Dancing With Disappointment

Hello and welcome to another fussy, self-indulgent edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

This week has been an ass-kicking for me at my day job, and so I find it to be something of a miracle that I’ve had any mental energy to do blog-stuff at all. That said, I’m gonna do a bit of whining in this post, so… consider yourself warned.

We writers are no strangers to disappointment. Your dream agent responds to your query with a form rejection. You spend months on submission with no offers. Your self-pubbed title doesn’t return the numbers you had hoped. Being a writer of the handful-of-unfinished-ideas and-exactly-one-completed-first-draft-of-a-trunk-novel-and-that’s-about-it persuasion, my disappointments are a bit smaller in scope, but I feel them keenly all the same.

The thing getting me down of late has been the realization that I probably won’t be able to compete in NaNoWriMo this year.

I’m a planner, not just in writing but in every facet of my life. Every Monday morning, as soon as I get to my desk, I fill out the week’s events in my planner. I write in my schedule, I make a list of tasks, both work related and home related, I fill out a handy habit-tracker chart. Throughout the week I tick off the boxes of completed chores, and add new ones. I adjust my schedule as needed. I make little notes about my successes and failures. Even on my commute home, I’m organizing in my head what the first, second, and third things I need to do when I get there. I largely dislike surprises because a lot of my mental health is wrapped up in being prepared.

So believe me when I say, when it comes to NaNo, I can’t just wing it.

September is the month I typically spend brainstorming a NaNo project. My ideas usually need years of percolating before their ready to be developed, so when I choose one to blitz-write in November, it’s already somewhat matured.

This year, however, the fruit of my muse is woefully unripe, leaving me with three less than optimal choices.

  1. Take another, exhausting crack at Border Towns. Spend September and October mentally working through the necessary revisions so I can dedicate my THIRD NOVEMBER IN A ROW to this WIP.
  2. Un-repurpose the Pillar-verse, the setting I’ve been writing my Short But Sweet vignettes in, despite the fact that I know it’s a mess, I know it’s a trunk novel, and I’m having more fun with it in its current format.
  3. Allow my “opus,” the novel I labored over for 10 years without ever getting beyond the 10k word mark, to resurface. I’ve matured a lot as a writer since I last took a crack at it and it could be fun. But I’ve already spent a decade of my life on it only for it to flop back into the depths of my brain.
  4. Or. Just… forgo NaNo entirely. Spend this year percolating and brainstorming and be ready with a fresh project.

None of these choices feel great, honestly. And that’s disappointing to me. I enjoy NaNoWriMo. I mean, I hate it, but I enjoy it (much like writing in general). It succeeded two years running in actually getting me to put words on the page when I would otherwise procrastinate. I also like the feeling in the community in November. The rush, the exhaustion, the elation, the motivation. It would be a bummer to miss out on that because of poor timing with the tide of my creativity.

But, I also have to accept that it might be the right thing to do. It’s a disappointment, sure, but as far as disappointments go, it’s one I can live with.


This week’s Short But Sweet prompt:

Damnation, such obsessed faith and flawed education!


Or maybe… I’m just performing some Olympic level procrastinating and this is all my way of rationalizing it. So says the anxiety brain. In any case, thanks for joining my pity party. I’ll be back on Sunday with my answer to this week’s Short But Sweet prompt, and again on Tuesday with a Your Mileage May Vary review of N. K. Jemison’s Fifth Season (I’m at 63%, I think I can make it!). Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Reasons I DNF This Book: Priory of the Orange Tree

Hello friends and welcome to another lovely Tuesday here on Just Another Struggling Writer, the day I devote to talking books. The good, the bad, and everything in between. Today’s is a review of the DNF persuasion so get your critical hats on, folks.

Before we get started, as always, a reminder:

Spoiler alert
Spoiler alert!

This week’s DNF: Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon; DNF at 36% (though it might have actually been closer to 50%, the Kindle e-book formatting for this book was janky as hell).

Continue reading “Reasons I DNF This Book: Priory of the Orange Tree”

Short But Sweet #003

This week’s prompt: And now the star is dreaming.

And now the star is dreaming. The last vestiges of sunlight have faded beyond the horizon, leaving a sky of black velvet dotted with diamond-like stars overhead. Beneath is a bed of springy, sweet-smelling grass, and all around is the nightly chorus of crickets and toads and the occasional owl.

On the right, just inside Elyse’s peripheral vision is the Pillar — jutting garishly out of the ground, blotting out the stars where it stands. Elyse doesn’t like it, never has. Despite it’s prominence in the valley writ large, to say nothing of the village that encircles it’s base, it has always put her ill at ease. She cannot help but feel it is… watching her, like a great stone sentinel, unmoving, unceasing, unnerving.

Continue reading “Short But Sweet #003”

Character Driven Road Trip

Hello and welcome to another introspective, wakeup callish edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about my heretofore WIP (now trunked) Border Towns. If you’ve been with me on this journey since its inception, you might be familiar with my struggles with it (and subsequently a little bored of hearing about it). Well, strap in, because we’re taking another cruise through Border Towns.

bad trip

About a year ago, I was approximately 8000 words into the second draft and I was stuck. No matter how many times I rewrote it, no matter how many ways I approached it, no matter how long I spent bashing my head against it, I could not get the inciting incident* right. I got distance from it, I came back to it. I told myself I was overthinking it and moved on from it. I came back to it. I stopped writing entirely. I came back to it.

Eventually I just scrapped the scene and wrote a hollowed out version of it just to get me through NaNo, but I was never quite satisfied. I told myself, and others, that I just couldn’t figure out why this scene was so difficult to write.

But… well, that was a lie. I’ve always known what was wrong with it. I just also thought I could force myself to make it work anyway.

The thing is, my main character, L, turned out to be a spitfire. She was spunky, she was decisive, she took absolutely no shit. I thought, as I wrote, hell yes this is a female character I want to read. The first version of that scene was no doubt its best iteration.

Then, I remembered that her inability to take charge and make hard choices was sort of the whole narrative thrust of the book. Getting the point where she would make a stand in the face of adversity was her entire character arc. If I let her be a spitfire now, what the hell would the rest of my story be about?

And the thing is, I’ve realized, is I should have just let myself… find out.

I’m a planner. I’ve expounded on that at length. I love outlining, and I love having my roadmap, and I absolutely fear the unknown. Despite that, I always thought that if presented with a case of the story taking on a mind of its own, I would let it. Yet here I was, resisting with all my might the idea that my character was going to be this way, from the beginning, whether I liked it or not. Would that change really have altered the trajectory of the story that much? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll never know now, because instead of letting L take the reins, I forced myself to remain inside the extremely rigid box of what was, in my own mind, canon.

Man, I was an idiot. But that’s what first novels are for, right? Making mistakes and, if you’re good enough, learning from them.

I find myself wondering now if Border Towns can be salvaged by starting fresh with this new perspective in mind. But, even if it can’t (after all, my struggles with Border Towns did not begin and end with L’s characterization), I’ve learned a valuable lesson I could have sworn I already knew.

On this winding, wandering, wild road trip I call writing, let the damned characters do the driving.


Mental Health Check-In: Last week turned out to be the perfect black hole for productivity. Busy day job, doctor appointments, birthdays, and my main hobby coming out with some attention grabbing things. The anxiety brain was loud as each day passed without any blog-work getting done, telling me I failed and this is why I will always fail, because I won’t prioritize writing, yadda yadda yadda. That said, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve overcome with my mental health this year, is knowing that no matter how many times I fail, I can always get up and try again. So here I am, back on track, and with a reminder to be kind to yourself. Thanks for reading.


This week’s Short But Sweet prompt:

And now the star is dreaming.


That’s all from me on this Thursday Words Day. As always (or as near to always as life allows) I’ll be back on Sunday with my answer to this week’s Short But Sweet Prompt, and watch this space Tuesday for my next installment of Why I DNF This Book. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Reasons I DNF This Book: Fireblood

Alright, it’s time for my very first Reasons I DNF This Book review. Before we get started, a couple disclaimers:

  1. I thought long and hard about whether or not to actually identify the books I’ll be discussing in this series. It is definitely not my intention to name and shame here. That said, this is still a review series and these are my honest thoughts on particular works. It would be kinda hard to talk about why I couldn’t finish a book if I’m not able to get into specifics. So, while I will be identifying the titles here, bear in mind that this is just one self-admitted picky reader’s opinion.
  2. Since I did not finish these books, I am judging them based on the information I was given. Maybe it gets more interesting later. Maybe another character is introduced that changes the landscape. Maybe there’s a cliffhanger that makes it all worth it. I can’t speak to those, however, because what I did read wasn’t enough to compel me to finish. All of that to say, I may make a factual error or two simply because I don’t have all the information. It’s not done maliciously.
  3. And lastly, as always:

Spoiler alert
Spoiler alert

Although somewhat less so since, you know, I didn’t finish. Anyway, here we go.

This week’s DNF: Fireblood by Jeff Wheeler; DNF at 53%

Continue reading “Reasons I DNF This Book: Fireblood”

Short But Sweet #002

This week’s prompt: The clever man will be laughing all day.


The clever man will be laughing all day.

Hal hates him, whoever he is. He knew it from the moment he laid eyes on his smug, begging-to-be-punched face. There’s just something about him. Something in the way he’s almost hard to look directly at, like he’s always standing in front of the sun. It’s something like a shroud around him, something no one else seems to see. Something that glitters like dust floating through a beam of light in an otherwise darkened room, only a thousand times brighter. Something that follows him everywhere, cleaving to everything he touches.

It’s the same sort of something that lingers in the ruins of what used to be Hal’s home; on the wrecked furniture, shattered glass, the flattened houses of his neighbors, and in the crater that was the epicenter of the explosion that leveled half the village.

The stranger has something to do with that disaster, and every other horrible event the village has suffered since, Hal is certain of it. He just has to prove it

“Halcyon!”

Continue reading “Short But Sweet #002”

Overthinking Olympics

Hello and welcome to another anxiety-fueled edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

So, it is now one whole week into the new content schedule and it didn’t even take me that long to realize that it’s going to be a helluva lot of work to main. Certainly more than the non-existent workload of the last several months since consigning Border Towns to the “to be revised once I’ve had some significant distance” pile. But, you know, that was sort of the point, wasn’t it? To give myself something to creative engage with while I brainstorm the next novel? The way I’ve designed the posting schedule means that almost immediately after I’ve finished One Thing I have to start outlining the Next Thing with nary a moment to bask in the joy of success of the First Thing.

But again, maybe that’s actually a positive change. There’s some popular conventional wisdom out there that suggests if you want to be successful at writing, you need to treat it like a job, even if it’s not your job. And while that might be a little too unrealistic and burdensome on some people, it is absolutely true for me. I know myself well enough to know that if I continue to mentally categorize writing as a hobby, that’s all it will ever be: something I can start and stop at my leisure and a thing I will never, ever do professionally. Which is the opposite of what I want. So, by giving myself a schedule and deadlines to meet, like a real job, I can get myself into the mindset needed to write every day, even when I’m tired and just want to play video games.

i love video games
I mean, I want to play video games all the time tbh

That said, being this active again has given me to thinking (and rethinking) about the way I have approached the writing community, and my place in it. Though it may not seem like it based on this blog, I am actually a very private person. I am uncomfortable with attention and have serious anxiety about what People Might Think if my personal details were on display for consumption. That’s why, for example, my twitter page very rarely deviates from writing related topics. I cultivated this particular twitter account for engaging with the writing community and nothing else (I actually have two other accounts, each for different interests; I intentionally keep all three compartmentalized, but none are really for me to talk about myself).

Which has left me wondering… is my twitter page too sterile for an aspiring writer? Do people visit it and think I come across as robotic and weirdly mission-centric (I mean, I do)? Would an industry professional, upon query or submission, check me out and want me to be more open about my life, not just as an aspiring writer, but a human being? Is the ko-fi link in profile tacky? Do I seem desperate for engagement? I don’t even have a passable manuscript, do I even count as a writer? Is my journey even one worth chronicling?

As dramatic as these questions sound, I don’t think they are unique to me. After all, writers sort of have to be hypersensitive over thinkers. How would we ever revise and edit a manuscript otherwise? There isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t rewritten a sentence half a dozen times because it just doesn’t feel right. Show me an author who hasn’t used a thesaurus to find a new word to replace the perfect one they already had, only because they used the same one 47 pages ago and it felt too redundant. The instinct to question oneself isn’t just pervasive in the community, it’s, in many ways, encouraged.

It makes me wonder how any of us retain our sanity while doing this whole writing thing (age old jokes about all writers being a little bit crazy aside). It makes those who succeed all the more impressive and those who continue to toil in the face of such deep-seated uncertainty all the more legendary. And it makes my ever-present anxiety brain relax its grip just a little bit. I’m not alone in this, no matter how solitary I might feel. None of us are.


That got a bit deep, didn’t it? These new topic-less blog posts are gonna be fun, I can tell. Anyway, that’s all from me for this Thursday Words Day, but before I go, let’s see what our Short But Sweet prompt is!

The clever man will be laughing all day.

If you want to participate just write your flash fiction or vignette and tag #ShortButSweetSunday on twitter, or drop a link in the comments. Looking forward to some great reads! Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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