Well, This Sucks

So . . . shitty news. Specifically, on the writing front.

Turd the First: the publisher I submitted my novel to sent me a rejection letter last week. They were pretty awesome about it, made it clear that it probably wasn’t because I suck at what I do, but it was still a form-letter and it absolutely sucks.

I’m still hurting about this one. I wrote that novel specifically for this open call. I knew it was kind of a long shot, but still. I hoped.

Regardless, I’m not giving up on it. I’ll need some time to feel shitty about it, but then I plan on re-reading, revising if needed, and sending it somewhere else. Maybe some other publisher will be interested in it. I can’t say “it doesn’t hurt to try” because, actually, it does hurt, but I’m gonna try anyway.

Turd the Second: apparently Torquere LLC, the publisher that first told me “yes” and published my short story “Closer”, is going under. There has been a lot of talk over several months that’s made me uneasy, but I chose to have faith in the owners and editors. I decided to move forward with the contract I signed. It turns out that that was probably a mistake.

This makes me feel absolutely heartsick. I feel like I was taken advantage of, because I was so very, very new to the publishing world. This, combined with the rejection, has me wondering if my dream of being a writer is laughable. The idea of submitting my works to other publishers and finding out later that they’re untrustworthy is not only exhausting, it’s disheartening.

I don’t know what, exactly, my next move will be here. I’ve contacted someone in the industry with experience, and plan on reaching out to others. I’m going to try and get more information before deciding what my next move is. The only thing I know for sure, though, is that I won’t stop writing. I can’t. I’m simply not capable of it.

I might, however, take a bit of a break from it. Just for a little while. Maybe. More because I have a lot of other things going on in my life right now — upcoming holidays, the anniversary of Motherunit’s expiration, sorting out my health — than because of this whole debacle, but still. Putting pressure on myself to write when I’m overtaxed and my heart isn’t in it is a bad idea.

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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

It’s Official

I’m a writer. Not just in the sense of “this is who and what I am” but also in the sense that I HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED. There is a career trajectory, now.

Which. Exciting! But also scary. I haven’t heard back on the book, but I’ve had a piece of poetry published in ImageOutWrite Vol. 5, and a piece of my short fiction was just published by Torquere. The short story is part of the Harvest Moon anthology, and the cover is devastatingly pretty:
closer-cover

Getting here wasn’t easy. There were a lot of speed-bumps and obstacles along the way, and I know that this is just the beginning. I have to hope that my writing catches people’s attention, and that I can build a readership. I have to keep writing, even when my insecurities whisper that I can’t do this, that the publications I have only happened through luck, that I’m not actually that good. I have to keep telling the stories that make my heart sing, even when it would be easier to follow trends and convention.

But you know what? For right now, I’m just going to celebrate a little.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Writing Confession:

I have never, ever, not once in my life, written a second draft. I honestly do not understand the concept.

Looking through most writing guides, you hear over and over again that “good writing is rewriting” and that you should expect most of your first draft to be shit. That the second draft is where you fix plot holes, cut out unnecessary scenes or chapters, where you fix problems with your structure and add more to the parts that are lacking. It is, supposedly, where you do “the real work” and where your piece of fiction or poetry becomes more authentically you.

And, uh. I’m looking around thinking, You people don’t this on the first go-round?

Because here is the thing: by the time I sit down and start writing a story, I already know what kind of story I want to tell. I know what I want to make my readers feel. I know what structure I will use to achieve that, because I’m all about letting form follow function. Certain stories have more impact when told in a non-linear fashion, where other stories benefit from the crisp minimalism provided by drabble sets. Other stories are better told in past or present tense. Depending on what kind of story I’m telling, on who the characters are and what the primary conflict is, I might write from one character’s perspective, or two, or even head-hop. But I know all of this before I set the first word on the page.

Because by the time I sit down to write a story, I have pages upon pages of notes. I have notes about character backstories and world-building. I have a plot outline. I have a timeline to refer to, if the story is taking place over a number of days (or even weeks, or months) and the passage of time is important in the story. I have answered questions about potential plot holes. I have presented the basic idea to my writing friends, and then answered their questions in my pages of notes. I have usually brainstormed three different endings, and made notes about how each will play out and what it would mean to the story as a whole.

I take days to create an entire world inside my head before I set my fingers to my keyboard and start setting it free. I re-write as I go — I might change a particular sentence or paragraph five times before I move on. I go back and re-read, adjust word choices and tweak dialogue and cut sentences when I’m still in the middle of the project. I am ruthless as I write. Description is kept to a minimum — if it’s not important to the character whose head I’m writing from, then it doesn’t need to be there. Every interaction and scene has to serve at least two of the following purposes: 1) furthering the plot/ developing the primary conflict; 2) development of one or more characters in the scene; 3) exposition; and 4) drawing connections between cause and effect, past events in the story and the present moment, and/or between characters. Ideally, it should be doing all four.

So maybe the real reason I have never written a second draft is that, really, I’ve never written a first one.
~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

Commentary on “Writing Advice”

Most of the writing advice I see coming from the so-called experts or prolific writers makes me so mad I could breathe fire. It’s things like, “a writer writes”, “you have to write every day”, “there’s no such thing as writer’s block”, “it’s all about butt-in-chair dedication”, “don’t ever look back on the earlier stages of what you’ve written, just keep moving forward” etc. And what all of these pieces of advice have in common is that they are trying to tell other people what their creative process should look like.

Newsflash: it doesn’t work that way.

I’ve talked to a lot of writers about their processes. And what I have found is that no two of them are alike, because no two people are exactly alike. One writer I know is able to produce two thousand words per day, every day, which is tremendously productive and also highly intimidating. Another writer I know writes long-hand, in a notebook, and types her stories out afterward. Another writer I know is able to write in coffee shops, secluded corners, libraries, you name it. One writer lets the story run away with them, while another has to plot everything out carefully, in another document. The method and process that produces a particular writer’s best work will vary by the person, which makes trying to give generalized advice to aspiring authors useless. More than that, it can be incredibly discouraging.

Because you know what else a lot of this advice doesn’t take into account? That not everyone is perfectly healthy in mind and body. One writer I know has bouts of crippling anxiety over words—and not just in fiction, but in emails and informal communication. Another writer lives in chronic pain, and sometimes that pain is so bad that they cannot write, or go to work, or even get out of bed. And then there’s me. If I have a PTSD event, it can take a couple of days for my brain to settle and go back to functioning as close to normal as it’s capable of, and I don’t have the focus or emotional resources to write during that time.

And that isn’t my fault, or something I should be shamed for. Writing is individual, like every other art. Sure, you can go to school for it—but that doesn’t automatically make you good. Just like practising and self-teaching doesn’t automatically make you bad or inferior to someone who got the formal education. Every writer will have a unique method or combination of them for getting their best stories out—because it’s not really about how fast you write or how many words you get out in a day. It’s about the quality of the story you’re telling.
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

Fiction: What it’s Worth

Mermaid scales were easy. It was the matter of a moment to brush a few from my tail and tip them into your cupped palm. The herbs I left you to gather. The land is your home, and you’ve known magic since before you drew breath. I knew you’d find what you needed.

The other things, though. The ones I promised to get for you, those I left to retrieve with the promise to be back in time. The full moon was just two days’ away, and the spell needed the right amount of moonlight to work. I flicked water at you and told you to have a little faith in me.

I did not tell you I feared that I would fail. Didn’t tell you that I had to make promises to the squid in exchange for his ink, or that I was afraid of the ghosts in the shipwreck I searched to find you the finger bone of a drowned sailor. I did not tell you that I fought with my sister, because she did not believe any human was worth the palmful of sand from the ocean floor I gathered for you. I didn’t tell you of the hours it took to find the grumpy old crab a new shell before he would let me have his old one.

I did not tell you any of these things, because the moment you shed your dress on the beach after completing the potion to lie beside me in the wet sand as the magic took hold and fashioned you a tail was worth it. Being able to kiss you under the waves and have your breathlessness be from my lips and not the need for air was worth it. Being able to show you the world I grew up in, with all its dark, dangerous beauty and bright colours and happy memories was worth it. I would have paid that and more to be able to look down at you, sleeping peacefully in my arms and know that I can sleep, too, and that we will both still be here when we wake.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

PSA:

If your cookware says “non-stick” on it, that isn’t a challenge.

If you treat it as a challenge, you are being an asshole to your cookware, who never did anything to deserve being ruined, and also to the person who washes your dishes, who just might do something to you. You will have it coming if they do.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Confession #83:

I don’t like chess. I learned how to play as a child, and played a lot for a couple of years, but other people ruined it for me. Chess—for whatever reason—was seen as THE measuring stick for intelligence, and I was a baby genius, so the assumption was that I’d be an amazing chess player. Truth is, I was and am a decent player, but it’s not hard to be better than me. I’m a reactionary player. In my family, Fatherbot and Will are the chess whizzes, the ones with the heads for strategy, and I’ll always play a game with them if they ask, because I know I can count on them to not be dicks about it. I’ve never had an issue with losing a game to someone—my problem was when my opponent rubbed my face in my loss, mocking me, deriding my intelligence, and screaming across the playground and/or classroom to get the other kids (and sometimes the teacher) to join them in shitting on me. My other problem was in winning against anyone who wasn’t in my family or my babysitter—because if I won, I was a stuck-up bitch who thought she was better than everyone else. You can see how that would be shitty for an eight-year-old.

Chess is, first and last, a GAME. It’s supposed to be fun. But when losing came with a serving of three days’ bullying, and winning brought on mass cold-shouldering, it quickly lost its appeal.
~
I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.