I’m one of those people who can be very affected by music. In particular, when I’m having trouble remembering why I write what I write, or why I struggle to create particular things, the right song can help get me back on my feet. So this week, I figured I’d share three of the songs that make me feel warm and fuzzy and inspired. Because why not?
Happy New Year! I can't believe it's January again. 2015 feels like it flew by, with little progress. But I accomplished my goals to write and submit two short stories (I actually submitted three, only one of which got picked up), so yay!
This year, I'm really going to push myself. I wrote about my goals for this year over on the Beyond the Trope blog a few weeks ago, but the general summary is I'm pretty sure I've bitten off more than I can chew with these. Two drafts of one novel, a full rough of another, and two more short stories for submission. Not to mention I want to self-publish my two companion shorts in a single e-book in the next few months, too.
I'm staring down the barrel of these big goals and, like many people working toward dreams or resolutions or whatever, thinking "man, how the hell am I going to make this happen, especially with everything else going on in my life?"
Now, I'm not exactly the best person in the world to give goal or resolution advice, since I have historically had a bad habit of letting things slide. But here is what I'm doing so far:
Obviously it's too early in the year to know if these are really going to make a difference, but I have a good feeling about it. It's nice to wake up and get right to writing, and I already feel like I accomplished something when I get to the day job (instead of the day job feeling like it's sucking all of my creative juices out and leaving nothing for writing).
So, how do you make and plan to reach your goals or resolutions?
Last night, I reached 15,000 words on my current novel-in-progress (working title The Consortium of Extraordinarily Talented Ladies). To some people, this might sound like a huge number. To others, it's barely scratching the surface. To me, it's a milestone.
You see, over the last few years, I've struggled to write longer pieces. I'd get a few thousand words into a project, foolishly send pages from the rough draft to my critique group, and get discouraged by how much work I had to do, then quit and move on to something else. It's a stupid thing, and I should have known better than to send pages from the "shitty first draft." But I did. And I let myself get overwhelmed by how much needed to change.
So I focused on short stories and just playing with words. Which was fruitful enough--I should have a lesbian super-villain short coming out in an anthology through Northwest Press sometime next year, and a second Kitsune short to put out on my own--but not necessarily fulfilling for the part of me that loves longer stories.
The fact that I've written the Consortium story to 15,000 words so far is big for me. It's the longest I've stuck with a novel-length idea in two years. And I'm still excited about the story idea and the characters, which is huge. I know there will be a lot of work to do to clean it up after this draft, but instead of letting myself get overwhelmed by that prospect, I'm somehow managing to take notes on it and let it go. It helps that I'm not letting other people look at it yet.
Basically, this post is nothing more than a brag about the fact that I'm still here and getting words on the page. I don't know if this story will truly be publishable some day, but I'm trying not to worry about it.
Writing should be enjoyed for the sake of writing, not for some mystical bestseller's list. That's a lesson I'm still re-learning every day.
The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' annual conference is this weekend. I’ll be there all three days, starting tomorrow at 8 for a master class. If you’ve registered, come say hi and grab a copy of the Crossing Colfax anthology from the book store (I’ll be at the anthology signing table from 8-8:30 p.m. on Friday night).
Colorado Gold is the only writing conference I go to at the moment, due to several factors, but it’s the highlight of my creative year. I always come away energized and ready to hit the keyboard, which is so important. Plus, the chance to make new writer friends and meet agents and editors from the other side of the industry table is always wonderful. I wouldn’t have met my critique group or helped start the Beyond the Trope Podcast without this conference.
So, needless to say, I’m excited for this weekend (even though I know I’ll be completely exhausted by the end of it).
I've been trying to post here for over a month now, but life and my own insecurities have held me back. Seriously, I'm so afraid of having nothing to say and writing a boring post that I don't write one at all.
Which, when it comes down to it, is dumb. I'm sure I have a lot to say--I just need to dig it up from under all the crap my conscious mind likes to pile on it. I'm a writer, for goodness sake. I should have something to write about!
I suppose I could wax poetic about how awesome it is to be part of the Beyond the Trope podcast. Or I could muse about the fact that my first published short story is coming out soon. Or I could gush about how fantastic Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is.
But I think I've covered all of those pretty well in previous blog posts (and, really, they're recurring themes, so I need other things to post about, too).
I guess it really boils down to an inferiority complex on my part: I'm a tiny little nobody in a big online ocean, shouting into the wind, so it feels like my voice doesn't really matter.
Of course, there's another part of me that wants to just smack those thoughts right out of my head. Every voice matters, even my tiny, uncertain one.
I have a confession to make: I haven't written a word of fiction in a week. I got caught up in preparing for Beyond the Trope's appearance at Denver Comic Con--hand-sewing my Kid Loki costume, researching and planning for the panels we moderated--and then I came home with a head cold that's been making it hard to focus.
None of that is an excuse, I know. As a writer, I need to get better at butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard and getting stuff done.
Then again, as human being, I need to take time to take care of myself and my health, too. That means resting when I'm sick, having fun away from my manuscript, and entertaining other parts of my life, too.
I think that's what bothers me most about the 'write every day' advice most people give. Yes, writing even a little every day is going to probably make you a better and more prolific writer. But you also need to live life. There's a balance to be found there, I think. Don't let yourself get so caught up in every passing fancy that you never get any writing done--but at the same time, don't be so obsessed with writing that you never get out and live.
How do you find that balance?
(My apologies for skipping out last week. Things happened.)
Earlier this year, I submitted a short story to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2014 anthology. It a fun little story that ties in with one of my current novels-in-progress, but I honestly didn't expect it to get chosen for publication.
This humble little story from an unpublished author was up against heavy-hitting best-sellers who might have submitted, as well as plenty of other hopefuls. I don't know for sure how many people submitted, but I knew the competition was fierce, and I've always been a pessimist.
But, sometimes, things work out anyway. Last week, I received an email saying that my little story, "Colfax Kitsune," was accepted for the anthology. I cried a little when I read the email, and shook for ten minutes when I sent the contract back. Today, I got to see who else was accepted--a total of 15 of us.
I am so incredibly honored to be part of this project. There's still editing and polishing to do, but I'm looking forward to the process.
Thank you for this opportunity, RMFW. Thank you for helping me get here, critique group (Michelle and Giles have their own sites, so you should check them out). Thank you everyone who believed in me and encouraged me when I wanted to quit.
It's a first step, and there's still a long way to go to get a novel published, but I couldn't be happier.
I know I said I was only going to post on Mondays and Wednesdays, but today's a special case. It's Mother's Day and I wanted to give a shout-out to my own mother. I talked a little bit about her in the first episode of Beyond the Trope, but she warrants a blog post, too.
My mom is a bibliophile and an avid reader. She's the type that never goes anywhere without a book in her bag (or a few hundred on her Kindle). The basement is basically a library, with all the books she's collected.
When my sister and I were younger, Mom would read to us. We aimed for a daily basis, but that didn't always happen. She started when we were little--with Frog and Toad and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle--but she kept it up for a long time, going through the Harry Potter series and Narnia. It was wonderful to snuggle up and listen to such wonderful stories.
I have to be honest: my love of reading is directly descended from my mother. I wouldn't be writing fiction if she hadn't instilled that virtue in me when I was young. So, basically, I owe this huge, crazy, overwhelming passion of mine to her. Thanks, Mom! (I'm hoping to return the favor by getting her into comics. Shh. Don't tell.)
My mom is an amazing woman. She put up with my drummer of a sister and my overactive imagination for entirely too long. She supports the both of us in following our dreams, and has been my proofreader more times than I can count. She's always been there with a warm hug whenever I (or my sister, or even our friends) needed one. She keeps recommending books, even though I haven't gotten around to reading her biggest recommendation yet (the Ship of Magic series by Robin Hobb, in case you're wondering).
Basically, my mom is awesome and I love her so, so much. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Thanks for everything you do.
The dangers of having an awesome critique group and writing friends is that they tend to come up with amazing ideas that I want to steal. Like Michelle Graham's serial novel over at her blog. Seriously, what better way to keep yourself motivated than knowing folks are waiting for a new section of your novel every week?
That's my super-eloquent way of saying that I'm actually going to steal her idea. It'll be interesting, given last week's confession that I suck at scheduled blogging and things, but I'm going to give it a shot.
So, starting next Monday, I'm going to be posting a chapter of my new project, Chasing Lightning, right over here. Hopefully, that'll mean a chapter of fiction on Mondays, a normal blog post on Wednesdays, and a post for Beyond the Trope on Fridays. (Oh, didn't I mention that I'm the Friday blogger over there? No? Surprise!)
That's a lot of writing, and I have to be honest: I'm a little bit intimidated. Chasing Lightning is an idea that popped into my head yesterday and isn't planned out at all. I have no plot yet, no character arc, no real world building, nothing. Plus, I'm still not sure what I want to talk about for normal blogs, or how to gather those ideas. So, it's going to be a very interesting experiment, to say the least.
A little about Chasing Lightning so far:
It's a YA speculative fiction story about a young woman named Omega, who was born with the power to, apparently, manipulate the weather around her. She's spent most of her life in a laboratory under scientific supervision, but when the chance to escape presents itself, she takes it without question. Only once she's outside does she realize that the world is a much bigger, much more dangerous place than she ever imagined.
Tune in Monday for the first chapter!
I have a hard time keeping up with any sort of blogging schedule. I actually have "write a blog post" on the dry-erase calendar on my room every Wednesday, but I still haven't updated this blog since mid March. Whoops.
Part of the issue is that I don't feel like I have much to write about. Oh, I have ideas for books and short stories out the wazoo--but a blog post? Suddenly, my creative self is terrified and lost. I'm not sure what it is about blogging that does it, but it's definitely an incentive for procrastination.
Another part of the issue is that I hate writing about myself. I've tried to journal on and off for years and find myself to be whiny and insufferable more often than not (hopefully, this is just overly-harsh judgement of myself, but I'm not about to ask). I don't find myself terribly interesting or entertaining--all of that is a characteristic of my fiction. Truth be told, I would generally rather wax poetic about my characters or whine about my plot than talk about almost anything regarding my actual life. Terrible, no-good, very bad days excepted.
I'm sure there are other facets of the blogging issue that I'm not looking at right now, but those are the two biggies, I think. I'm not entirely sure how to get around either of them, but I know this is a thing I need to do.
Maybe I'll take a page from my friend Michelle's book and start posting un-edited fiction now and then. Maybe I'll try and find some prompts and use those to inspire posts (anyone have any suggestions?). I don't know yet. But I know I need to get better about this, somehow.
I'm open to suggestions; if you've got any, send them my way!
Emily K. Singer