Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There's No Crying in Baseball, But in Writing...

Alright, let's be honest.

How many times has your quest to be a tried and true author made you cry the ugly cry?

This post probably goes hand in hand with my last one about Writerly Fears, because as far as crying goes?

I. Hate. It.

It's something I try to do as little as possible, although being that I'm kind of sensitive, I don't always succeed in that mission. Because put me in front of a movie with innocent people getting bullied? I cry. An episode of Smallville where young Lex Luthor is crying because no one came to his birthday party? Oh, damn straight, I'm crying right along with him. And Extreme Makeover Home Edition? Don't EVEN get me started.

But as far as Writing and The Mission to Be Published goes, there's only one tick mark under "Times I've Ugly Cried."

It was last year, around the time Write On Con was happening. My novel didn't fit the YA genre, and I was forced to let it hang out in the no man's land known as the "Other" forum. There it languished, unnoticed by agents and fellow writers alike, while all the YA entries were getting more traffic than Grand Central Station.

On one day in particular, Twitter blew up like crazy with everyone cheering over their WOC requests, and with each one new tweet, my stomach sank lower and lower until guess what showed up in my inbox?

Yup. A form rejection. Yet another one.

It was the straw that broke my back. I felt hopeless and worthless, and I cried the entire car ride home from work, the whole time I made dinner, and then the whole time I ate, until I fell into bed, exhausted, at 9:30 p.m.

Since then, I've faced rejections on fulls and partials, and of course, numerous query rejections. I've had plenty more moments where I've been certain I'll never succeed in this game, had countless more times where I've questioned my intelligence and my ability to write.

But I've never again cried about it, and to this day, I can't figure out why that was the moment that shattered me.

What about you, peeps? Do you rack up frequent cryer miles over your writing endeavors, or do you take it all in stride?

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Writerly Fears

Even though I was practically born with my nose in a book, and even though creating a story from thin air is one of the most rewarding experiences ever, there are plenty of aspects to this whole writing biz that give me serious anxiety.

My biggest fears right now are these:

- That I won't get a single request on the manuscript I recently started querying.

- That the characters in WiP #3 will continue to give me the silent treatment, and I'll be uninspired for all eternity.

- That I WILL keep writing, and eventually realize all my characters sound the same and all my plots are cliche, predictable, and boring.

I've been thinking about that third one quite a bit. I think the reason my mc in WiP #3 seems to be cold-shouldering me is because she's so different from the last girls I wrote. I'm used to writing feel-good novels about girls who are spunky, a little self-centered, and a lot outspoken.

Not this time. The story is much darker, and the mc is quiet, shy, and introspective. Which, in all honesty, sounds a lot like me. So you'd think it would be a piece of cake, right? Not so much.

But then I'm worried that once I DO get a handle on her voice, the writing won't be different enough from my previous novels. Because, let's face it: to some degree, no matter how different we plan for the voice or the scenario to be, or who we base our characters on, they're all a product of the one brain in our heads. And we only have so many words in our vocabularies, so many catch phrases we're familiar with, and certain ways of thinking.

I don't want my stories to be different names and faces and settings, but interchangable dialogue, emotions, and reactions. I'm trying to figure out how to write not just a different story, but a different book. And it's kind of terrifying.

Is it more terrifying than writing a novel you're proud of and having every agent you approach tell you it's not for them? Well, honestly, I don't know. But I suppose I'll find out.

So tell me peeps. What are your biggest writerly fears?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Writing Ignorance is Reading Bliss

In most cases, a person's love of reading is what inspires them to write. At least, I know that's what happened to me. My whole life, I've loved books with an intensity I don't even feel toward most people (should I have said that out loud?).

Anyway, I noticed a change in the way I looked at books once I started writing, and here it is in a nutshell: ignorance is bliss.

Before I started writing, I could read a book and decide whether or not I liked it based on simplistic factors: did I enjoy the story? Were the characters likable? Did I get a clear picture of the people and setting? Is it something I'd read again?

Back then, I never would've found myself thinking, holy crap, how did this author's editor not make her change all these passive verbs?! Or, holy info dump! Or, this character's voice is way too adult for a teenager! Or, gee, could this plot be more cliche or formulaic?!

Nope. Because back then, I didn't know a passive verb from a preposition, and voice was just the thing that came out of my mouth when I talked.

Attempting to write my own novels changed all that. I kind of miss being able to look at a story through naive eyes and take it at face value. Because the more I learn the ropes, the harsher a critic I become. And, the harder it becomes to not compare my own work to published work, and wonder what I'm doing wrong.

Does this happen to any of you? Is it harder to enjoy a story for the sake of the story, now that you know the rules for writing one?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest!

Today I'm participating in the Origins Blogfest!

The object is to talk about when and how you first became a writer. So here goes:

I'm pretty sure I've been writing stories ever since I knew how to write. I've mentioned before that I was the dorky kid who brought books to parties and picnics, because I'd rather lose myself in a made up story than face the boring reality around me.

Which is probably why my earliest stories were kicked-up versions of every day life.

In 2nd (or was it 3rd?) grade, my friend Bridget and I decided to write stories about each other. We used to dictate plot lines to one another - she wanted to go on vacation in France and have Tom Cruise's look-alike son fall madly in love with her, and I'd give her an equally outlandish scenario - and then we'd bury our noses in our notebooks and write as much as we could without getting caught by the teacher. When we were finished, we'd swap notebooks and read and giggle and put in our orders for what we wanted to happen next.

If only life were really that easy, right?

So that's where it all began. We may not get to dictate our own life events (at least not all the time), but the ability to create and lose myself in a world where I call the shots (or at least where no one does boring things like go to work 8 hours a day and clean the house and cook dinner) is what keeps me writing to this day.

Looking forward to reading about your Origins!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Update From The Query Trenches: Like a Deer in Freaking Headlights

Tell me peeps, did any of you find yourself completely paralyzed by your sophomore attempt at querying?

Because that's where I'm at with queries right now. This weekend, I fully intended to do a mass query unleashing a la my lovely CP Leigh Ann. But when it came right down to it, you know how many I sent?

Four. Bringing my grand query total up to 9.

I know. Someone reign me in, right?

I'd like to say I don't know what happened, but I do. I'm scared crapless this time around. With my last novel, I could blame the rejections on my inexperience or my just-okay query letter. But this time I'm querying a project I really believe in, and the rejections (yes, 4 out of 9 have already form R'd me) feel so much more personal, and so much more devastating.

Especially when 2 out of the 4 R's came from agents who'd requested material on my last novel, and the other two came from agents claiming to specifically want a story like the one I've written.

So of course, the idea of sending out more has me frozen in fear. Nightmarish images of a 0% request rate dance in my head, and whenever I try to query, I wind up blinking at the computer screen like a deer in freaking headlights.

Is it just a sophomore slump, or am I crazy?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Things We Do For Love (Of Writing)

As many of us here in the blogosphere are unpublished and/or unagented writers, I know you often feel the way I do: like we have to beg, steal, cheat, and borrow time just to get any writing done.

For example, I spent almost my whole Sunday cooking. Not because I love to cook - in fact, I freaking hate it. But the only thing worse than spending one day of my weekend turning out chicken and pizza is coming home at night from my full time job and having to do it then - five days a week.

Having a full time job is a huge time-suck in itself. I readily admit that I'll critique or write in my downtime at work, but lately that downtime has been scarce. So, by turbo-cooking this weekend, I hoped to make up for those lost minutes when I get home instead.

I've also been known:

To let my furniture go un-dusted and my family room go un-vacuumed for weeks at a time so I can squeeze in writing-related things on the weekend

To completely tune out my husband to the point where he accuses me of not loving him (yeah, he's dramatic) when I'm really into writing a scene or reading something amazing my CP's have sent me

To stop everything, whatever it is I'm doing, to tweet on of my CP's about a song that reminded me of one of their ms's

To avoid hanging out with real people in order to spend time with the ones in my head and on my computer. Yes, I'm serious

And why do I do all this? Because until I figure out a way to get paid for doing what I love, this is the way it has to be - or I'll be miserable.

What about you, peeps? What crazy things do you do for your love of writing?