Too Many Feels about Writing

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this exchange:

Encouragement

When people say things like this, I feel great.  For a while.  The monumental effort involved in this endeavor, especially when contemplating the vast desert expanse before reaching publication, is enough to crush even the most positive mindset.  It’s fragile, and the slightest jar can be enough to shatter it.

Writing (or any creative profession, really) carries a lot of feelings with it.  Some people have great difficulty dealing with them.  If you’re inclined toward addiction, you might cope by self-medicating.  I don’t do that, but I’m quite sure the stress will cut years off my life.

In no particular order, here are some of the feelings writing has been poking me with lately.

Impatience

Publishing takes a long time.  I’m not the most patient person on earth, and I’ll never be any more so than I am right now.  I find myself saying, Enough already, Universe.  Let’s get going.  It would probably help if I had something in my personal life, but alas, the Big U has implied that the books will come first.  This vague revelation leads to hurt, because I’ve waited long enough, thank you.

Panic

Did I cross all my I’s and dot all my T’s?  Is that query letter as good as it can be?  Answer:

It can always be better, but the time to realize that is not after you’ve hit Send.

Elation

This strikes at odd moments and may be unrelated to writing, since I’m going on vacation soon.  I booked my train tickets this weekend.  For two days, I walked around with a heightened sense of anticipation that sent energy surging through my body, almost like an adrenaline rush but without the shakiness and rapid heartbeat.  Elation makes me hyper-aware of things—if I listen to music, I hear every note, every chord.  The sky looks bluer, the future brighter, and at those moments, anything seems possible.

Stress

Elation also leaped up after Brian posted that tweet (seriously, a horror Grand Master said he likes my book!), but then I stared, unseeing, at the screen and it all turned to pressure and stress.  What to say next?  How to say it?  Why can’t I put what is in my head down on the page?  I know what’s going to happen.  Why am I so goddamn tired?

Jealousy

Creative people do get jealous of each other.  Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha made me so jealous I could hardly see straight.  It helped that I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  The best way to deal with professional jealousy is to examine the work and observe successful elements you can translate to your own work, to make it better.

I have little to say about personal jealousy, except that if it leads to obsession, you better get rid of it fast because you won’t be able to concentrate long enough to write a coherent sentence.

 It mostly comes at night…mostly. 

It mostly comes at night…mostly.

 Image:  ign.com

Despair

I’ll never be good enough; I’ll never be published, and no agent / publisher / reader will ever give a shit about me.  Here’s where the dearth of personal involvement cuts deepest.  It hurts when no one you’re not related to is there to say “Hey, I love you no matter what, and I think you’re brilliant.”  The evil little voice inside my head says that since no other person wants me, clearly no agent ever will either.

Hope

This is the cruelest one of all.  It makes you delusional.  You feel that possibilities are endless.  Writing by its very nature forces you to imagine them, and this hones your ability to hope.  It becomes a tool that can turn on you in an instant and cut deeper than a surgeon’s scalpel into the most tender and vulnerable part of your psyche.  Reality is hope’s most dangerous predator.

Oh hello….didn’t see you there.  0_0

Oh hello….didn’t see you there.  0_0

 Image:  Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And then there’s this.  Although I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t feel the same, you never can tell.  Dreams up close can be rather frightening.

————

Feelings aren’t always rational, and neither are the thoughts that go with them.  They aren’t good or bad, either; they just are.  What you do with them is what matters.

Writers can use healthy mental exercises to curb thoughts like “I’m not good enough.”  If they are actively practicing their craft, they will get better at it.  I guarantee you Brian would not have said he liked a manuscript of mine two books ago.  The fact that he’s saying it now lets me know that I’ve grown as a writer.  By doing what?  Wishing?  No, by writing.

You know that thing the Universe has apparently sent to someone else (grr)?  Well, wishing might help here, and praying might also, but so will preparing myself to receive the opportunity if the Universe should reconsider.  And that’s what I have to do for writing too.

When it’s your turn to cycle through these emotions, don’t try to push them away.  Let them come.  Clamping a lid down on feelings only ensures their eventual explosive release.  And don’t let them talk you into giving up.  The only book that is never published is the one never written.

How to Drive Yourself Insane

Hope everyone in the US had a safe and fun Fourth of July.  Mine was safe, though dull.  As I had nothing to do, I sat on the couch all day sipping tea and pretending I was British and didn’t care.  I didn’t even get in the shower until three in the afternoon.  It was kind of nice, actually.

Except I have been going INSANE.

I’ve gone through all my materials for the Rose’s Hostage sequel–working title An Unsettling Calm (meh)–and the really diabolical plot I wanted to use is falling by the wayside.  I had abandoned the original plot as too sensational, but I reread the beginning and it was GOOD.

I’m going back to it.  It’s like returning to an old lover, one you didn’t date long but who thrilled you for a while anyway, and who still makes your pulse race when you think of him.

Reunions are sweet.  Unless he stole your purse last time. 

Reunions are sweet.  Unless he stole your purse the last time.

 Image:  nuttakit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ll save the diabolical thing for Book Three of the Detective Pierce Chronicles.  I couldn’t tie the villain in with the subplot, no matter how I tried, but Original Plot and I still have some connecting we can do.

The mini-NaNoWriMo may not be a thing, since I wanted to start it on the first of the month and I didn’t get to it (my fault entirely—I’ve been taken up with stupid mental crap).  But I decided I would attempt to write two things at once.  Horrors!

The other book I can’t tell you about at all right now.  But I will be sporadically working on it, with the bulk of the effort going toward Pierce Book Two.  I should be able to get a lot done in the next two-and-a-half months.

Here are some bona fide ways to drive yourself insane and guarantee that you can’t get a project started.

Ambitiously plan to write two books at once when you usually only do one

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Put research ahead of the actual writing

This is a bad one.  I’m guilty of this.  I can get so caught up in research that I actually do nothing toward whatever I’m working on.  Example:  I have yet to complete one single dollhouse or room box, but I now have an extensive knowledge of Victorian household gadgetry.

Watch too much TV

Or Netflix.  My shows aren’t on right now (The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Doctor Who), but that doesn’t stop me from consuming every British comedy series my little red online friend has to offer (Little Britain!).  It’s so tempting to schlep home tired from my day job, do a workout, and then go straight to the My List page.  Bad writer.  Bad.

I laughed so hard at this show I almost coughed up a lung. 

I laughed so hard at this show I almost coughed up a lung.

Image:  mirror.co.uk

Read too much crap on the internet

Oh, Buzzfeed.  You are such a frenemy.  I love your quizzes, your silly GIF posts, your hacks, and how your UK edition constantly shoves more cool London stuff that I will not possibly have time to do right in my face.

I know there are apps or plugins that block you from the internet so that you can work, but I’m afraid if I try one that I’ll tear a hole in my computer trying to get past it.

Plan a vacation

My UK holiday is almost completely set up, except for train tickets to Cardiff (too early to book yet) and a possible quick jaunt up to Loch Ness in the beautiful West Highlands of Scotland via sleeper train (a bucket list item).  Once that is squared away, I can just STOP PLANNING AND GET TO WORK ALREADY.

Or, I could just trust the thetrainline.com email reminders and STOP PLANNING AND GET TO WORK ALREADY.

You did promise me, you know.

You did promise me, you know.

Image:  imageevent.com       

 Yes, sir, I know.

Think way too much about things that in real life will probably not happen but are not impossible because the world is a magical place and the Universe really needs to reconsider and fork it over anyway

The less said about that, the better.

———–

In the coming weeks, I will blog to you as I write, so you can vicariously experience the madness that is me trying to do more than one thing at a time.  In the words of the immortal Bette Davis:

 

NaNoWriMo Day 30 – FINISHED!!!!!!

Word count – 7,266.  Yes, you read that right.

Final word count  – 76,212.

I AM FINISHED.  The first draft of Tunerville is done!

I wrote all day and my hands are killing me.  There is a lot of rewriting to do, and I still have some stuff I’d like to add.  But the rough draft is complete.  It has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Thanks very much to everyone who encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo and for those who were kind enough to comment.   For those who participated, I hope your work went well, even if you didn’t finish.   Keep on going.  There’s no reason to stop now!

Now go celebrate!

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Day 8 – Asleep at the Post

Word count:  1,023.

Too tired to continue.  I wrote two articles for a guest post gig today, took a hard walk, and looked for jobs on the internet.  Tomorrow I have an interview.

During tonight’s session, I ran into a common conundrum in Writer Land, that of the Mysterious Changing Plot Device.   I had something already written for a pivotal event, but now I have to scrap it.  With the changes I’ve made, it just doesn’t make sense.

Nooooooo!

Image:  AmericanCinematiquecalendar.com

I was kind of bummed, but it happens.  I usually keep a file for cuts so I can pick their bones later for useful bits.   There is some good stuff in there I can salvage, so it’s not a total loss.

The good part is that I was able to sit down and force myself to write, even though I’m really tired and I didn’t feel like it.  That’s the mark of a real writer.  I may end up being one yet.

Time to stop now because I can’t see the page anymore.  Good night.

NaNoWriMo Day 7 – Back on Track!

Day 7.

Word count -

 

1,958!

 

I finished a new scene, a pivot point before the third act.  Not only that, but there are things that were vaguely contradictory that are now beginning to work themselves out.

In a book where there are speculative elements, your world rules have to be very clear in order to allow suspension of disbelief.  You must set them up in the beginning, and not deviate from them.  It doesn’t matter how outlandish the world rules are.   If you present them as truth, and keep to them, the reader will be able to accept what happens in the story in the context of those rules.

You’re just dying to know what this story is about, aren’t you?  I don’t dare divulge it at this point.  Maybe once it’s finished and I start querying it.

If I told you, I’d have to kill you.

Image:  Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since I started NaNo, and it actually seems to be working, I have come up with a plan.  If I can finish this book by the end of the month, and hoping like hell that even worse things don’t happen in my life (pleez no moar!), then I can get the first edit done by February.  If all goes well, I can quite possibly have it ready to query by the time spring rolls around.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PROMISE ME YOU WILL NOT QUERY A NANO BOOK WITHOUT EDITING!

Sorry, but so many agency screeners get hit by crappy first drafts, and in January, New Year’s resolutions (“I’m gonna dust off that old thing and send it in this year!”), or so I’m told.  You really should be presenting no less than your best, polished work.

Time to go watch X-Files reruns for the evening.  Later.

Happy Halloween and NaNoWriMo 2012

Happy Halloween!

Here’s my first attempt at shaving a pumpkin design.  I used a free template I found online.  I think it turned out rather well for a first try.  For those who aren’t Doctor Who fans, it’s the head of an evil robot called a Cyberman.

“You will be upgraded.”

Photograph by Elizabeth West

No matter what you’re doing this year, please remember to stay safe.  Watch those candles around costumes, and never leave them unattended.  If your kids find the stash of candy you saved for yourself, don’t kill them.  Just steal some from their bags.

From last year, but damn funny:

Tomorrow is the beginning of NaNoWriMoI told you earlier that I would be participating this year.  I’m not formally signing up, because technically, you’re not supposed to use NaNo for something you’ve already started.  But I have to do something drastic, or I’ll never finish.  This has been unequivocally one of the worst years of my life.

Because, you know, chaos.

Image:  US Navy- Aaron Peterson / Wikimedia Commons

I’m creating a category—NaNoWriMo 2012—and I’ll probably only be posting updates this month, especially if I find a job.   I’m not restricting myself from publishing any other posts if I think of one, but all NaNo materials will be under that heading for easy reference.  If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I may be tweeting things there as well during this time.

Good luck to all other writers who are NaNo-ing this year!

Writing When You’re Not Writing

It was wrenching to write the first words of this post.  Why?  Because I don’t want to admit I’m not writing.  Maybe you surmised from an earlier post that things aren’t going very well right now.

But you’re blogging, you say.  That’s writing.  Sure it is.  I’m talking to you in written form, telling you something.  So it’s writing.  It’s just not the kind of writing I want to be doing.

Anne Wayman, super freelance guru, wrote a post about writing even when you are horribly distracted.   She says, in essence, that writing helps keep her mind off things.

I have the opposite problem; I can’t NOT think about it, because when I’m upset, I tend to bang out little Notepad diary entries about how pissed off I am.  At least they’re digital, and I can delete them before I die and someone finds them.

Note to self: burn this old thing….

Image:  vada0214/stock.xchng

How the hell do you write when life blows up in your face?  Here are my conclusions.

Take a break

Sometimes, you just have to.  If you have freelance clients or a deadline, you might not have the luxury.  At least cut back, if you’re able.  Put as many projects on hiatus as you can while you deal with things.

Write something that pertains to whatever is distracting you

Turn it into a project, by golly.  At most, you might even get a sale out of it, if you can find an intriguing angle on the subject.  At least, you’ll discharge some of those feelings and sort your thoughts.

I have no clue what the hell this is supposed to be, but it cheered me up for a minute.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Use the time to do research

I’ve been trying to do this a bit.  Of course, the whole insomnia thing makes reading material very difficult.  I’ve actually had to *GASP* put the computer aside and rest my eyes.

Research is easy.  You read some stuff and take notes.  No pressure. If you act like it’s no big deal instead of life or death, you may dig yourself out of a dead end.  I think I’ve found an answer to one particular problem in the current WIP that’s been plaguing me.

Write somewhere other than your hidey-hole

Get out of the house.  Take your laptop to the library.  They have wi-fi in case you need to look up giant sloth toads of Madagascar, or watch a YouTube tutorial on binary star systems.  Wear headphones so other unemployed lurkers don’t hit on you.

Once you start writing in earnest, disconnect.

For God’s sake, stay away from the button!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Go back to a previous project

When I’m brain-dead, pulling something out of Ye Olde Writing Trunk is soothing.  I’ve said before that I much prefer editing to writing first drafts.

Hence the re-edit of Rose’s Hostage   I’ve got a few more queries to try before I bury the poor thing.  At least it will give me something to do.  And you never know.

———-

I dearly hope you are all surviving this ridiculous excuse for an economy we have lately.  And the drought.  And the unemployment.  And the global warming.  And the religious wars.

We all have to hang in there.  There’s nothing else to do.  Except, maybe, write about it.