It has been a little while since I updated on my writing ventures, so here we go. I’ve been learning some interesting lessons recently as I’ve navigated this weird and wonderful writing world.
1. Go with the Flow
I am still sorely disappointed with my progress or lack thereof on The ManWhore Chronicles. I’ve jotted ideas, I’ve added a few scenes here and there, but I haven’t done any serious work on the novel in a few weeks.
The truth is, I’m still struggling to get all the writing I want to do done in my very limited time. There’s the book. There’s ideas for stories and essays that pop into my head almost every day. There’s this blog.
So I’m going with the flow. There’s a fine line between cutting yourself too much slack and giving yourself breathing room, but I think I’m finding it.
My short stories and other projects are not wasted time. They are making me a better writer. They are building my credentials as a published author, and when I DO finally finish the novel I’ll be very glad I have that in the bank. Most importantly, I’m enjoying the hell out of the process.
So rather than beat myself up over how slow the book is going, I’m giving myself “gentle nudges,” but also patting myself on the back for the projects I am finishing. I’ve learned that kicking myself too hard gets me down to the point where I just give up. And really, as long as I’m writing and getting better, what purpose would that serve?
So the motto these days is “go with the flow, as long as SOMETHING is flowing.”
2. Don’t Count Yourself Out
Early last spring, I submitted a short piece to a well-known publisher for one of their books. I hadn’t heard anything. It was something I had written with this as a “target publication,” and I really had no other plans for the piece. So with no burning desire to do anything else with it, I just chalked it up as a loss and moved on to the next thing.
A few weeks ago, I popped into the publisher’s web site and saw they were accepting submissions for a new theme. It dovetailed beautifully with an idea that had been stewing in my mind for a while, so I got to work on the piece. I wrote it over a weekend and then, since I had time before the submission deadline, set it aside for a few days. I like to put projects on the backburner after a first draft and then revisit them with fresh eyes when deadlines allow it.
I was excited about my new piece. I feel I’ve grown quite a bit as a writer in the months since I submitted something to the publisher the first time, and that the new piece reflects that growth. So I started the workweek feeling inspired and encouraged that I was getting back on the horse and trying this publisher again.
Midweek, I received an email from them. I was in the middle of a crazy meeting-filled workday, and my head was in a million places. When I saw their address and the subject header, I thought “wow, they’re writing back to me about the new piece already? That’s either really good or really bad …”
Then I gave myself a mental slap in the forehead. I hadn’t even SENT the new piece yet, so why would they be writing to me about it? Sometimes it takes my brain a little while to catch up with my life.
So I opened the message, and learned that the piece I’d submitted months and months ago was a finalist for the publication. I won’t know if it makes the final cut until sometime in the spring, but apparantly it has already managed to jump over several hurdles. I had already counted it out, because I am still learning the ins and outs of this process. Every other publisher I’d submitted things to around the same time had gotten back to me with a “no thanks” or an acceptance. So I just assumed too much time had passed and they were one of those that didn’t send out rejections.
I’d counted myself out, and I was still in the running. This one is just a marathon rather than a sprint.
I’ve had lots of other writerly things going on too. I’m working on a piece for a contest for a local literary magazine. I love the way it has turned out, and will take it places regardless of the contest outcome. It is in its “incubation” period and the deadline is the end of the month, so I’m doing my editing over this Thanksgiving break.
My short horror story will still be out soon in an upcoming anthology. Publishing was originally slated for early November and has been slightly delayed, but it should be out by Christmas. The editors have been wonderful about keeping in contact with the writers every step of the way, letting us know what to expect. From them I have learned wonderful lessons about how committed and professional editors deal with these types of situations so that authors don’t worry.
I’ve polished the second piece for the publisher my many-months-ago submission is a finalist for, and have sent it off.
Lots of irons in the fire. Two things I feel really need more attention are,
– The novel, but I’ve said that already.
– Revisiting some of my existing short stories that have not yet been published and were rejected by their “first try” markets. Some could probably just be sent to markets that are better fits “as is,” and others may benefit from some critiquing and/or reworking.
As far as this blog goes, I’ll be wrapping up “Finding Thankfulness” with one more post this coming Tuesday. Then we’ll move on to December and “Home for the Holidays,” a series of humorous Christmas memoirs with a dash of this and that thrown in for good measure.
Overall, I had lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as far as my writing goes. What about you? What are your top priorities at the moment? Any new successes to share? What projects need more of your attention? Do you follow my “go with the flow” approach when new projects sway you, or do your force yourself to stick with your original plan?