Tuesday, June 30, 2015

IWSG: Writing is like Iris hybridizing? But I thought it was like construction??

And here we go, another installment of writer's support group. Say "Hi" to the Ninja Captain and hop on the Linky. Also drop by our co-hosts, Charity Bradford, S.A. Larsen, AJ, Tamara Narayan, Allison Gammons, and Tanya Miranda! This blog hop has gotten huge, and we need all the wrangling we can get.

This week, I’m taking care of my mother’s Iris habit. No, really, we’ve reached addiction level, and to make matters worse, she has started breeding them. Last year, she made somewhere between 500 and 1400 seeds from her various crosses. Of those, some 300 or so sprouted and are currently building up enough gumption to bloom (but probably not until next year).

And out of these hundreds, it’s likely only one or two will ever be taken to an Iris show. Hundreds of possible genetic combinations, and only one or two will get to go to the show to compete against the one or two brought by the other dozen hybridizers in the region. Of those, only a handful will go on to the next level of showsif you’re into writing and publishing, I bet you know where this is going.

To start with, those seedlings, the original crosses are new genetic material, the likes of which the world has never experienced before. So are the thousands of novels cranked out by writers every year. No one else has a novel like yours. Sure, it has some similarities, but it’s a new creature altogether. And of the books that get published, well, only a few of them will do well in any given year.

As I’ve been watering those hundreds of seedlings (did I mention it was 110 today? I’m wilting just thinking about it), I keep thinking about how much writing is like those Iris. Some of those plants are going to make Iris blooms. Bright lovely blooms that look just like every other Iris introduced twenty years ago. Sure, the flower is pretty enough, but that’s not enough. If it looks just like the other flowers, it’s got nothing.

Almost as bad are the hideously ugly ones. Sure they have the form of an iris, but they come out looking like someone painted a flower using manure. No joke, dog doo brown is a common color in the iris world. But at least there aren’t a million other people introducing a flower called Hero’s Duty (my mom would probably say that’s because everyone else had the sense to throw out the plants that looked like the dog crapped on top of the stem).

But that’s part of the problem, with writing too. Your story might be amazing, but how much room is in the market for a book like yours? Worse, is that book really in the Poo Parade? Our society sort of romanticizes the idea that hard work pays off, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you work really hard, you have a great book and a great idea, but all the hybridizers were crossing romance and sci fi this year and your book is suddenly elbow deep in competition.

So am I insecure? You betcha. I’m one of the seedlings yet to make a bloom and come to my fate (my mother has promised me she’ll ruthlessly destroy the unwanted flowers to make room for the ones she likes). And I feel, increasingly like there’s a lot riding on the outcome of this book.

I’m told nerves are part of the game.

Deep breathes.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Just a quick weekend post (with a video!)

These past couple weeks I've been away from writing in general because I've been working on my house. A kind commenter asked for a vlog about remodeling and writing, and here it is:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Something we don't talk about: publishing is more business than dreaming

Hey writers, you know that dream you have? You know the one. It's that one where you sell your book and it magically goes from manuscript to book and everyone buys it, and in the mean time you write your next masterpiece without so much as a care about the rest of the world? Yeah, that's a lie.

I know I'm not the first,  but I sort of feel like it should be mentioned that there's a reason most people only put out a book a year and it has nothing to do with all the time it takes to write a book. It's because of everything else. There's the writing--of course--then there's the editing. Then there's the crafting a pitch (long, medium, short, and super short), the author bio (I hope you've been working on that cause there's nothing more nerve wracking than explaining yourself in third person to complete strangers), marketing material, editing, editing, editing, proof reading (both the MS and the Galley), then there's the promotion, the chasing down leads, the helping other people because if you don't have friends and support, how are you going to get the word out there when it's your book's turn?

And that takes a lot of time. I mean a lot of time.

 I had hoped to be up to drafting my shiny new idea by now, but suddenly, there's a big line in front of it. It's stuff like "read manuscript One. Last. Time." and "Write Bio." and "Do I write the acknowledgement now or later?" (pro tip, if you have to ask, now is the time; you can always edit it later!) Then there's the "prep manuscript for submission," task and the "prep other manuscript for querying based off of recent feedback."

These things all take time, and not one of them is in the "write and edit the original book" category.

And the funny thing is that so many writers talk about this, but until you're in the midst of it, you can't see it. I remember reading about Shannon Messanger talking about this stuff. Beth Revis talked about it, too. I really looked up to them, but when they went on about the business side, I sort of wrote that off under the "must be nice" category.

And it is.

But I haven't written a new word in months, and that's not healthy for me or my writing. My goals all along were to get back to writing by the end of June. Do you know what month it is? Do you know what it's not looking good for?

Admittedly, most of my last 18 days of crazy stem from tearing out floors, walls and ceilings (vlog to follow soon, I hope), but it's still a real thing. I'm still not up to writing the next book. 

A wise person would set aside the writing, finish working on the house, and get back to writing when the house is in a livable state.

Let us be clear, my friends: I am not a wise person. I'm also not superwoman, so it's time to adjust some goals, and maybe recognize that the drafting isn't going to happen. (or maybe I can find a way to sneak in some minutes on my lunch break... Yeah, that's healthy, work ten hour shifts and spend my thirty minute lunch writing a novel, that's totally reasonable!)

And what about you all? How do you handle the crazies that come with the business side? How do you balance the "simple" things like having a family and writing?!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

All Work and no play makes me...

...closer to finishing everything but my novels.

Right, so I bought a house.

Then I tore out everything up to the rafters.
Green courtesy of previous owner

Then I tore out everything down to the slab.
Sad construction chair is sad.

I have one room left, and I'm taking it down to the slab and up to the rafters.

I've decided I must have some sort of sickness, because this is sort of how I operate with novels too (but, just so we're clear, it's WAAYYYYYY faster to hit delete, and you don't have to pay to have the garbage hauled away!).

Now would be the usual time when I'd go into the whys and hows of comparing home remodeling with novel editing, but I'm just too tired. I work ten hour shifts with two fifteen minute breaks and a thirty minute lunch (which I use to write, because I've lost my marbles and can't even take my lunch off). After work, I've been going up to the house and working for three hours because, you know, a ten hour shift followed by construction work is totally reasonable.

When I'm committed, I expect all of you to deny I mentioned any of this.

But, even with all this, I find my brain sneaking away to think about my Shiny New Idea. Yanking nails and I'm figuring out politics of my world, magic systems, and who the bad guys are and why they are such bad bad guys.

Which means, all of this is to say that some ideas can wait. Some can't, some ideas are like delicate flowers that bloom once and are done. Some are like orchids and will wait for a while. And then there are the ideas that are like trees.

How 'bout you all? How are your ideas, delicate with a fragile beauty, or are they the robust trees?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: No Logic in publishing

If you don’t know what IWSG is all about, hop on over to TheNinja Captain and check it out. Then go say howdy to this month’s cohosts, M. Pax, Tracy Jo, Patricia Lynne, Rachna Chhabria, Feather Stone, and Randi Lee. Jump on the linky and get a hopping!

So how are things going for everyone today? For me, things were, well, it’s hard to say really. I was having all the wishy washy feelings that come with being involved in a contest. Most writers know them by heart:
My writing is crap.
My work is just a gimmick.
I thought this novel would be different.
But I thought I’d gotten so much better! This is so embarrassing, how long have I been writing and I’m not even the top ten percent of a contest???

So, some time back I started writing (it was longer ago than I’d care to admit at this point, but you know, stuff), and for some reason, I thought that we just got better with time. Like I thought that we just climbed the steps and you got better as you went. I also thought that getting better sort of equated to having the IT stuff of contest glory and marketability.

I’m such a fool sometimes.

And then, while I was sulking around the house (wrangling kid and getting ready to go pour my life into my day job again), I realized something: My Super Duper FAVORITE QUERY in the WHOLE CONTEST hadn’t been picked.


As in, the writer who had what I considered the IT factor, the well written, well polished, AWESOME concept, story that I would have bought based on query and first page in the bookstore (maybe even in hardback!), that writer hadn’t been picked. She was probably having all the same feels as me, and it was absolutely wrong. Like there is no justice in the universe, because I would so buy that book, then go watch the movie adaptation. And I would make ALL MY FRIENDS go with me (I have some powers of persuasion). And that creator was probably having the tough feels about worth and value and how her writing isn’t good and no one wants to read her stories.

Like OMG, What the poor-scientific-method Batman? How is that fair? And there’s nothing else I can do except say “I love your query and first page.” But somehow, the words of a fellow contestant aren’t going to have the same impact as one judge in a contest that ultimately doesn’t actually mean anything. I mean, yes, it is awesome to be picked, and the coaching phase is super awesome, but it’s not any bigger than the regular slush pile.

So yeah, Chin Up my writer buds. If you’re feeling down on your work, and the whole “no one loves my work," try to realize that my absolute favorite out of 195 (yes I read all the queries), that person didn’t get an invitation in the first round. As in she beat out 99.4% of the competition in my eyes and she wasn’t even picked. So, while you’re having the tough feels, just try to remember it could be you I’m talking about.