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What Happens Next (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, y’all!

If you’re reading this, I do assume that you’re already familiar with the IWSG, but if you’re new and/or interested in more information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month’s awesome co-hosts are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G. Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

This month’s (optional) question is…

Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

I’m going to attempt to answer this question, but me being me, I’m probably going to attempt it in some weird, roundabout way that may or may not actually answer the question. And me being me four days into November, and those four days being in November 2020, this weird, roundabout way may end up being even weirder and more roundabout than usual (And may or may not involve more vodka…) If you choose to keep reading, I hope that (wherever this ramble ends up), you enjoy the ride.

So, it’s been mentioned a few million times on various social media sites, I know, but in case you maybe missed it, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month. It’s the ninth time I’ve participated in the November event. Thus far, I have six wins and two losses under my belt, but win or lose, I love the challenge. Which is why I pretty much sign up for every session I possibly can.

My first NaNoWriMo experience was back in 2009, when I wrote the first draft of what would eventually come to be known as the Terrible Romance Novel. When November 1st came around, I didn’t have a plan in place. I didn’t have character charts or a storyboard or a scene list or anything. I just thought, “Hey, I wonder if I can write a romance novel” and set out to see what would happen. (And with a name like ‘Terrible Romance Novel’ you can probably guess what happened…)

On November 2nd of that year, I sat in front of my computer, looking at the monitor and thinking, “WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO?” because I was working without a safety net, or a parachute, or any sort of metaphorical rock-climbing gear designed to keep me from plunging into the rocky gorge of failure or whatever (Seriously, y’all. Day Four + Insomnia + 2020 + Vodka + Well, you know = rocky gorge of failure or whatever).

I got through those thirty days by just constantly asking myself, “What happens next?” And when I had no what what (what what? Thanks, brain.) happened next, I asked myself, “Okay, what could happen next?” Because I didn’t know and there was only one way I would find out.

By writing it. (I knew I made a mistake not being clairvoyant or whatever. My brain is so good at the words-putting-into-sentence-doing thingy thing.)

This November, I am working on the Terrible Romance Sequel (I’m sooooo good at naming books, I know). I am currently crushing the word count (as of the moment I wrote this sentence, I am sitting at a whopping 14,006 words) and—even stranger still—I am enjoying the hell out of discovering this story.

Sure, the plot is…extremely problematic (to put it mildly) and I seem to have made it pretty damn impossible for my main characters to have any sort of romance (the Terrible Romance series is aptly named), and my daily word counts are dwindling drastically because of the aforementioned problematic plot and romanceless romance, and I will very likely not write another word the entire damn month AND have to throw out the whole damn thing on December 1st and start all over again.

And I’ll do it. Maybe not right away, but I’ll do it. Because I want to know what will happen.

I don’t know if anyone else wants to know what will happen (and I don’t see why they would) but that’s cool. I want to know, and that’s enough.

So yeah…I don’t have lofty aspirations when I write. I write what I write because I have an idea and I honestly just want see how it’ll turn out.

If it’ll turn out.

It may not.

But, you know, I won’t know until I try. (Once again, I say SUCK IT, YODA.)

So, for now…You know what? I honestly have no idea if I answered the question or not, or got even close to an answer. But my brain is completely fried at this particular moment in time, and I am done in every way possible. So instead of me trying to make this post work, please enjoy this adorable photo of my adorable little Snoop Dogg practicing his favorite yoga pose—downward sleeping dog.

On that note, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by, all. I’ll try to do better the next time…

Stay safe and well.

Writer At Work (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

(As always, I’m assuming that if you’re here, reading this blog, you’re already familiar with the IWSG, but if you’re new and on the prowl for more information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month’s awesome co-hosts are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “When you think of the term ‘working writer’, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist? If the latter two, what does that look like?”

In theory, I am a working writer. And I’m fortunate to be a working writer who doesn’t have a day job of any kind. At least not one that, you know, earns me any money. Not that writing earns me any money, either, because, you know, it doesn’t. My last royalty payment earned this reaction:

(Apparently, if one wants to sell books, one has to actually tell people said books exist. Which, just…ugh. I don’t like that.)

But yeah. I’m a working writer. And for me, that pretty much looks like an anxiety-ridden basket case constantly on the verge of a full-blown breakdown because she knows she’s not doing enough. Not writing enough, not publishing enough, not marketing enough, not anything enough. (Though, to be fair, I’m not convinced I would ever think any amount of writing/publishing/marketing/anything would be enough. Anxiety is my co-pilot!)

I don’t know what being a working writer is supposed to look like. (Not the way I do it, from what I hear. Which is true. If your goal is to make money from writing, you really don’t want to follow my business plan.)

I imagine it’s one of those things that will vary from one writer to the next, depending upon that particular writer’s particular goals.

And my goal, as has been stated in a lot of these posts lately, is to just do my own thing and don’t care if anyone else likes it.

(Sorry, y’all…this is apparently my new favorite gif.)

And on that note, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll try to do better the next time.

Stay safe and well, all.

Kill Your Darlings (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

(If you’re new to the IWSG and looking for additional information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link…)

This month’s awesome co-hosts are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise-Fundy Blue.

This month’s (optional) question asks, “If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?”

But I’m going to skip the question to instead ramble on about…well, killing our darlings. Or, you know, killing my darlings anyway. You can kill your own darlings.

This year is, strangely, the first year in…well, ever, that I’ve even come close to following the writing schedule I set for myself at the beginning of the year. Meaning, during which months I would work on what WIPs and when those WIPs would be finished and so on and so forth. It’s loosely sketched out in January and traditionally has fallen apart by March. It is then endlessly revised throughout the rest of the year to reflect my actual progress (or lack thereof…) on each project.

But this year I haven’t had to revise that much (and even managed to publish a book), which means that over the next two months, my main writing focus will be on finishing the first draft of Full Circle (aka, Book Three in my fantasy series).

What I have had to revise, however, is my confidence in my ability to actually do this. For a while, it seemed as though I was getting closer to the end, but now I’m kind of…stuck toward the end of the second act. And the more time I spend staring at my computer monitor and/or storyboard, the more I fear I may have to do the unthinkable…

Kill my darlings.

I do assume that anyone reading this post is familiar with this concept, but in the event that it’s new to you, killing your darlings is when writers cut things they love from their manuscripts. It could be a beloved character, a plot line, a snarky dialogue exchange, some quirk you bestowed upon a character that’s now causing more problems than it’s worth, whatever. It’s stuff that we, as writers, love and cling to and try everything we can think of to make it work in our WIPs because we don’t want to get rid of it.

In my case, it’s most often dialogue (you know it’s not killing characters. I love to kill characters.). I love writing dialogue and will occasionally (translation: always) get carried away when writing it. Then it occasionally (translation: always) takes me a few rounds of revisions to accept the fact that maybe—just maybe—my characters don’t need to have a five-paged conversation about goats when goats serve absolutely no purpose in the story whatsoever.

(Side note: some of you know why I’m mentioning goats here, and to those of you I say…THAT STUPID CONVERSATION IS STILL IN THIS STUPID WIP.)

But until I reach/accept that realization, I will copy and paste that conversation (Other conversations. Not the goat conversation. That stupid conversation is apparently here to stay.) in every damn scene I can, trying to find the place where it fits. Even if it doesn’t fit anywhere.

Which is, sadly, what I think is happening here.

I don’t think I’m going to make it to the revision phase. This time, I think those darlings are going to have to go before the revision phase because I’m just not getting anywhere.

Despite all my plotting, this WIP has taken a few turns that has made some storylines obsolete. It happens, and I know it’s going to happen, but I guess I am just stubborn enough to think I can out-stubborn my characters (ha.) and that they will relent and just do what I want how I want and say what I want while doing it.

(Spoiler alert: they won’t.)

So that’s where I’m at right now. Torn between wanting to achieve a goal and wanting to cling to the last remnants of gone-but-not-forgotten storylines.

Which will win?

Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll try to do better the next time.

Stay safe out there.

Do Your Thing And Don’t Care If They Like It (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

(If you’re new to the IWSG and/or are looking for more information, including a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month’s awesome co-hosts are Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

But I’m taking a pass on the question today because I’m pleased to be participating in a bloghop celebrating the release of a brand-new book from which any struggling writer could benefit. It’s really perfect for the IWSG, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a super fan of its author, Chrys Fey.

But before we get into the details of the book itself (or if you’d rather not wait, just scroll down a little…), we were asked to share our own stories and struggles with writer’s block and/or depression and/or burnout and what we did or are currently doing to heal.

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this post since I signed up to participate. Me talking about my feelings in any sort of detail always leads me to feel worse about myself than I already do. And when you feel awful about yourself every minute of every day anyway, you’re never that eager to add to that.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I admire the hell out of Chrys (seriously, y’all, she’s a rock star), so I wanted to try. (Yes, there is such a thing as try, Yoda. Suck it.)

It’s no secret that I have been in a funk for…a good long time now. I don’t even know when it started. It’s been so long that it feels like it’s always been this way. And maybe it has. Again, I don’t know. I do know things got worse last year (I’m not going into the reasons why), which was a surprise because I honestly didn’t think I could feel worse about myself than I already did.

So…good for me, I guess? My ability for self-loathing is limitless! Woo Hoo! High five!

But however it happened, I have yet to find a way to right the ship or turn it around or…stop the ship from sinking, or whatever boat-themed metaphor you prefer.

And neither can I say that I’m doing any dealing or healing because ‘dealing’ and ‘healing’ implies action, and I’m certainly not doing anything active. What I’m doing is more…living with it. Like the lizard that’s currently living in my pantry. And the one in my bookshelves. Not to mention the mailbox.

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE living in the tenth circle of hell Florida?

For me, living with it boils down to one simple philosophy that I have mentioned on this blog many times before…

DO YOUR THING AND DON’T CARE IF THEY LIKE IT.

This is a quote attributed to my good friend, Tina Fey (note: the phrase ‘good friend’ may be a slight exaggeration, as we’ve never actually met), and I repeat to myself a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Some days, it’s far easier to do than others, but it’s a good mantra for me to have. And some days, it’s the only way I get anything written.

In this industry, I often hear that I’m doing it wrong, or that I need to do X, Y, or Z instead, and that I don’t really belong here. Which are all things that are probably true, and some days, it’s easier to shrug off that shit than others.

But here’s the thing: I have to do this writing thing on my terms. I have to do the publishing thing on my terms. Even if it means I don’t do it at all. And if my terms don’t conform with someone else’s vision of things, then…too bad.

I’m here, I’m obstinate as hell, and they’re just going to have to deal with it.

But if you are currently living with writer’s block, depression, or burnout, or some kind of combination of the above, it’s well worth checking out Chrys’s book. (How’s that for a segue, huh?) I was privileged enough to read an early copy of it, and I think someone would have to work really hard to not find something within those pages to help them out.

Which leads us to…

THE PART WITH THE BOOK DETAILS

Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer’s Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

·        Writer’s block

·        Depression

·        Writer’s burnout

·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed

·        Finding creativity boosts

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love—writing.

BOOK LINKS:

Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.

Not Very Deep Thoughts With M.J. Fifield (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, y’all!

This month’s awesome co-hosts are: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?”

But I’m going to skip that question because I feel like I’m too much of an industry imposter-type person to have an opinion on that.

Instead you’re going to get this…whatever this turns out to be. I’m honestly not sure what will come from this post. Maybe nothing. Maybe I’ll get bored and/or tired and/or worried partway through and delete it, like I did last month’s post. Or maybe I’ll come up with something I’m willing to share. Stranger things have happened. Somewhere. Probably. I assume. (Name! That! Reference!)

Anyway…let’s find out which one it will be, shall we?

So, a while back (probably around May 8th), I came across the following tweet and it’s been floating around in my mind ever since.

According to the above tweet, over 80% of published authors stop after three books. I don’t know if the stats went any deeper than that. (If I recall correctly, the attached article didn’t specify.) Like, 80% of all authors? Does genre matter? Do romance authors, for example, last longer than literary fiction authors or mystery authors? Do authors who publish works in multiple genres have a higher rate of longevity? Or do they maybe burn out faster because they’re trying to do too much?

Is burnout even the problem? What percentage stop because of burnout or a burnout-like experience? How many stopped because they were dropped by a publisher and/or agent (for whatever reason) and couldn’t secure new ones? How many stopped because they got into the industry, looked around, and said, “Yeah, this sucks” and got back out again? How many stopped because they simply had no more stories they wanted to write?

Now, if you happened to read my most recent post, you’ll know that I am maybe kind of sort of possibly getting closer to maybe publishing my third book. And I keep wondering if maybe this third book (should it manage to see the light of day) will be my last.

(Side Note: Yeah, I know these stats apply to traditionally published authors and not the self-published variety. Didn’t make me think about them any less.)

I’m only on my third book and have only managed to publish two titles, but I find it increasingly difficult. Not, like, physically difficult or anything, but more…I don’t know. The more I do it (publishing, I mean), the less I know if I want to keep doing it.

Of course, I said the same thing before, during, and after publishing my first two books, so make of it what you will.

(Side Note: I don’t believe this has anything to do with my decision to self-publish. That was the right choice for me. Is the right choice for me. I also firmly believe that if I had gone the traditional route back when I had the chance, I probably wouldn’t have gotten past my first book. (Side Side Note: Not every publishing path is right for every author! Do the research and decide which is right for you! No one gets to decide what is right for you but YOU!) All of my publishing-related issues stem from anxiety, a multiplude of complexes, and probably too much Dr. Pepper…)

I imagine I will always have more stories I want to write. There was a time, while I was working on Effigy that I worried about whether I would ever have any other story ideas. I thought maybe I would write that one series and then just be done with writing altogether.

I don’t think that anymore. Given how long it takes me to write/finish a novel, I’m sure I have story ideas enough to last the rest of my life and probably quite a few years as a ghost. I cannot guarantee, however, I will always have more stories I want to publish.

I work toward publishing each project to keep my options open, but I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go until I actually hit that big red “PUBLISH ME” button.

And…I don’t know. I guess that’s it. I thought I might stumble across some sort of point that would tie things up in a neat-ish little bow, but that didn’t seem to happen here.

Let me just say that if you’ve published three, six, twelve or more books, you’re a rock star. If you’re working toward publishing your first—or even just starting writing your first—book, you’re a rock star.

It’s a hard industry. Hang in there.