Writing on the Beach: Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post #2

Hey all!

It’s been an interesting year. I don’t know if I can say whirlwind, but this year has had a lot more changes than I anticipated. Which have ended up as a good thing for me. But the one thing that stays the same is that I am a writer and can never stop being one.

That said, on to this month’s post.:

December 6 question – As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

Quick review of this year:

  • First place in poetry contest
  • Different poem published in anthology
  • Short story published
  • Revised for, and tried out for, Pitch Wars
  • More (pretty good) progress on queries

I think I did pretty well!

I don’t have any regrets, actually. The one thing I always wish I had done more was actual writing/drafting/idea chasing. Coming out in the green this year is okay with me.

The one lesson I did learn life-wise is that if something is taking me away from writing… it’s probably not a good thing to have in my life!!!! And that is a lesson I will continue to take to heart.

This lesson may not apply to everyone, but it does apply to me!

Many thanks to IWSG for the prompt and the support! Find some other writers in the group through the Linky Tools link below:

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Writer on the Beach: Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post #1

Oh! At the suggestion of a critique group mate, I’m trying out this blog hop thing.

Thanks to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group for hosting this! It’s nice to have someone else choose a topic once in a while!

Today’s question: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

For me, that is a big fat no! And I have zero shame. I found out about NaNoWriMo maybe fifteen or more years ago? I always, always had a plan when I tried it in subsequent years. But I never could get past a day or two, despite all my planning and preparing, downloading guides, creating spreadsheets to track my word count, connecting with other writers on the forums, &c…

I have come to accept this part of my writer self. I can’t let writing have too much pressure attached to it. The work needs to come as it does, and as I want it. Mostly because my process takes a lot of time, and turning down the wrong pathway can truly lead a story astray. (My brain tosses in some great–though not plot-supportive–twists.)

So, I’ve never won NaNoWriMo, technically. But I have written about four novels? (And about six versions of one of those!) I’ll take it.

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Writing on the Beach: To the grindstone…

Well! After writing about my low motivation level, I started to get into a totally different writing project. It’s very slow going, but I’m learning a lot about–get this–what I’ve learned as a writer.

I am definitely pantsing more since this is a first draft, but I’m also remaining aware of giving myself time and space. There have been quite a few moments when a twist came up and surprised me. But while those twists were intriguing, I realized they didn’t quite have a place in the narrative–something it took me at least a day or two to figure out. Then, it was time to swipe out some darlings.

I used to create line art this way. Years back, when I did more drawing and carried a handy sketchbook around, I used to take days or even more than a week to finish one piece of line art. The slow process frustrated me: going back to erase and redo the curve of a single line again and again.

But at the end of those excursions, I’d come out with a fairly decent piece of line art.

Going through these steps for starting a novel again really reminds me of that process. It’s kind of nice, because I’ll use what I’ve written in pantsing mode and immediately switch to planning mode to be more analytical and critical. Doing this will help immensely as I shape this plot (with hopefully less of a revision/rewriting ratio than my other novels!).

Writing on the Beach: Facing the block…

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!

 

Publication on the Beach: Intersections Anthology, presented by ZZyZx WriterZ

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!)

Submitting on the Beach: Practice Makes Practice

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… =)

Writing on the Beach: Moving forward…

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!

Writing on the Beach: Surprises While Writing from the Heart

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.)

Writing on the Beach: Pitch Wars 2017

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.

 

 

On to publication, calmly.