Be A Writer They Said…

Hello, hello! Welcome to September. I suppose Thanksgiving and Christmas are some time next week with how fast time is moving. Before you know it, this year will be over and we’ll get to see what 2021 decides to throw at us. My hopes aren’t very high. But I’ve been in a blah mood anyway, so maybe I’m wrong and next year will be great. I’m in one of my burned out periods again. I haven’t worked on the novel in a while, so that’s not getting done this month. Oh well. I just pushed myself too hard too fast. Anyway, being a writer is exhausting. I thought I’d take this post as a chance to whine a bit. Sorry in advance.

Maybe, but maybe not.

And it’s true. Being a writer can be fun. Telling stories and reading and gathering with fellow writers to discuss writerly things can be amazing. But no one ever tells you that being a writer is so much more than writing. It’s the one thing I was disappointed about when it came to my MFA program: they glossed over everything included in being a professional writer that wasn’t writing or editing. I get it, it’s a writing program, but it would’ve been nice to be a little prepared for everything else. That one lecture on contracts and being told in our graduation semester that we needed to make a website didn’t quite cut it. I’m slowly figuring things out, though.

That website they randomly told me I had to make for my graduation semester? I had to design it myself because what beginning writer can afford a web designer? It has to be maintained and updated. And in order to make a website, you have to have content. Like a blog that you update weekly. And contact information. You can’t be a new anything nowadays without a social media presence. Those social media profiles need attention and updates just about every day if you want to keep your followers. It’s not exactly hard work, but all of this stuff takes up time. And if you’re popular and have tons of comments and emails to respond to, it could potentially get overwhelming. Sure, there are people you can hire for all that, but it costs money.

Yes, it can.

That’s not all. You also have to be an editor to your own work, a critic who can pull apart everyone else’s work and see what’s working and what isn’t, and a diligent student constantly improving their craft. After that, you have to sell your work and yourself to agents and publishers and readers alike. People have to like you to want to work with you, right? This usually entails submitting and querying lots of people who each have slightly different guidelines that you have to adhere to and getting told no by most of them. Then, if you’re lucky enough to make a deal, you have to pull on your lawyer pants and review every aspect of the contract to make sure everyone involved is getting a fair deal. It’s terrifying and exhausting and no one seems to want to talk about it all.

I know.

And to top it all off, there’s always someone pointing out that you should be actually writing, like everything else involved in being a writer doesn’t count as work. It’s enough to put anyone off writing for a while. But then you get the rare acceptance or encouraging note from a complete stranger or something like that and it’s all worth it again. So yeah, being a writer is exhausting and sometimes it’s fun, but it’s so much more than just writing. Be warned, then become a writer. It’ll be fun.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or questions or comments here or on my social media pages!

September Is Coming

 Hello, hello!  August is coming to a close, bringing the beginning of September with it.  I’ve been having trouble finding the motivation to keep up with my work, despite my current novel attempt being enjoyable, so I thought I would post my main goals for the coming month right here.  I find it more difficult to avoid the things I need to do once someone else knows what my goals are.  The potential for public shame is an awesome motivator.  Plus, I know I have a few friends who will crack the whip at me if they know I should be doing things and they catch me on Facebook instead.

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Whips and pleather can be motivational too, I guess.

Goal 1: write 18,000+ words.  I know I’m capable of writing 4,500 words a week and September is about four weeks long, so I should at least be writing this much.  Only words toward the WIP, short stories/flash pieces, and the blog count towards this number.  And only words over my current written words, not revisions.  It’s the goal I’ve been struggling with the most, so if I’m slacking, feel free to break out the whip.

Goal 2: read at least 2 books.  One book will be for my review on the 27th, and the second will be for a book club I just joined.  I’m also currently reading a book with my writing group, but we’re taking it slow, so I might not finish it by the end of the month.  I admit that I don’t read nearly enough, so I’m trying to change that.  I was able to read 2 books a month at Stonecoast and keep up with my writing, so it seems like a reasonable thing to do.

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That’s what they keep telling me, anyway.

Goal 3: query 16 more agents.  I’ve been querying four a week for what seems like forever now.  No, I really have no clue how or why I settled on the number four.  But I do know that I’ve currently sent out 84 queries and have no idea how many rejections/assumed rejections (because some agencies don’t send out rejections, but give you a “if you haven’t heard back in x weeks we’re passing” instead) I’ve gathered up and I don’t feel like checking my spreadsheet right now.  It’s a numbers game, I’m told, and I’ll keep trying for a while longer.  But I’m thinking 100 sounds like a good place to take a break and regroup and wait to see what happens with the queries still in limbo.

Goal 4: submit at least one thing to my critique group.  The group seemed to go on hiatus for the past couple of months as our members used the summer for some much needed family time.  But now that school has started, critique submissions are starting to trickle in and I want to be among them.

Goal 5: make time to text/message some people besides the usual two or three.  Because I’ve been a shitty friend and I know that.  I promise I’ll try to be better, but I usually fail miserably at this type of stuff too.

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And I don’t even talk to them much.

So, those are my September goals.  It feels a little overwhelming to see them written out like this, but I can do it.  And if I can’t, you get to publicly shame me!  What about you?  What are your main goals for the month?  Feel free to share them here or on my social media pages!

See you next week!

When In Doubt…

Hello, hello!  I thought I’d share a little update on the agent search saga.  I received a rejection from the agent who requested a full copy of my manuscript.  It was the first rejection that I couldn’t attribute to slush reader denial, and I admit it threw me a bit, emotionally.  They loved Bailey (the main character), but they suggested reworking it into a non-fantasy book because they felt my writing was strongest in the non-fantastical parts.  I panicked.  How was I supposed to rewrite this particular story without fantasy and keep it from turning into a memoir or something similar (there’s too much of my younger self in Bailey to keep her in the realm of literary fiction even if I managed to peel the fantastical parts away)?  I’ve always been against crossing into CNF, especially when it involves elements of my own life (I’m not that interesting, I swear).  I have nothing against people who want to write that type of stuff, but it’s just not who I am.  So, I let myself be overcome by doubt for a couple of days.

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Me normally?  Kyoya.  Me on rejection day?  The twins.  I will never be Tamaki, though.

It’s been a long time since I’ve received a critique (no matter how small) from someone who held my inner writer’s fragile little ego in their hands and had the ability to crush it.  I love my critique group dearly, but I know they’ll give honest feedback in a friendly manner.  When I was in school, I actually liked the people who were brutal with their feedback.  I welcomed it.  But over the past couple of years, I kind of forgot that a critique is just someone else’s opinions, whether that someone is a friend or a teacher or an agent or whoever.  It’s simply one person’s opinion.  Yeah, it’s harder to hear some people’s thoughts than others, but the story is still mine.  I can’t help but feel like I’ve gotten a little weak for forgetting that.

For a couple of days after I received the rejection, I stopped working on my current WIP (the second book in the series).  What was the point if I was just going to have to change the first book completely?  Then, I remembered something my mentor for my thesis semester (Elizabeth Hand) wrote in my evaluation.  She basically said that I was always extremely open to suggestions for edits and revisions, but that I had zero qualms about saying no to things because I knew what was best for my story.  That was when I started working on my WIP again.  This series started as litfic and went nowhere.  It wasn’t until someone suggested I write it as the kind of stuff I actually enjoyed reading that it started moving forward on its own.  I just can’t abandon that story yet.

How+About+No
My usual reaction when I come across suggestions that don’t fit my stories.

Sometimes, we all need a little reminder that we’re the creator of the worlds we write about.  We choose which suggestions and comments to implement and which ones to ignore.  That’s our decision to make as writers.  I know it’s hard to ignore some people’s critiques, especially when they’ve been in the business a lot longer than you and when they’re successful and you’re just getting started.  Be open to suggestions, but don’t be afraid to say no if it doesn’t feel right.  You know what’s best for your stories.

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No matter how hard it is.

So yeah, when in doubt, trust yourself.  I’m going to try to remember this as future rejections roll in.  I can’t promise I won’t temporarily panic, but I’ll get over it given time.  If you’re in a similar situation, you’ll be okay too.  Let yourself freak out a little if that’s your thing (I, personally, prefer to avoid that step), but then remember that you know what you’re doing.  We will succeed… eventually.