CAMPNANO (APRIL 2016) UPDATE #4: Take it a word at a time.




Okay, so this is technically supposed to be my last CampNaNo post but I’ll be doing a wrap-up which will be HERE (<- once I actually type it up and post). Count up my monthly stats, flash my winner’s badge, and all that other fun stuff.

This week I started the 2nd of my two projects this month, or should I say re-started. I dumped almost 13K to basically start from scratch from Chapter One. Sad days them, but they’ve passed and I now know (hindsight sneak attack!) that it was the best decision.

Also a huge step for me as a writer and taking this seriously as a career. I need to grow a thick skin and the process is coming along, albeit slowly.

But before I started on this re-write I sat back and faced a lot of doubt. And since I love to argue with myself, I played devil’s advocate to these thoughts rather than mope around and let them hound me from doing a re-write.

Here’s a re-enactment of that conversation one faithful morning last Sunday when I was gearing up to start my re-write for later that day.

1. “My ideas aren’t good enough. Every plot I have has been done, or it’s not a good enough concept. Another author could write this WAY better. No agent and/or editor will want to sell it. Oh, btw I didn’t start writing/finish the first draft.”

Umm…all right, so there’s your answer. Finish the darn draft and then start whining. You’ll never really be able to measure the worth of that WIP unless you finish it and give yourself time to read over what you’ve written. Also you need a first draft at the least to sell to an agent/editor. So few authors sell based on a couple chapters. I mean, I can think of a couple cases but they were pretty special and not the norm you should be fantasizing about.

Trust me: imagine signing a contract to a book you haven’t finished. *shudders* If you’re a worry wart about me think about how your anxiety will skyrocket with a publisher’s deadline breathing over your neck while you type a storm of a first draft. *double shudder*

Still who am I to tell you that you don’t know your story? It might very well be super sucky at the halfway mark and likely never to sell the way it’s going now BUT that’s why it’s called a first draft. We’re, uh, assuming they’ll be more than one and therefore the story will progressively get better.

If you think it’ll help, why don’t you stop and re-read what you’ve written before jumping to shelving it. Maybe you’ll find the spark of inspiration between the lines.

2. “I don’t know anything about what I’m writing about. I’m no research genius – I suck at it (maybe I even hate it, verdict’s out on that one still) and I’ve honestly only read a handful of [insert genre] books and though I loved those books and they inspired me to write my own [insert genre again], what if people (i.e. agents, editors, readers) call me a fraud?!”

*grabs hand and checks pulse* Okay! So you’re still alive. Good. Great. That means you’ve got the time (and life) to read more of whatever genre your story is part of…or whatever.

First, yes maybe another author might be able to write this idea/plot of yours better. But they can’t write the story that YOU could be writing EVEEEEER! It’s a fact. Look it up. (Not really, but it makes sense doesn’t it? You’re with me on this one right??)

Secondly I can’t see where the stress is coming for this one. You didn’t start the (fictional!) story to throw people a bunch of facts to show how dedicated of a researcher you are – readers don’t care about that with fiction. Well, first they want a story. At least I know I expect decent storytelling. Then I’ll look to the research, especially if the plot/setting demands a bit more research naturally.

If I set my story in east Africa in the 18th century in some imaginary sultanate, then I better roll up my sleeves and make sure it feels like readers are transported to that time period and socio-cultural environment. Of course I don’t need to know all of that information when starting the story. I might just run off with an idea or scene, write a dreck of a 1st draft and then follow up each draft by peppering in my historical facts and the strong world building the plot needs to be supported on.

Depending on the genre and your own personal experiences, sometimes you’ll need to do more research for one story than another. But it makes no sense to choke yourself up about what you’ve read up to this point and what people might say about you. Listen up: if you have no contract for the story then you have a golden opportunity to pick and choose your battles.

So will that choice be running away from what could potentially be your magnum opus or will you dive and except wherever you land?

3. “What if I do get this story a contract and I can’t deliver? What if the editor gives me an editorial letter and I just can’t seem to understand what s/he wants? What if it crushes my career before it starts because I don’t sell enough copies? What if…”

What if, what if, what if –

“There, there. Shut up, boy.”

Lovingly, of course. 🙂

I know. Tough stuff but you got to bite down on those awful, joy-thieving doubts. Your fears don’t want you to be happy.

My dad once told me – after I’d moped to him about some irrational fears – that I’d never be satisfied even if I got what I wanted. At the time I was worried about finding a job (I was finishing up uni) and he said it kindly, but also with a bit of the Homerian philosophy behind it. He wanted me to stop crying and to get up and make sure I finished school and landed right where I wanted…and right now that’s being a F/T writer.

And you know what, he was right.

I recently got a contract from a small publisher and that WIP I’m working on right now just might be published as part of a Christmas collection come this fall. You know I spent the first two weeks after signing just sitting around and bemoaning my decision. Wondering if I had made a mistake because OH MY GOODNESS there was so much to do from then till now (or so it seemed in the midst of a depressive episode). Seriously, I almost chased myself away from the opportunity.

Once I shut down the “What if?” train of gloom and doom – but mostly gloom, I had to get around to thinking, “Wasn’t this what I wanted?” Yes, yes it was so what the flip was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just nut up, shut up and be happy?

Because that’s doubt at work. Invisible little bugger.

Or not.

Let me leave this with you: are you scared of failure more or is it the fear of actually succeeding making you scream and run to the bunker to ask yourself “what now”?

Sometimes it’s as much the former as it is the latter for me, and it might be for you too.

Whatever it is, don’t let it snuff out your creative dreams before they’ve taken flight or their first baby steps or whatever other metaphor you want to use. Seriously, write for you than take it bit by bit.

It’s a word at a time, sentence at a time, paragraph at a time, page at a time, chapter at a time, story at a time process.

Make it happen, people!

Then get back to me with a link of your book’s sale story and the deets on when and where to buy it. I’ll be waiting.

One thought on “CAMPNANO (APRIL 2016) UPDATE #4: Take it a word at a time.

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