Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Song Remains The Same: An IWSG Post

It's the first Wednesday of the month which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of über blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh. (click on the link to find a list of all participants)

So, the 'inspiration' behind this post is two-fold.  The first came from an A to Z Challenge blog post by fantasy/romance author Susan Gourley/Kelley in which she writes "I've met writers who work for years on their manuscripts, polishing, rewriting, getting advice and yet never quite feeling ready to send it out into the world. They don't seem to want to take the next step and fight to get their story into the hands of readers."

I might as well have been looking into a damn mirror because I can't think of anything that better describes me than that.

I have worked on Effigy for years.  I have been polishing and rewriting it.  The advice part never seems to work out as well as I hope it might but it's been there too (kind of) and yet, I never do feel ready to send it out in the world.  Sure, currently there are two big gaping holes in Chapter Thirteen because there are two new scenes (part of that whole rewriting thing) I have yet to finish so right now would really be a terrible time to send Effigy out into the world.  The world would end up thinking that I don't know how to construct a sentence properly.  Well, I don't know— y'all have read this blog long enough. It's quite possible you already think that.

But anyway, it left me feeling kind of weird.  Sad.  Depressed, even.  I don't like feeling that I'm not fighting for my book.

It got worse later that day when I tuned in to watch a rerun of one of my favorite sitcoms How I Met Your Mother.  It was the season four episode "Mosbius Design" where Ted starts his own architecture firm and spends most of the episode procrastinating on calling potential clients.  When Robin finally asks him what the hell he's doing, he responds with, "What if I don't think of the books?"  And then he goes on to explain that some architect somewhere designed a beautiful library that sank into the ground a little more each year because the architect forgot to account for the weight of the books (apparently the library was not filled with eBooks...).  This led to Ted's admission that "the longer I put off starting my own firm, the longer it can remain a dream and not something I screwed up."

Why could've they have rerun the Robin Sparkles/Slapbet episode?  I identify far less with that one.

Hey... look at that.  I'm getting sidetracked.  The point is, I guess, that even when (if?) I do finish those two chapter thirteen scenes and fix the other post it note edits awaiting my attention, and then fix the ones that'll inevitably pop up after that, chances are I still won't feel ready to put my book out in the world.

I just... I don't want to screw this up.  I don't want to screw this up.  I don't want to screw this up.  I screw a lot of things up; I mean, it's practically an art form at this point but I don't want Effigy to be one of those things.  And as long as I keep procrastinating, as long as I keep writing and rewriting, Effigy isn't something I've screwed up.  And I love this project too much for it to become something I screwed up.

Yesterday was my In Real Life writers' group and as it was Poetry Month, I shared a poem I'd written and it was well received by all.  One member of the group (the man I not so affectionately refer to as 'Ego Man') made several unamusing jokes (at least I assume they were jokes) about how he was going to steal my work (So. Not. Funny.) but a couple other group members talked about me becoming a huge success as a writer because clearly I have talent.  I thanked them, of course, because it was really very kind of them to tell me that but told them I wasn't going for huge success.  I'd be thrilled with a small success.  I'd be thrilled with the "someone who wasn't me nor related to me bought a copy of my novel" success.

But maybe I should've said I'd be thrilled with the "I finally have the confidence in myself and my work to take the plunge and see what happens!" success.  Because that's probably more where my head's at right now.

So yeah, I am that writer who keeps writing and rewriting and then does some more rewriting before she rewrites some other stuff but I don't want to be.  I don't want to be that girl who keeps saying "This year's gonna be the year!" only to have it not be the year (you know, like I do every year in January when I post my yearly goals) but I don't know how to be any other girl. Not yet.

But I hope I figure it out soon.


  1. *hugs* I know what you mean! For a while, I was procrastinating, obsessing over every little thing in my WIP in the name of making it "perfect." What I was really doing was putting it off so I didn't have to risk failure.

    I was lucky. I woke up one morning, had a stern talk with myself, and now I'm moving forwards again. I know you can do it too!

  2. What a great post. I have struggled with success a lot too, and the way you keep yourself from doing things by fearing to screw it up. Been there, done that.

    Right now I am more and more sticking to something I wrote years ago: If I can make one person happy with what I write, then I did a great job.

    Ever since that realization I have starting to write more on my blogs (I make myself happy with them so I am doing something right!) and on my fiction (my editor loves my stories, so I am doing something right!).

    But sometimes the doubts and fears come dancing a rumba in my head and I have to drag myself back from them. It's all about choices in the end. Making them and then making them every day. My choice right now is to write. Tomorrow the choice will probably be the same.

  3. I have a novel that I've been writing for 22 years. Not all at once - I'm not actually writing it at the moment, but it's in the background.

    The point is, I fiddled, preened, extended. I got a published short story out of the characters, then I decided to re-write it. It's been every length you can imagine other than flash and saga. I've now had an idea to alter it again.

    I've got a horrible suggestion... are you ready? Try to write something else. When I wrote something else, I sent if off and had rejections (etc, etc), but I wasn't failing with my baby!

    Does any of this make sense? I'm sure it made sense when I started writing this. :-)

  4. You need to be chanting this will work, this will work, this will work. Good luck with Effigy and I can so empathise. I don't want my WIP to be mediocre, so I'm procrastinating. I have spent thinking time on it rather than writing time.

  5. It's hard putting something you love and have worked so hard on 'out there'. We don't want our dreams shattered but you never know what will happen if you take a risk.

  6. Well...what if you start with baby steps? Like, maybe don't let go of Effigy just yet, but seek places to submit your poem or short stories or whatever else you've got.

    Or...plug your nose, clamp your eyes shut and jump in already! Take comfort in knowing that finishing that chapter and sending your manuscript out there is NOT the end of editing. There will still be opportunities to fix anything that needs fixing, and editors will see things the author herself never could. Think of putting it out there as just another step in helping your work to be the best it can be.

    And don't forget, you scored an A on my quiz today, which means... "You're going to be okay, kid." ;)

  7. my sage advice as a long time only one article published, writer haha--don't wait for it to be perfect--to someone, it probably already is---and if your friends and relatives want to read your writings, then you are a big step ahead of at least me!

  8. Your book is good. At some point, you will need to stop because you realize you've told us this about yourself. At some point, someone will tell you to put it out in the world and you will be happy enough with it to do so. Stop being so hard on yourself. You are getting in your own way. I say this with great affection and certainty that Effigy will be amazing.

  9. I so know what you mean. I actually had a similar IWSG post a few months ago. At what point do you just take the plunge and send the damn thing?
    It's hard, but at some point you have to just do it. Best of luck to you! :)

  10. Are you looking for tough love? Cause I have some for you.

    But, if you don't want it I won't give it to you.

    But, let me just say this, from one unpublished writer to another, if no one ever reads it (family not included) then we have already failed.

    What is the worst that could possibly happen? Absolutely nothing.

    Finish. Send. Keep writing.

    What other choice do we actually have?

  11. What Heather said!
    Finish and send. You won't screw it up. You'll watch it grow and change and become something more.

  12. It's SO hard to put your book out there and fight for it sometimes. I finally did fight for mine, and now it keeps getting rejected. My agent says it'll happen, but who knows. I miss that time before when it was a dream, and not a heartbreaking reality. I totally understand your plight. I do hope you get it out there though, because I'd love to read it. If it's even half as good as your blog, I bet it's wonderful.

  13. I don't know how some people can spend 10 years or more on a single book. I can barely spend 10 weeks let alone 10 months on a book.

    I try to remind myself though that everyone works at a different pace. Back in the old days, Rod Serling could pretty much write a whole season of "The Twilight Zone" in a week and he was awesome.

    In the music industry too you'll get some artists who release a new album every year and others where you're lucky if they put out two in a decade. So I guess it's just different strokes for different folks.

  14. i cant believe you're not sick of it yet! i am of mine! well, almost! my problem is opposing cp opinions. i get confused on what i should change!

    theres a contest tonight at nine. here

    check it out! it cant hurt to enter!

  15. Sure, you might finish it, sub it, and it gets roundly rejected all over the place. You'll cry and declare you'll never write again and become a crazy cat lady, wandering the streets with a moldy ms in hand.

    Or, you might finish it, sub it, it gets picked up for auction and the publishers go wild and throw a bunch of money at you and you become more famous than Rowling and King and all the cats can have their own castle and someone to walk them.

    Or, you'll finish it, sub it and...who knows? No one, unless you go for it. :)

  16. Our WIPs are kinda like children. You nurture them, protect them, watch them grow and mature, but one day you just have to let them go. Trust yourself and trust your work. (:

  17. you'll get where you want to be just be patient. You'll have plenty of readers once you let your baby into the world. :)

  18. You've nailed on the head the biggest reason I have trouble sitting down at my desk and making myself start a new piece--that fear of failure, and the pleasantness of keeping it an attainable dream. Here's to figuring it out, finishing it, and sending our work out into the world!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  19. FIRST, I want to say I like you and I like your blog posts. You CAN put a sentence together.

    NEXT, I want to say, I understand completely EXCEPT I'm that kinda jump of a cliff personality - hell if I wasn't I don't think I would be living on an island in the Caribbean.

    FINALLY, that said, did you ever think you could be screwing it up by not sending it out there into the world?

    I almost hate to say this but NIKE is right JUST DO IT!

    OK, now you can shoot me, if that was out of line.

  20. MY quote of the day: "But maybe I should've said I'd be thrilled with the "I finally have the confidence in myself and my work to take the plunge and see what happens!" success. Because that's probably more where my head's at right now."

    This is from an awesome writer I know, someone I know who will be published one of these days :)

    Now, go fix Chapter 13 and let your baby go... little by little...:)

    You. Can. Do. This.

    You. Are. Good. Enough. To have even more than a small success... but ya gotsta let the baby go :)

  21. Someone once said- the only way to for sure fail is to not try. You can always find fault with it. I'm sure you could rewrite it a million times, but at a certain point you just have to let it go.

  22. I wrote for a long time before I let anyone read my writing. After finishing (if you can ever call it that), it took me nine months before I entered a contest and found my first cp. It took me six months after that to send out my first query letter :) I've stopped querying for the time being so I can edit some more. I don't know if I'll ever be done. I'm hoping another story idea strikes me so I can move on and fall in love with a new ms :)

  23. Thanks everyone for stopping by today and taking the time to comment. You're all awesome.

  24. I totally hear you on the,"what if I forget about the books?", but I'd rather have the building that sinks into the ground than have left my legacy unbuilt.

  25. It is hard to take that plunge. Rewriting is so much easier; I know because I'm still doing a lot of that myself. You'll get there. And soon, I'm sure.


  26. I fear I'm the same way. But remember; it doesn't have to be perfect when you send it out, just good enough to snag an agent. Then the two of you can make it shine.

    And if that's not enough incentive for you, here's more: If you don't stop editing, you'll never be able to fully focus on your next novel. And the one after that. And so on. So do this one last set of revisions, and then release Effigy into the wild.

    Eventually, you need to risk failure; it's the only way you can succeed.

  27. I know what you mean. It's so easy to keep tweaking things instead of sending them out.

    I have a similar problem where I say I'm going to work on my novels but then never really do. I end up doing other stuff and keep putting them off. It comes down to the same principle of not wanting to screw it up. But we eventually have to just do it and put it out there. We really do, and we'll get there. :)

  28. I'm similar. I'll show people my work, but when it comes to actually taking a risk and doing something with it . . . I'm much more reluctant.

  29. A writer who is always confident about his/her work, never has had a writer's block etc--- is not really a writer worth reading, imho.

  30. I understand exactly what you're going through. After I finished the 8th draft of my 1st novel, i thought I could never write a new one until my first one was perfect. Now I know setting aside my 1st WIP to work on a new story was the best thing to do.:)
    Happy weekend!

  31. Well you could be guilty of two things: fear of your baby being rejected, or trapped in the just-one-more-revision phase. ANd it's ok cuz there's no hurry. But also, there may be other stories waiting to get out of you. Whatever you decide, remember there are plenty of us out here who have taken the plunge and are growing thick skin while continuing to plug away at our dreams. :)

  32. Hey! Know how you feel. Mine is ready for the professional editor. The price is a big ouch but I have to get to the next step. It took me four loooooong years to get this far.

    And yes, it's scary. I don't want to screw up either.

  33. You will SO figure it out soon.

  34. Okay....

    Firstly. You can't screw up your book. It's yours. No one can tell you anything about what it's supposed to be.

    Secondly, there is NOTHING wrong with thinking big. Yes, you might fall short, but at least you'll fall into some sort of success.

    I think you should give yourself a bit of a break. You do have talent. People wouldn't all pick up on it if you didn't. You're not going to screw it up.

    If you keep your WiP under wraps forever, on the other hand, you're missing your opportunities to succeed.

    And that is the biggest screw up you can make.

    Good luck! Let me know if there's any way for me to help. :-)

  35. I just want to say that based on your writing on your blog, I'd read your book. You do know how to make sentences, and you have a very tongue-in-cheek tone that I really enjoy. I realize that your novel probably doesn't have the same tone, but your blog gives me confidence that your book will be worth reading.

    There you go.

    Oh, and why are there rumors you may be fired?