I had an almost finished short story for several months now. At last I got over my procrastination, finished my edits and gave it to my husband who is my alpha reader. He gives useful feedback and the stories he likes the most are the stories I’ve been able to sell, so he has good taste too.
The ‘Now what?” in the title is about critique groups for writers. I am a member of a couple, and I’ve given critiques. I enjoy doing it and like what I get to read more than not, but I’ve never submitted my own story for feedback. I wonder if I should. There is lots of contradictory advice on this topic (or on all writing related topics perhaps?) out there in the web spaces. Some writers say critique from other writers is a must, others say no, it’s a waste of time, just do your best and submit and keep going. I imagine that it depends. Doesn’t everything? I can completely see how a really good critique group could be super helpful, and a bad one would be worse than no critique group. That doesn’t help me decide if I want to trust my story to a group yet.
Obviously, I don’t love rejection, but so far the rejection letters I’ve received, even the form ones are mostly kind. I don’t think editors like being cruel in general. And I get that even good stories can be hard to place because there are more good stories written than there are places to print them. So just sending the stories out and getting rejections is something I’ve learned to handle. Yet the idea of someone I don’t know, or don’t know well picking apart my story in detail to my face, even if they’re nice about it, horrifies me. Is this something I need to get over, or is it something I can just skip without worrying overmuch about it?
I will stay a member of these group because the process of critiquing other’s work helps me think about a story and what helps it work, so It’s good for me. Plus, as I said before, I’ve gotten to read some gems either before they’re published, or that no one else has gotten to read at all. For now though, I think I’ll just keep going with my process. If I feel a story is ready, I’ll send it out to markets. Maybe when I have a story that I feel isn’t quite working but I don’t know why, or one that can’t seem to find a home when I send it out – maybe those are the stories that need to go to a critique group.
Other writers out there. Do you use a critique group? If so, do you send them everything, or do you have another system for what you share?
My quest to start sending more stories out has reaped it’s first victory. My short story “Eye of the Beholder” will appear later this year at Zooscape Zine. I’m so glad this story turned out to be a good fit for them because I’ve been reading over there a bunch lately, and love the animal and fantastical vibe of it all. Go check it out, and don’t worry, I will definitely be reminding you when my story goes live there later in the year.
This is my first reprint sale, and I posted back in January on Submitting Again that I had just had a light dawn that my older stories were available for the reprint market, and I was going to give it a shot. After getting a few stories out there, I had hoped that I would stress about hearing back for each one a little less. Like the stress would dilute somehow. That isn’t how it turned out, but I do have to say that a single acceptance does help take the sting out of other past rejections and gave me renewed vigor to write new words too.
I mentioned in my post about my 2020 accomplishments that I had started submitting short stories again. Really, it was only one story, and some of the markets took months to reply, so it had just been out to a few places so far. I’m also making myself send it to dream magazines and websites despite the temptation to send it somewhere with less competition. It’ll probably take longer to find it a home this way, but you don’t know if you don’t try. Right? And I’m not in a hurry.
It would be nice to send out more though. I do have a second story I’m just finishing that I’ll be sending out soon, but I’m not a fast writer. Some writer folks I follow on Twitter talk about submitting, and I find the chatter encouraging. Some give themselves challenges of submitting on a schedule, or I saw one that wanted to submit something for 14 days in a row. I was amazed. Who has 14 things ready to submit? (Probably a lot of people actually, but I was still impressed). I’m a little embarrassed to admit, that I just recently figured out that some of the things they sent out were reprints. It seems so obvious now, but I’ve only ever been on the outskirts of the publishing world, peeking in here and there. But that’s what writers do. They sell things again if they can.
Then my next revelation came: I have previously published stories. The contracts on them are long ended. I could (theoretically) sell reprints too. That would be a fun way to get more out there without killing myself trying to produce more faster. So that’s a goal this week. Do some market research for reprints. Maybe one day I will know all the ins and outs and feel more confident, but in the meantime, this is how I learn.
Here’s hoping I’ll have a sale to announce sometime in 2021.
I’m sort of giving up on NaNoWriMo this year. I started off behind and stayed there. For awhile I was only a little behind, enough that if I really put in some extra work I could catch up. So I tried to do that. But Last week I started to not feel well, and to sleep poorly. I was having stress about how I would have time to get my extra words in and all the other things I need to be doing. My house was disgusting (even worse than normal).
So I’m no longer going to try to catch up. Now I am making it my goal to continue to write every day until the end. And the past three days have felt much better. I’m getting my life obligations mostly dealt with and I’m making good progress on the novel (but in a 500-1000 word a day pace instead of a 2500 word a day pace I would need to catch up.)
I have won NaNoWriMo once so I know the level of work it takes, and I know I can do it, but I’ve decided the cost is not one I can afford this year. As usual, I’m very happy I signed up and tried, and I’m going to continue working. I’ve gotten far enough in to better understand my characters, and I’m getting to the more fun parts of the story (the first 5000- 8000 will probably get cut). In fact, I might make it my goal to continue the daily writing at whatever word count I can handle each day until the first draft is completed instead of just through November. The NaNo website stat page tells me at this pace I will finish 50,000 words on Dec 18th, but I’m sure I’ll need many more words than that to finish.
So I will still log on for some sprints, still love the community and the goals, but I’m adjusting for my health. I’m grateful that it got me started on a book that I’d kept putting off beginning work on though. That’s worth it.
It’s the first day of NaNoWriMo, so naturally, I’m procrastinating by writing a blog post and looking for a fun word progress widget since the official NaNoWriMo website doesn’t have them anymore. I finished up my short outline last night. Just the 7 point plan style, and the last couple points are sort of ‘I don’t know how they get to this point, but here’s what I’d like to happen here’. It will be interesting to play and figure out how to get there along the way.
I don’t try to stay up and start writing at midnight anymore. Not after a full workday. I just don’t have it in me. So I’m starting today.
13295 / 50000 words. 1% done!
I found this widget here, then I got to do some googling to learn how to get a html code to work on my WordPress blog. Something I guess I hadn’t done before now because I couldn’t get it to work at first. I like learning new things, but time to stop procrastinating and start drafting!
P.S. I’m karabu over at NaNoWriMo.org if anyone is looking for a writing buddy.
This is my 18th day of writing every day. I’d gone many months of not writing much of anything. I knew my excuses to myself about why I wasn’t writing were mostly crap, but I just couldn’t seem to make myself sit down and do it.
I used to really dislike exercise. Maybe a short nature walk. Maybe an easy bike ride, as long as it wasn’t too often. Since my recovery from the string of surgeries a few years ago, I’ve gotten a nice exercise routine down. With the pandemic still raging, I’m not at the gym with weights anymore, but I’m still exercising at home with a pretty good routine. Now, I feel off if I don’t get some form of exercise in every day. Sometimes it’s just a short go on the stationary bike if I’m really tired, but I do something each day.
I figured if I could do that – if I could become someone who exercised habitually, I should be able to write regularly too. A writing routine should be easier even. I LIKE to write after all. Don’t I?
So I did a lot of thinking about how I got to where I am with my exercise and decided to use those ideas to get a writing routine down. What is working for me so far:
- My exercise bike keeps track of my daily streak, and makes a fuss about milestones. So I’m trying to keep a writing streak going. Even if I can only manage a sentence, it will count.
- I plan the day before when I will write and what project I’m going to work on: my fiction, my staff newsletter for the day job, a writing exercise, or something else.
- I’m generous about what counts as writing. As above, if I’m exhausted and can only manage a few minutes, that’s okay. Over time I will try to extend this. I love reading books and listening to podcasts about writing, but those don’t count on their own. If I do a writing exercise with it, THAT can count. Editing might be time reading my own story and making some notes. That counts.
- The biggie I think is deciding inside myself that this would matter. The streak would matter. The often tiny little pockets of time would matter. It was all important. I’ve found myself bopping around doing whatever in an evening and thought, “Ah! Look at the time, I better do my writing before it gets any later!” Then I do. I used to look and think, “It’s already so late, I’ll try to write tomorrow.” The mental shift is huge for me.
I’m only 18 days in. Nowhere near what the habit experts say you need to make something a habit, but it’s so, so much more that I had been doing that I’m proud, and excited that I believe this will stick. Some day eventually though, I’ll break my streak. I’ve done that with my exercise. Not only was I tired, but I had a pounding headache, or hurt my back or something and pushing though would have been worse than taking a break to rest. Resting is okay. Resting is good sometimes. But I hope with writing, as with exercise for me, it will be the exception, not the normal state of things.
If you have a writing routine that works for you, or for any good habit you’ve created for yourself, please share in the comments!
This was my second year attending Fog Con. It’s a smaller Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror literary convention in Walnut Creek, California. It’s just delightful. While the books above are the only physical books I left the con with I have a much, much, much, longer list of titles, authors, podcasts and a few games that I will be looking into in the coming months. It was hard to restrain myself in my purchases but I have literal stacks of books falling over because I am out of shelf space. Will I avoid buying more? – HA! of course not. But I’ll be looking mainly at ebooks for a bit.
The most fun part is meeting these amazing authors and listening to them talk about writing, fan over the stuff they love, and learning so much. It’s a small enough gathering that several times I would go to a panel and listen, sometimes figure out that, hey! that person wrote that book I like so much! Then at the next panel I went to, they were sitting next to me in the audience.
I attended panels on Societal Defaults That Carry Into Fiction, Choose Your Own Adventures, How Deep Do We Dig: Research for Writers, Small Scale SFF, SFF Podcasts, The Value of Hopepunk, and I went to a Reading with 3 great authors who made me want to run out and get their horror books even though I usually avoid horror.
I also did a very brave thing for me, and I signed up to attend a lunch get together for a local writing group that I technically joined some time ago, but haven’t actually ever attended any of their meetups. I’m glad I did. I enjoy the company of other writers, they are such interesting people (or maybe just because they clearly love books as much as I do). So now I am also signed up to attend one of their critique sessions and I think the lunch helped make me brave enough to not back out of that. Although I suppose it’s possible it won’t happen, at least in person. We’ll see what state of social distancing we are in come mid April.
Here’s hoping for the best.
And I’m already looking forward to next year’s con.