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.

 

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.

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.

Anatomy of a Bullshit Sandwich

Top bun: rational-seeming argument

Lettuce: claiming familial/friendship/romantic ties

Cheese: crocodile tears

Meat: HEINOUS FUCKING BULLSHIT

Bottom bun: supposed sincerity

~

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.

 

The Thing About Anxiety

The thing about anxiety is that it lies to us. Sometimes those lies are rooted in truth, and sometimes they are blatant fabrications, but when you have anxiety, you can’t tell which is which. When it comes after you, it all feels real. Undeniable.

A short example of the pretzel logic anxiety uses to attack its victims: So, that job interview you have coming up. It’s a big deal. Have you figured out what you’re going to wear? You know how important a first impression is, and you only get one chance to do this right. You have to be professional, but you — only, no. Don’t be you. If you decide to be “you”, you’ll fuck it up for sure. But, then again, it’s a long shot you’ll get this job anyway. It was only luck they’re asking for an interview. It’s ridiculous, thinking that you’re capable enough to do this job, and the interviewer is gonna pick up on that right away. Why even do this to yourself? Why set yourself up to fail? You know this isn’t gonna work out. You might as well quit while you’re ahead.

There are certain times when it’s normal to experience anxiety — a new job, graduating, having to move. Big changes and periods of transition, where there is a lack of certainty, those are common times to be a little anxious.

But anxiety about smaller things like government paperwork, and needing to set foot outside the house today, those are above and beyond normal levels. And it’s really hard to try and talk about that kind of anxiety. Because, sometimes, anxiety is rooted in specific events — a hate crime, bad experience, trauma — or tied to specific triggers. But other times, there is no reason — there’s no cause you can point to, there’s just the anxiety trying to cripple you for no reason at all.

But how do you explain that? Worse, how can you expect other people to understand, to help you, if you can’t explain?

~

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.

 

*Blinks*

I, uh. I’ve talked before, about how I’m a writer — that it’s as much who I am as it is what I do. But stopping to look over what I’ve accomplished as a writer over the last few months . . . I’ve kind of amazed myself.

Because, okay, I wrote a novel. Not a huge one, but still — a whole book. In 14 weeks. I mean, if we subtract the 4-and-a-bit-week break I took about halfway through, then really, I wrote an entire novel in 9.5 weeks. (The ensuing carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming less and less mysterious in origin.)

But, completely aside from that? I looked at my writing journal, and I realized that, uh. I’m kind of a prolific motherfucker. Because, since 2016 began, I’ve written 53, 000-and-change words of novel in addition to 30, 000 words of various fanfiction projects — 10, 000 of which were produced at the same time I was writing the novel — and 1, 500 words of original fiction (one piece was flash fiction, and the other is my current project, and about a quarter of the way to finished).

That means that I have written eighty-five thousand words (!!!!!) of fiction in the last five months.

And that’s just fiction. That’s not even counting the poetry I’ve written (long-hand in various notebooks), my personal journal, or my blog posts. I’d be afraid to guess at how much all the longhand adds up to, but the blog posts alone come out to a tidy 7, 300 words.  And, since 85 + 7.3 = 92.3, it’s more than safe to say that I’ve tossed out upwards of a hundred thousand words, and we’re not even halfway through the year yet.

I’m sitting here looking at the numbers, and I’m having a Does Not Compute moment. I want to ask myself “The ffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuck?” because even I have no idea how I did this. Seriously. Pick a random day on a calendar and I can tell you how much I wrote, and will tell how frustrated I got with writing, or that project, or the interruptions I dealt with, and how much more I set out to accomplish that day. I’m not anything like a fast writer–I can put a few hundred words on a page in an hour normally, and manage something a little more than a thousand words on a good day. Never mind the days where I don’t write at all — due to exhaustion, writer’s block, my body and/or brain having a Fuck You day, or simple busyness.

Just. I probably write two days out of every three. I also ate, slept, read entire novels, emailed and visited with friends, and attended weekly appointments with my healthcare team. But all of ^that^ still happened. So, like.

Holy shitnuggets with fucksauce, self. What drugs were you on?

~

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.