Let me start this blog post by apologizing (yet again ) for not being more active as of late, and by saying how much I've missed being here. This forum has a very positive way of forcing me to look at my writing goals and work in a way that makes me more likely to finish it. That is something I sorely need.
Which in a roundabout way brings me to the meat, the good stuff, the actual subject of this post. Last Saturday, I completely fangirled out on not one, but four... yes... FOUR New York Times best-selling authors. (Yes I'm still burying my flaming cheeks beneath the brim of my baseball cap over this one.)
It all started at The Panhandle Professional Writers bimonthly meeting. I was thoroughly embarrassed from the get-go, because I hadn't been to a meeting in a few months, and as I walked in I heard a squeal. A very high pitched squeal, as the current President ran over and bear hugged me. I fought my inner voice as it screamed, no my bubble! And managed to hug her back. She proceeded to introduce me to some newcomers by name, and then added she's an indie author who writes urban fantasy and is currently writing a zombie western. This was a little embarrassing for me because I don't actually have anything published, but who wants to correct someone you haven't seen in six months, especially when they only read 500 words and still remember it?
The meeting progressed, and a member of a critique group that I participate in came over to talk to me, and the woman sitting behind me. I quickly found out that she is the writer in residence for the local college, and is a New York Times bestselling author of romance novels (Jody Thomas)- color me impressed! I mostly listened to this critique member wax on for thirty minutes, when Jody turned to me and said, "I heard you write Urban Fantasy and are working on an interesting zombie piece for indie publication. I'd love it if you'd come to lunch with us to talk."
I went, and not only did I get to pick Jody's brain, but I also got to hang at the cool kid table with three other Times best sellers. To say it was surreal is the understatement of my life. These wonderful, funny, awesome women have more collective writer-oomph in one little finger than I sometimes feel I've ever possessed, but more importantly, they have the credits to prove it. Those women who took pity on a poor newbie writer have more books published and on lists than I may ever complete. It was soo very inspiring, and something I won't soon forget.
So, the lesson I took from this experience is... don't be afraid to share your work, yourself, and branch out of your comfort zone more often. You never know who you might find in your local area, and more importantly you never know what kind of friends you might make!
I've thought a lot over the last few months about what I want to get out of my writing. Yes, I write to write, just like everyone else, but I do have an ultimate goal in mind as well. One day, I'd like to be able to support myself with my writing. I know most of us here would like to be able to do the same.
So, if writing to support oneself is the goal... what can we do to achieve that goal? Well, that question requires a good long look at what you as a writer are, or are not willing to do.
Some writers go the way of the blogger, some stick to social media to build platforms, some jump to indie publishing, and others plug away looking for more traditional ways to get their writing out there.
I've talked before about my writing groups, and a few members in one such group are striking into the world of online freelance work. with sites online such as Up work, and freelancer, there seems to be a whole host of places online for people to get themselves out there, and try to make their work .. well ... work for them. I've looked at several such sites and wondered what exactly is entailed in becoming a "freelancer".
For example, does it require near perfect grammar, (if so we all know I'm in big trouble..) being clever, or funny? Or is there some other secret formula for freelance success?
I have no idea, but I guess I'm about to find out as I've just bid on my first freelance project. It's for niche writing, articles about animals. I should be a good fit for this, after all, I've spent the last eleven years of my professional life working in a veterinary clinic as a lead technician, and I already write all of the social media posts for my office. I can do this, I got this. I just hope the person on the other end of the screen agrees. Wish me luck!
Someone much smarter than me once said, "Time heals everything."
Although, I'm sure this is true, sometimes it just doesn't seem that way. I've been absent as of late because I haven't been writing, and didn't feel like posting anything for fear it would come out like a pity party. I've spent the last few months wading through my own personal well of muck and excrement. It hasn't been fun, but hopefully I'm through the worst of it, and will soon start to feel more like myself again.
I know I've talked a good deal before here about how dealing with personal things can affect someones creativity. Sometimes just showing up to do the work isn't enough. Since October, I've only manages to finish one seriously crappy short about a cat destroying a Christmas tree for a rl writing group, and about two other paragraphs on a new short.
Again, not complaining, just hoping that I'll actually have something to post for critique and can be in a better mind set to do the same for others soon.
I hope that so far in 2017, the new year is treating everyone well.
I must confess, lately, I have no idea if I'm coming or going. Adulting is sucking up so much of my mental capabilities that I can't seem to carve out anything other than waking up day after day. I'm sure a few of you here can sympathize with that.
Tomorrow, Nano starts. Does it really matter? No, not really. I participate every year, but I already know that this year I will not be "winning" Nano. I'll be going through the motions. Sometimes, repetitive motions are all we have. And no, I don't mean that to be negative. It just is what it is. This year I will be using Nano simply to keep myself writing. I don't much care what it is, as long as it's something. I haven't been able to muster much lately to even be able to write. That's ok. Sometimes things happen things that just require you to go on autopilot until you're through the slop of it all.
I hope everyone gets what they need out of Nano this year. I do encourage people to try it at least once. It can be very helpful, and in some cases liberating. Happy Nano-eve everyone.
When I was fifteen I had a crush on a boy. He happened to be my best friend at the time (I don’t make them easily). We spent a lot of time together including participating regularly at local rodeos. He was great with horses, where I felt—less than adequate. I remember one weekend we were driving to Sayer Oklahoma. It’s a long drive from where we grew up. We had a 23-year-old with us, who wanted to go so she could travel up there with her sister the next time we competed. (Yes, I agree that’s a lame excuse, and so did our parents.) But half way there we had to stop for gas, and my friend, and his mother insisted I sit between them the rest of the way. Why? Because my friend was a year younger than me and the woman in question kept trying to get cozy.
I obliged and bore the brunt of the woman’s considerable scorn. She insisted she sit in the middle. I stated I needed to see where we were going because it was likely the next year that I would have to drive us up there. After a few pointed remarks on our parts (of which our mothers were both snickering in the front seat) I was informed that I was a pessimist. I replied, “No, I’m just the dose of reality that you need.”
I bring this up because it wasn’t the first time over the years that it’s been brought to my attention that I’m either a pessimist or very negative— and ya know what? It’s true. Yes, I said it. It’s very true. Over the years, that statement I snapped back at the 23-year-old would be sicko still holds true, at least in my mind. When I think I’m being realistic about things it’s usually just my brain deciding that for whatever reason the situation is probably not going to go down like anyone involved hopes it will. Part of that is past experience, but mostly it’s my coping mechanism. It’s not a healthy one.
Often I feel like I’m a failure. I have this picture of myself that I strive to get to. Someone who's “with it”, meaning well put together, has their ducks in a nice little row and knows what she wants, or better yet just exactly how to get there. That’s not life. I know this, and yet I still feel bad every once in a while for not being that person. That’s not to say I don’t have most of my ducks in their nice little rows, it’s just easy to forget that when doubt sneaks up and smack you upside the head at 10PM on a Saturday night.
My way of coping with those feelings is to reach out to friends. Hopefully to try talking my way out of them, but often it results in my negativity leaching through the conversation. The horror doesn’t stop there. It’s hard NOT to be negative about a wide range of things. Sometimes, it even affects my creativity, but especially my writing.
I recently got back a form letter that said thanks for submitting to such and such, and we’ve announced the winners, better luck next year. This short was one of the better things I’ve written lately, but it wasn’t good enough, and the part that it wasn’t good enough is ok. I’m not upset. But what’s happened is that I’ve let myself get fixated on how I can make it better, instead of plotting, and actually writing, which isn’t good. So how do you break habits?
First, I believe you HAVE to acknowledge them. This is me doing that. I have a bad habit of being negative about my writing, and letting my negativity affect my creativity, and I realize I have to stop doing that. I have to keep working and let it go. It’s a stepping stone for becoming the best writer I can be, and nothing more.
Second, hold yourself accountable to your goals. If you feel like you’re letting your expectations of yourself, or what others expect from you down, stop. Realize that the only thing you're accountable for is not finishing or seeing through your goal. It doesn’t matter how you get there, or how long it takes you to get to that point in your journey, what matters is that you do get there.
I know it’s easier said than done, most things are—but I feel like it’s worth the effort to try. How do you cope with the parts of yourself that hinder your progress?
Separate names with a comma.