Friends, it has been a week of ups and downs. My mental health has been all over the place, it’s been insanely busy at the day job, I’m stressing hard about sending my kids to public school in a state where masks have been forbidden from being mandated.
But it hasn’t been all bad. I pretty quickly on Monday got an idea for one of my two pitches I plan to submit next month, and on Tuesday after some serious thinking, I finally decided which idea I wanted to tackle for my next attempt at a fantasy novel.
It’s an idea that’s been in development in my brain for about a decade now and I even attempted to write it at one point, but didn’t manage more than about 10,000 words before giving up.
The reason for that is pretty simple. While I have, I feel, a really great cast of diverse characters and, I hope, a setting with fairly interesting deep lore, what I do not have is an actual… plot.
I mean, sort of. Like I said. I have the characters and I have the rough outline of their quest. I know how it ends. But actually getting there… that’s another, heh, story.
With every other idea I’ve ever even attempted at writing, I’ve known the general path the plot would take from the opening scene to the end. The middle, as always, is a bit murkier and tends to develop as I outline and experiment, and even then new ideas crop up while I draft. But, planner such as I am, I do not start writing until I have a firm grasp on the lay of the land.
So the fact that I still don’t really know how to bring these great characters through this interesting world to reach this particular climax… is concerning.
(“But wait,” I hear some of you say, “just pants it! It’ll be fun to discover what you never knew you had in you!” To which I reply…)
Now, it could be that this idea (or, perhaps more accurately, this hodge podge of characters and setting) just isn’t meant to be. If, after all this time, I still can’t come up with a way to move the characters through the world, then maybe I’m just looking at the whole thing through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia.
And if that’s the case, I’ll take my medicine. I mean, that’s why I shelved it in the first place. But I’m older and a bit wiser since I last critically looked at this idea. The way I approach my craft is radically different than when I was a 25 year old baby writer making her first attempt at writing a grown up novel. Rose colored glasses or no, I think these characters and the world they reside in deserve a fair shake.
But this will be the last one they get, because I’m not getting any younger.
Hello and welcome to a late but actually craft oriented edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Some exceedingly stressful situations at my day job last week sucked up some spoons I had reserved for blogging, which is why I went radio silent last Thursday and Friday. This week brings new stresses, but I’m determined to get back on track. That’s what pro writers do, right?
I am coming up now on the climax of my current freelance novella, a little behind schedule. There’s a couple of real life things I can blame (second COVID shot side effects and the aforementioned work drama for example), but I have noticed a niggling little craft thing that has given me to start slow on occasion, including a lot last week.
In reading, we are all familiar with the idea of finding a good place to stop. It’s why I tend to read straight through to the end of a book whenever I reach the climax. It would be easy to apply that concept to writing. When you’re in the middle of a juicy scene, or really fast moving sequence or chapter, and the creative mojo is really flowing it might be tempting to write straight through until you’ve resolved whatever tense moment you’ve started.
What I have found lately is that impulse is to be ignored. Soundly. Friends, when you’re writing, I recommend finding a bad place to stop.
On the days this last week when I have struggled to get started, invariably those days were the ones when I had to start with a fresh scene or chapter. And though I could always reread the previous few pages, I still found that I had to create new momentum from a cold start. It, in a word, sucked. On the other hand, whenever I had to stop mid scene (sometimes mid-sentence) for whatever reason, it was much easier to pick back up again the next day. Then, once I was able to finish the scene, starting up the next one was much easier as well.
Yes, there were times when I was lying in bed, still thinking about the scene I’d left behind in favor for sleep, and I would get an idea for the next few sentences that were too good to let sit overnight. In those cases, I would jot them down in my iPhone notes app, just like I would with any other idea that struck in the middle of the night.
Since making this realization, I’ve made a conscious effort to end my writing session for the day in the middle of a scene, and it’s really helped me stay productive.
This isn’t a new concept, nor is it foolproof. But now that I’m on deadline I’m finding out all sorts of new and, ahem, exciting things about keeping up a steady flow of new words, so I expect more of these not new, not foolproof tips and tricks in the future.
I’m not gonna lie friends, I almost axed this post for this week yet again. I rushed it and after rereading it, I decided I hated it and thought no post would be better than a bad post. But then I remembered that routine is super important to me. If I let myself cop out again for the third week in a row, I’ll be setting myself up for yet another year of sporadic blogs and shitty content. So I decided: not this time. I’m growing. For now you’ll just get shitty content. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll evolve into producing something quality. The struggle of a working writer never ends. Until next time dear friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello and welcome to a more relaxed-than-I-usually-am-this-time-of-year-writing-wise edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Two weeks ago I talked about the itch to get back into a new project even if I wasn’t totally sure it, or I, was ready. Well. Today I’m neck deep in it. And, friends, I am LIVING for it.
This new project, codenamed The Nexus because I haven’t even figured out a working title for it yet, is completely different from my last WIP (Border Towns, remember Border Towns???). And so far that has only been a positive.
Yes, I am still writing fantasy. Yes, I am still deeply committed to planning. Yes, I am still a depressed and anxious writer struggling to stay focused as an exceedingly stressful year comes to its exceedingly stressful pinnacle. But apart from that, The Nexus, and the way I feel as I prepare to draft it, is worlds apart from my last novelling experience.
And if I had to sum up why, it would be because I just don’t feel bothered about the rules this time. And I don’t mean the rules for NaNoWriMo (which I absolutely will be participating in this year, despite my earlier doubts). I mean the conventional writing rules that I’ve either totally made up or otherwise accidentally hyped up (in my own mind) as actual rules rather than the guidelines common wisdom tells me they really are.
The Nexus will be an epic, multi-POV fantasy that follows 12 different characters (though not all will have POV chapters… this time) on 6 different story paths. Some paths intersect, or are otherwise connected, but at least one is completely off on its own. The main cast is predominantly women, and, so far, the planned story paths can differ greatly in tone and theme. Elements of sci-fi, horror, and romance will all be present, as well as the most fantasy I think I can get away with. And, though I know how this book will end, any potential sequels are still just a massive question mark.
Just writing all that out, it sounds like a complete fucking mess that no agent would ever extend representation for (especially from a debut author), and I don’t care anymore.
Importantly, that particular attitude has infected in the best possible way the rest of my preparatory process as I get ready to roll into November. In years past I could not imagine starting NaNo without a detailed outline. This time, even though I have but half of the planned six story paths fully imagined, I’m comfortable if those are the only ones that are ready to draft in two weeks. I have also struggled mightily to write out of sequence. Again, not an issue here, thanks to the POVs shifting. I can write a chapter that inspires me, then jump to another if the mood strikes, because they are both completely detached from each other and happening simultaneously (in theory). I have talked about how I write thin, and though that will still present a bit of an issue in areas like description, I no longer have to worry about filling in sluggish parts of the story. Because I have so many of them to cram in brevity will be of the essence.
I have not a single clue whether or not any of these things are actually good, or if they will produce a novel worth revising or eventually reading. But I just feel so… freed when I think about them.
I did not think this novel was ready to write. I thought for sure I needed to let it stew for at least two more years while I actively worldbuilt around the idea itself. And while there are areas that need more attention, I feel comfortable enough with what I’ve got in front of me. I feel assured that the rest will come, as it so often does, once I’m in the weeds.
So, for the first October in three years, I’m not really that pressed about NaNo. I’m not wondering if I can do it (I know I can). I’m not worried about crafting the ideal novel to launch me into a career as an author. I’m not getting down on myself for not following conventional wisdom. I’m just letting the ideas take me where they want me to go. It’s gonna be a ride and it may be a glorious, flaming mess, but I can at least say I didn’t add a heaping pile of stress at a time I really didn’t need it. Plus, at the end of it, I will have written my second novel, trunked or no. That, in and of itself, makes it worth it.
It’s time to admit that Short But Sweet will be on hiatus until after November, possibly longer. I originally conceived of it as a way to get myself back into a writing habit, and though it worked spectacularly, it sadly means the Pillar-verse will be left out in the cold. I do still plan to serialize the Pillar-verse, probably as more Short But Sweet vignettes, later on, but the effort will be sporadic as I refocus on The Nexus. I hope you enjoyed them and that you look forward to them again in the future.
That’s all from me this week. I did manage to finish a book (loved it, fwiw), so I’ll have a Your Mileage May Vary post on Tuesday. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello and welcome to a creatively frustrated and mildly indulgent edition of Just Another struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
I know it’s only been a few short weeks since I lamented the very real, exceedingly likely possibility that I will not be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but already I am starting think about scrambling something together. It’s not so much that I really want to exhaust and stress myself out for 30 days straight the third year running, it’s more that I just really miss being in the weeds of a writing project.
(No disrespect meant to my Short But Sweet Pillar-verse, of course, but there’s a reason I’m not presently drafting it as a novel, after all.)
Last week I thought I might be ready to try my hand a wildly different version of Border Towns, but after a bit of sleep and a maelstrom of brainstorming, I realized that though that reimagined draft may come to fruition one day, that day is nowhere near at hand. Border Towns, loathe though I may be to admit it, has to go back in the ground as a seed, just as it was 5 years ago when I first conceived of it.
But that itch it write, to create, to commiserate and celebrate with fellow writers about the pitfalls and successes, to pour out my mind and my heart and my soul onto the page, to edit and refine, to be a writer again, that never went away. It never goes away, as I’m sure many you can attest. And it’s all becoming a bit more than I can handle, frankly. I have reached a kind of critical mass where I either explode into a fit of unbridled creativity or I collapse in on myself like a dying star and give up completely on the dream of ever seeing my writing published.
The anxiety-brain, always: anything you write now would be forced and chaotic since it hasn’t had time to develop, therefore it would be a phenomenal waste of time to put any amount of energy into a new project, and you’re only going to hate it, and yourself, later, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
And the thing is, all of that might be true. Except the part about it being a waste of time. Because… what I’m doing now is already a waste of time. Waiting for the AHA moment that may never come is a waste of time. Procrastinating putting in real effort into developing myself as a writer by drafting new novels, even if they are destined for the trunk, is a waste of time. Writing, for a writer, could never be a waste of time.
So, I tempt fate. What’s the worst that could happen?
Yesterday I posted a poll to my Twitter: if I wanted to say screw it and start writing again, which new project should it be? It got exactly three votes. One for each of the suggestions. Cue the facepalming. But, this morning I made the decision for myself. I know which project I’m tackling next. I would say I’m hyped but I’m actually still pretty nervous. That anxiety-brain aint quiet. But I don’t care. I’ve made a decision and that, for me, is always one of the biggest hurdles.
Next week I’ll introduce the working title and concepts of the new project. This week, though, I’ve gotta figure out… what those are. Until next time friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Oop, almost forgot the Short But Sweet Prompt:
She was absolutely sure she would be weeping all night.
Hello and welcome to a post-hiatus, another-one-of-those edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Well, let’s get right into it yall. It’s no secret that, thanks to my lack of active project to work on plus the new content schedule for the blog, I’ve done a lot more reading than I’ve done writing of late. It should come as no surprise that this has been a great way to refill my creative well, and as such, I am starting to feel the itch to get back to writing. But this time, the itch has come with a difficult realization.
When I shelved Border Towns while I mulled a major revision, I was still sold on the concept and the core story arc. I was convinced that, though un-fantasyish in many ways, it was a fantasy story that I would want to read and if I wanted to read it, surely there would be others out there who would love it as well.
I started really devoting mental energy to developing that revision this week, and, as it so often happens, I got a bolt from the blue whilst lying in bed.
Border Towns, in its current conceptual form, is a bad book in which so little happens over the course of its 120k plus words it would laughable, if I wasn’t so horrified and embarrassed.
I touched on this 9 months ago when I ruminated if my fantasy was fantasy enough. Though my conclusion was in the negative, I was still enamored enough with my own story to believe that… it was still good enough to write anyway. I balked at the idea of adding elements that I had not originally planned on including.
Some significant distance has changed my mind on that, to say the least. Not only am I okay with changing the complexion of that original idea, I think it’s actually necessary if this novel ever wants to see the light of day. I can’t say I’m super thrilled about it, really, but the more and more I read, the more I have come to realize that my story idea, the one I have committed two drafts and a couple hundred thousand words (and countless untold hours not only writing, but brainstorming, worldbuilding, and obsessing over) just isn’t adequate as it stands today.
So I’m going back to the drawing board in an even bigger way than I thought. I don’t know if I’m excited. Resigned a little, I guess. Relieved, as always, to come to a decision. Daunted by task and doubtful of being equal to it. Hopeful that I’ve finally gotten over the hump that has held Border Towns back all this time.
This week’s Short But Sweet prompt (but for really real this time):
Damnation, such obsessed faith and flawed education!
This kind of reads dark, but I’m honestly not that down on myself or even Border Towns in general. I think this is the most clear eyed I’ve been about the subject. And without a timeline to hold myself to, I don’t feel panicked or rushed into making a decision I’m not comfortable with. I’m going to let my muse supply me with ideas as they come and actively brainstorm when she doesn’t. I’m gonna get it figured out, with the help of some good books and the knowledge that my struggles have all been had before, by people way more talented than me. They’ve been through it, and now so have I. And that gives me hope for the future of this stupid book.
Oops I got introspective again. Okay I’m really done now. Until next time, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello and welcome to another modestly celebratory edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
So, we are just over a month into my new content schedule and since I’m feeling a bit introspective today, I thought I would take a look at how I’ve managed those changes so far.
It honestly feels a little cynical to talk about, but the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the data the new content has yielded is trends in traffic. By and large, my book review posts are the most popular week in and week out. I continually get clicks and likes days and even weeks after the original post goes up. It’s encouraging, considering it was something I was very nervous about doing. I still don’t know if I’m reviewing things “correctly” but the fact that people are reading them (and even liking them) anyway means I must be doing something right… right?
Some other anecdata: posting at a certain time of day (evenings) tends to draw more views as opposed to afternoons. Misfingering a hashtag on Twitter meant (or at least correlated to) the post not getting any views at all. People from China really like my Short But Sweet posts.
But most important of all, keeping up a content schedule like this one has had, so far, the one effect I most desperately desired: it’s gotten me engaged. It’s given me something to work on every week. It’s motivated me to keep reading, keep writing, keep creating, even when I feel utterly uninteresting.
I haven’t been perfect of course. I missed almost a whole week of posts once, and just this past Sunday I failed to get my Short But Sweet done in time. Once upon a time, that might have been hugely discouraging to me, and made it harder to get back up on the horse. However, if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that it’s okay to fail sometimes. It’s does me no favors to push myself past my limits and if I need to take breaks, that’s fine. As long as I’m not giving up entirely, what’s the harm?
If anything has driven this lesson home, it is the milestone the blog reached this week. 50 followers. Now, I realize that doesn’t sound like a lot but, at a time when I’ve been especially struggling to be creative, it matters to me. It matters that people have taken an interest, no matter how passing or moderate, in what I have to say. Since starting the new content schedule, I’ve gotten 13 new followers. 13 in about a month. Which means I gained 37 in the previous 23 months.
So I’m going to take this modest, personal, meager victory and celebrate it. I’m going to be proud that I’ve kept up a three-post-a-week schedule with just a few hiccups. I’m going to, in this year of our lord 2020 where so much of our interactions, our relationships, our work, is, by necessity, online, look at this as a much needed positive.
Thanks to everyone who hit that follow button, even if my blog isn’t strictly in your lane. Thanks to anyone who liked (both in the digital and literal senses) what I had to say. Thanks for wordlessly motivating me to keep going. It’s seen and deeply appreciated.
This week’s Short But Sweet prompt (but for real this time):
Damnation, such obsessed faith and flawed education!
That’s all from me this week. Just a quick note, I am on vacation next week, so while I intend to put up a Short But Sweet post on Sunday as expected, there will be no new content after that until September 15th. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
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.
I got nothing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hello and welcome to another rambling, existential, content-packed edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Today I’m going to unveil the NEW CONTENT that you can expect to see on the blog going forward, but before I get into that I first want to talk a little bit about what I hope to achieve with these additions and why I’m making the change in the first place.
When I started this blog – yikes, almost two years ago – I had two goals: the first was to establish a place where I could scream into the void about all the parts about writing a novel that weren’t sunshine and rainbows (okay, so like 90% of it). I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on that, even if the screaming has been sporadic. The second goal was to, maybe, possibly, hopefully, form friendships or a community of fellow writers who were like me: near to the very beginning of their author journeys, and having to fight tooth and nail for every tiny success.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at making connections. I’m shy, riddled with anxiety, and possessed of fluctuating mental health that often times means I’m a bit of a flake. So, that’s on me. With that said, I’m ready to make a change, not just to my own internal mindset and habits, but my exterior activities as well. So, while these additions to the blog were first conceived of with the goal of getting myself engaged in the writing community even when I’m between projects, the more I thought about it the more I realized that it can use this newfound desire for growth to forward along that original ambition, the one where I’m no longer just another struggling writer, but Just Another Struggling Writer.
Ultimately, I hope that one day this blog will stop being “the lamentations of yet another person struggling to write a novel” and start being a rallying point, a safe haven, a creative sounding board for those of us who just can’t do this thing alone. More than anything, I hope you join me on that journey.
So, without further ado, behold the new content schedule for Just Another Struggling Writer.
Tuesdays: Your Mileage May Vary or Reasons I DNF This Book.
Guilty confession #1: I am not a great reader. I am slow, easily distracted, and tend to put off reading for other leisure activities, a bad habit I am desperately trying to correct.
Guilty confession #2: I am also really discerning when I read. Actually, that’s too charitable a word. I am fucking picky. I don’t even know why. All I know is most books tend to turn me off by the second act, and even the ones I end up binge-reading to the end don’t really stay with me. Doesn’t mean they’re not good, of course. Just that… well, I’m evidently really hard to please. Sorry.
So, in an effort to broaden my library (and maybe figure out whatever the hell my taste in books is), on alternating Tuesdays I will post book reviews of different persuasions.
The first, Your Mileage May Vary, will cover books that I read to the end, loved or hated. Take these reviews with a grain of salt; because I’m thinly read I honestly haven’t the faintest clue how to write a “proper” book review. Most of the time, I imagine, I’ll probably just be word vomiting my thoughts and feelings without direction or structure. Please look forward to it.
In Reasons I DNF This Book I will dive into specific moments that turned me off of a novel. Whether it’s due to my inner editor not shutting up and letting me enjoy something, or a protagonist I just don’t get along with, or a cringey awkward moment that forces me to put it aside until the second hand embarrassment subsides, these posts will explore what makes a picky reader (me) so damn picky.
Thursdays: Your Regular Weekly Blog Post
Thursdays you can expect to remain pretty much the same, with random topics and thoughts on the struggle that is being a writer. In the past I talked about the progress of my manuscript, and revelations I was having along the way, but now that I am (at least for the moment) project-free, the discussion might trend more toward current issues in the book world. This is the least “content” like of my three planned weekly posts, and mostly will just be a continuing chronicle of my experience in the writing community. One thing I do plan to do every week is include a one-sentence writing prompt for….
Sundays: Short But Sweet Sunday, flash fiction or vignettes
Well, I couldn’t go this whole time without doing a little bit of fiction writing. Can’t let these razor sharp skills get rusty, can I? Now where did I put that sarcasm font? Anyway, at the end of my weekly Thursday posts I will include a one-sentence prompt, and on Sunday I will post my answer to that prompt. All pieces will be less than 1000 words and I intend to limit them all to the same setting and group of characters, which I am tentatively calling the Pillar-verse. The Pillar-verse was once an old fantasy novel idea of mine that was undoubtedly destined for the trunk, and though I still think it is too unfocused a concept to be drafted and revised, I would still like to share it in some way. (Hell, maybe if I dabble in it often enough I’ll get that spark I need to actually write the damn thing.) But going beyond that, I hope that others might eventually partake in Short But Sweet with their own takes on the prompt.
In addition to the extra content, I also will be doing a bit of site maintenance, including adding a page for writerly resources. Most of these will trend toward fantasy writing, since… that’s what I do and all, but hopefully writers of any persuasion will find them useful. Be on the lookout for those updates in the next day or two.
One last thing before I go. That’s right, OUR VERY FIRST SHORT BUT SWEET PROMPT. A reminder: the goal is to write some flash fiction or a vignette, less than 1000 words, and post it Sunday for all to enjoy. It can take place in a world you already created, or it can be something entirely new. If you decide to participate, please feel free to tag #shortbutsweetsunday on Twitter, or even just drop the link to your own post in a comment here. However you get it out there, the goal is just to boost your creativity with some extracurricular words. Hope to see lots of great pieces on Sunday!
This week’s prompt: It was fall, the season of knowledge, but nobody knew that.
Well, I honestly think I’ve yakked enough for one post. I’ll be back on Sunday with my answer to this week’s Short But Sweet prompt, and again on Tuesday for the first Your Mileage May Vary review, where I plan to discuss City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Until then, as always, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.