Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm falling behind in my existence!

The sheer number of people out there trying to become authors discourages me. That little voice in my head says, "You're a terrible writer. You'll never be good enough." John Vorhaus sums up this feeling so well:

"I think I know where you’re at now. You’re not as productive as you want to be. Not as prolific. Not as at ease with your craft. Not yet its master, for sure. In the back of your mind you hear a panicked little voice that clamors, “I’m falling behind in my existence!” How do I know you hear that voice? Because I hear it all the time! I’ve heard it all my life. I experience it as the gap between the writer I am and the writer I want to be. I’m furiously interested in closing that gap. You are, too, I know, and here’s the thing I want to tell you. You will close the gap. I have. Not all the way. But some. And consistently more and more over time."

Draft four of my manuscript has some serious flaws. I am stalled in the face of a complete rewrite. The second half of my story works, but not the beginning. I feel like the continental railroads, wondering if the tracks really will meet in the middle.

So I turn to online advice. Show don't tell. Avoid cliches. The protagonist has to want something. All the mistakes on the "What Not To Do" lists? Yup, I've made or am making. My only triumph is that I do know how to punctuate dialogue. Thank-you, Mr. Quiring.

Another writer, Dan Blank, talks about shame and writing.What an odd pairing, but so true. As if there's a judge out there who says, "You tried and failed? How dare you!" We can't all start out as prodigies, but somehow that's the expectation, that it should be polished and easy, the first time around. I may have to work harder, but I will get somewhere, eventually. My goal is 70,000 coherent words (not perfect) by June or bust.

Best writing advice? Fail and fail and fail again. Don't stop.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fear of Criticism

I found this quote in the comments on Gretchen Rubin's blog post Why I Don't Read Reviews of My Books or Profiles of Myself:

"...we all have to find what allows us to stay proactive."

Except I read it as "productive." It is very hard to write and put it out there. Criticism is inevitable. Even one negative comment can haunt and change you.

I'm not sure my book will make it to publication, but I remind myself that my job is to keep writing and improving. If I am successful, eventually, it doesn't matter who likes my book or not, as long as I find some who do. My goal is not everyone, but enough.

I decided tonight not to read reviews or information about myself online, if things come to that.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Blurb

Have you ever read a book where the description gives away the moment that the author builds up to for half the book? All of the author's careful work now seems boring, because the reader knows what's coming. In my first draft, half of my book is about my main character trying to get in to a certain school. But if the reader already knows that she makes it, it's no longer interesting.

My main character also learns certain surprising things about 3/4 of the way into the story, at least I hope they are a surprise, but I keep thinking about the blurb. If it's not going to be a surprise, I'd rather move the information sooner so my readers aren't bored.

What I want to write about is how my main character finds herself. I want to explore the bonds that she forms and breaks and if she succeeds at belonging. Perhaps something like that could be in my blurb.

Thinking back on my last post about genre, maybe I will aim for science fiction after all.