 2,500 entrants (I think) who didn’t get a mentor? I know I’m in good company. And there are a lot more people than that out there trying to get an agent/get published.
Time to step back into the real game!
P.S. – Many thanks to the mentors, the Mentees Helping Mentees folks, and to Brenda Drake and her crew for this amazing summer-long event. Of course, congrats to everyone who did get chosen for a mentor! As for the other entrants… good luck to you too, I’ll see you out there!
My last post made me think of my writing process for fiction, which mainly involves me entertaining scenes and ideas in my head whenever the inspiration hits me.
It’s a little different for me with poetry and creative nonfiction. The memoir pieces and poems are pulled from my life. While I do think back on my life from time to time, I don’t really come back to certain moments or ideas the way I would a piece of fiction writing. When I write nonfiction, the process is usually “I want to write about this thing that happened to me or this thing I feel” and I pretty much just sit down and belt the words out.
It’s not so much a moment of inspiration that has to strike, but the urge to address something.
There was once a piece that I couldn’t quite get. It took me a few tries to nail down some form of it in writing. That was the one time I struggled with writing from the heart. Mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say in the voice I wanted to say it in. I’m not a very angry person, and this poem was about anger. A justified anger. An anger that other people who support me in my life have shared with me.
My poems are typically more quiet and introspective. They are moments of tears, grief, and loss. And they are usually moments when I feel alone. But I figured out this piece. This involved infusing it with the anger that others have felt for me. It wasn’t just my voice, but the voices of those who held me up when I stood on threads, with the world trying to crash down on me, again.
The poem wasn’t really about being angry. It was about being loved and supported no matter what someone else might do to tear you down.
Characters are known to take planned manuscripts in different directions. It’s funny that even with nonfiction, sometimes, you may not know exactly what you’re writing when you start.
(P.S. I’m hoping to hear some good news about this poem soon. Fingers crossed.)
A week later… I am finally posting about how, yes, I actually submitted to Pitch Wars!
While I’m eager to hear the results, I’ve been pretty calm about it. Part of it is because I’ve been through the querying and submission processes, so I’m no stranger to writing-related waiting. But part of it also is the truth to what many say about the Pitch Wars experience–even if you’re not selected to work with a mentor and enter the showcase, you win.
Whatever happens, I have another draft of my novel shined up and ready to go out into the world right now. I can’t argue with that.
In the meantime, I’ve been entertaining some other manuscript ideas and heroines I look forward to writing about. I’ve even dabbled with possibly doing a contemporary project. Like, without magic or sci-fi. At all. (Ironically, that’s the one I worry about pulling off.)
I’ve said throughout my life that having stories in my head is like breathing for me. I honestly have no idea what it’s like to not walk around with scenes and ideas coming and going. It’s nice to have a reason to take a break and embrace… well… breathing.
Good luck to everyone who submitted! And many thanks to the Pitch Wars mentors, and especially Brenda Drake and the Pitch Wars staff for pulling this off year after year. Whew. I cannot imagine how it is behind the scenes.
Okay, here’s something I learned recently during rewrites. I noticed I was improving. Yes, this happens by default, but I was improving in areas that I am not as adept in. This is pretty much physicality in writing–setting and movement.
Once in graduate school, a professor noted that I “write quickly.” Which was true, I type very quickly. Because dialogue is my strength and how I keep my story moving, most of a draft will be dialogue.
It’s funny, though, because there was one draft of my work-in-progress that had too much non-dialogue, and conference faculty mentioned it. It was very confusing, but since then I’ve learned and grown. After chopping a lot off, I realized what I had too much of. It wasn’t essential. It was a lot of backstory.
What I needed to bulk my ms with was the present. The scene. Setting, movement, etc. After thinking about it, my issue was (unconsciously) approaching novel writing as if it were screenwriting. Yes, I’ve taken screenwriting courses, but that only improved my ability to take action on ideas. (Have you ever tried going from concept to synopsis to first draft to revised draft all in 10 weeks? It’s hell. Amazing… But hell.)
While screenwriting skills lend themselves to prose writing, I was missing out on one huge, important advantage of prose writing–time can stand still in prose. When something happens that causes a reaction, you actually don’t have to move on to the reaction in the very next sentence. The beauty of prose is that you can stay in that moment of this thing happening for as long as you want. Same for the reaction.
This might be a no-brainer for most prose peeps, but for more cinematic-minded writers like me, it’s a big deal to figure it out on a theoretical level. I get it now! And it makes writing more fun. I just have to get used to doing it…
I thought I was strictly a fantasy writer until I started writing shorts. This was one that I wrote out by hand, in one night, while I lay sick in bed. (It’s been through some edits since then, but those blazing-inspiration moments are not to go unheeded!)
And here I am, a couple years later, with an idea for a full-on spacey novel in my head. I’m very excited to get on that novel. But… one project at a time.
I cannot thank my writing group enough for the support and the helpful comments. Everyone should have a writing group!
As I mentioned before, I’m preparing for Pitch Wars. Lots of thinking about revising. Lots of talk about revising on the #PitchWars Twitter feed. Lots of actual revising… Ow.
But there’s one thing I think doesn’t get mentioned enough. It’s something I’ve heard in workshops for years.
Writers should definitely never try to address all the comments they receive. It’s a follow-your-gut business, see how it resonates. There’s no point in trying to implement changes that you don’t feel passionately about yourself, right? Your vision for your story would be compromised.
There’s also this: Sometimes someone can point to a problem and be wrong about what they’ve discovered. For instance, they might think a scene has a pacing issue, that the scene drags. They might say it needs to be cut down or taken out completely. But the problem could actually be that the story is focusing on the wrong character at that moment. Maybe another character has a more interesting conflict in that particular scene. Maybe the conversation in the scene is irrelevant, and there’s something much more important to the plot to talk about (like what just happened in the scene, or scenes, before).
This is why it’s good to consider not just listening to critiques but looking at what they are pointing at. Especially if something doesn’t resonate–there may be some other possibility at play.
Even if you don’t listen to suggestions, keep them close. When you do your own revisions, go back and consider if you’ve addressed the raised concerns in a different way. It’s very fascinating to witness just how subjective this business is!