Tag Archives: crazy

I’m back!

Excuse me while I clear the dust off my corner of the blog.

Let’s see, wow, the past few months have been interesting–and I mean that in good and bad ways.  I’ve gone from incredible writing-related high points, ones that involved much squeeing and shouting and oh-my-god-this-can’t-be-happening-to-me-ing…to really dismal times of trying to get through one of the worst tax seasons ever and learning how to handle being a caregiver at the same time.  Stress management has become something I pay more attention to than I ever have before in my life.

I’m going to dwell mostly on the good stuff, though, because I have things I’ve been dying to talk about, and because there are other things I’m just not able to talk about on the blog.  I don’t have the mental fortitude for it right now, and more importantly, much of the information isn’t mine to share.  Suffice to say, I have reason to feel very optimistic about the future, and while I won’t say the bad stuff is over, because I don’t want to tempt the universe, I will say that I am hopeful.

But, on to the good stuff.  You know how people say that in publishing, you can never get in a hurry?  You finally land an agent, and you come down from that euphoria to realize it’s only the beginning of a long process.  You still have to *fingers crossed* sell the book, edit and revise and edit and revise some more, and even after that, your book might not come out for a long time.  Publishing moves at a glacial pace–it’s just something you have to learn to deal with as you navigate the business side of writing.  You’ve heard all this, yes?  Well, all of this is absolutely true 99% of the time.

But occasionally, you encounter the other 1%.

My amazing agent, Sara Megibow, went on submission with my book not too long after we finished ringing in 2013.  Beyond the occasional update, I was prepared not to hear any news until tax season was winding down.  So I was shocked when an email landed in my inbox just days later.  We had an offer.

After that, everything turned into a whirlwind, but when the excitement finally died down, I’d signed a tw0 book deal with Delacorte Press for The Mark of the Dragonfly.  Suddenly, I had an agent and an editor, both of whom expressed such excitement and love for the book–I can’t adequately explain how that makes me feel, but I will say that it helped get me through the hard times over the next couple months, and that’s no small thing.

So, it’s good to be back, and I’m excited to see where the publishing roller coaster ride takes me next.

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My brain hurts

Lately, I’ve been watching Doctor Who in the mornings while I have my breakfast, and this little morning ritual has reinforced how much I dearly love that show, but it’s also reminded me of something that I need to make a note of here so that I won’t ever be tempted to do it.

Note to self: Stay away from writing time travel stories.

Seriously, as much as I love a challenge, sorting out the various timelines in that show threatens to make my head explode, and nobody wants to be cleaning that up first thing in the morning with breakfast.  I once tried to explain to my mother how the time travel worked in Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, and I ended up with diagrams and flow charts and a migraine and at the end of it I threw up my hands and just told Mom not to ask me about it anymore.  And I vowed that I would never ever put myself through the pain and suffering of trying to write a time travel book.

Which of course now means that I live in constant fear of being struck by the perfect idea for a time travel novel, and then being forced to write the damn thing.  I wonder if Steven Moffat does consulting.  Couldn’t afford him anyway.

What about you?  Are there any stories you’ve sworn never to write?  And did you break that promise?

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When procrastination is something else

Here’s a secret: procrastination is always something else. It’s a sign of something bigger that’s going on in the writer-brain, and it’s up to you to figure out what.

That’s what’s been gnawing at me for the past few weeks. Last week I posted about being “almost done” with my book–as much as any book can ever be called “done”–but my progress has slowed. Sure, that can be attributed to my current level of life craziness, but it’s not entirely that. There have been plenty of opportunities for me to write. I’ve just … chosen not to. And I finally figured out why.

I’m worried about letting this one go.

I think the current WIP is pretty good. It’s definitely the best book I’ve written. The world excites me, the characters are fun, and all I want to do it start writing the next book so I can see what happens. I want to dive into back story, keep building the world, and learn the hidden motivations characters have. This world and its characters inspire me so much. Yet I don’t want to send them out into the wild because I’m afraid that agents won’t love it as much as I do. Or if by some miracle one does, I’m afraid editors won’t. I’m afraid it will languish and will become just another book on my hard drive. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been assured this project will sell; deep down I’m petrified it won’t.

So I don’t work on it. If it’s never done, it can’t be rejected, right? And it can always just be this awesome thing I wrote.

Here’s the rub. That’s not good enough. First and foremost, I want my words to be read. I want readers to be entertained by my stories. I want to do school visits and sign books and enjoy my stories through my reader’s eyes. And I can only do that if I stop letting my fear control my actions.

Onward.

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If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while …

A portion of my writing head space is occupied with where I am on the career spectrum. Just how big a portion has changed over the years. In the beginning that slice of head space pie was huge. Ginormous. Because I didn’t have a career to speak of yet. As a newbie writer all I wanted was a writing credit and I was completely obsessed with the fact that I didn’t. On one hand that obsession was a good thing–it pushed me to learn about the genres, learn about the business, and spend inordinate amounts of time writing not-so-great prose. On the other hand, it fed a lot of jealousy and turmoil that I shouldn’t have been focusing on. Spending too much time worrying about not having a career basically ensures that you won’t have the career you want.

The opposite is true, too. Worrying about your place in the career spectrum less gives you more time to, you know, work on your career. This hit me in the nose yesterday as I took care of some writing business. I hardly think about where I am in my career track. Sure, I’d like to be further along–I’d love to have a few books on the shelf now–but for the most part I’m too busy writing to notice. I have three short stories to write for anthologies I’ve been invited to. I’ve got a book I’m rewriting that I hope to have done by November. I’m heading up the Origins Library next year and I’ve started laying the groundwork for that. At some point, without my noticing it, I got a writing career.

I just had to stay out of my own way enough to keep writing and make it happen.

 

 

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The neurotic writer is neurotic

Writers are a crazy bunch. Well, I think artists are in general–putting yourself and your work out there for constant critique, appraisal, and acceptance or rejection will do that–but that’s a whole other blog post. This one is about a specific instance of my craziness.

A goal of most fantasy/science fiction writers is to become SFWA eligible. The Science Fiction Writers of America have quantifiable standards for acceptance: three short story sales to professional markets or a novel sale to an approved publisher. Sounds easy, huh? Yeah, not so much with the easy. I didn’t qualify until three or so years after my first sale. So you’d think I would have applied to SFWA the second I got my third contract in the mail, right? But I didn’t. Not with the fourth, either. It was well after my fifth sale before I applied. It wasn’t because of politics or the organization or the dues or even laziness.

It was because I didn’t feel like a writer. I had five stories in anthologies by a major publisher and several others with small presses but I still didn’t feel like a writer. I might have looked like one, and I might have put on a good act at conventions, but deep down inside I didn’t feel like one. Only “real” writers belonged to SFWA, so I didn’t apply. Then one night I had a heart-to-heart with myself. “Self,” I said, “if you don’t take yourself seriously, how do you expect anyone else to?” and “So when are you going to be a real writer, if you’re not one now?” When I didn’t have answers to either of those questions I realized it was time to put the imposter syndrome away, step into my big-girl pants, and join SFWA. Once the paperwork went through I felt a little different. Not because others saw me as legitimate–if my SFWA membership has ever mattered to anyone one way or the other I haven’t noticed*–but because I had finally acknowledged all the hard work I had put in. I hadn’t just arrived. I had allowed myself to arrive.

Do I still feel like an imposter sometimes? Absolutely. Some days at the keyboard I feel like a talentless hack. Sometimes when I’m on panels at cons I’ll have a moment of “why are these people coming to me for advice?! I don’t know anything,” before taking a deep breath and remembering that yes, I have useful advice to give. I imagine I’ll have moments like that after I’ve gotten an agent or  published novels or been a Guest of Honor at a convention. But I will recognize those moments for what they are–my “neurotic writer” tendencies bubbling to the surface–and won’t let them hold me back from my dreams.

 

*Except for the bouncers at a SFWA room party. Those guys care very, very much.

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