This is Part 2 of my retrospective. Check out Part 1 over here, Part 3 will land tomorrow, and don’t forget, virtual cookie at the end of each part!
And so, onward!
Do I know what I’m writing? Hells bells, do I know. Everyday, the story deepens for me, becomes more rich and layered. I always worry as I’m in the middle of it, “Do I know what comes after? Will any thing come after?” But as soon as I stop worrying, ideas start suggesting themselves. Conversations, reactions, locations, sorrows, triumphs … they all start bubbling up. But those are stories for later. For now, it’s finishing the WIP. My deadline is Christmas, my day is December 22nd. Spurred on by fellow writing group member Julia, who took down her NaNoWriMo on the last day with 15Ks of words like a lioness in the Serengeti pulling down a gazelle, I have dedicated that day to finishing the novel.
Truth is, I’ve only ever submitted three things since I started taking this seriously. I’m still waiting on one to come back (and would dearly love an acceptance letter for Christmas if you’re listening, Santa), but overall I am not pursing this to my full potential. I don’t tend to write short fiction, so I have few opportunities to submit. But I could at least be submitting what I have and that goes back to editing what I’ve written. I’ve only polished a couple of the stories I’ve finished, and that needs to change. I haven’t yet queried for a novel, mostly because I haven’t completed one. Drafts I have, revised and polished drafts I do not. I’ve managed to edit a few short stories because the are small enough to hold in my hands. Editing a novel terrifies me, frankly. But so did writing a novel, and I’ve done that, so I just need to push through.
However, the few rejections I’ve received have been hopeful. One was for an anthology that the editor said may make to a second volume and if so, she might be interested in the story. The second said that the writing was lovely, but not for them. The third has, tentatively, made the second round and I’m still waiting. This is progress, real, tremulous progress, but progress none-the-less.
I’m not really sure this applies to me. I twitter constantly, I blog here. I find it difficult to keep up with all the blogs out in the blogosphere — I read but, with few exceptions, don’t comment. Do I have a brand? Do I know what that even means in relation to a person that is also an unpublished fiction writer? These questions are usually horse-before-the-cart-ish. I can have a blog full of flash and sizzle, but if I have nothing else to offer, i.e. fiction, what’s the point? Once I start producing consistently, once I start getting stories sold, then it’s a topic to revisit. But for right now, I’m not crazy or egotistical enough to think that anyone besides a handful of people in real life read this blog with any sort of attention. *grin*
I think I’ve been pretty good about focusing my time on self-education. I read — both in the genre, outside the genre, and how-to books — and you can see what I’ve notched my belt with for 2010 by checking out the tab up top that says Books I’m Reading. (Or just click here.)
I attended two literary conventions this year, Ad Astra and SFContario (and next year’s guest line-ups look very promising). I come back with notebooks stuffed full of advice and more. Locally we had three-day science fiction and social science symposium at the University. While not about the how-to of writing, it was an equally important (if not more so) well-filling session. It’s great to learn about the craft, and put it into practice, but if you don’t have anything to write about, it’s all empty effort. They talked about colonialism, identity, cultural subversion. Great stuff, all. There was a fantastic, knock-your-socks-off session with science fiction author Robert Sawyer talking about fiction writing, too, specifically about theme, that left me much to ponder. (I’m still nursing the anti-fantasy hangover.)
What did I learn? Well, the advice that you can get by book or blog or convention panel are starting to say the same things. (At the same time, advice that I couldn’t relate to a few years ago now makes more sense, which signals to me that I wasn’t ready to hear it then, but I am now. Progress!) I think I’ve taken in all the general advice that a person can and that the next step, which has begun in earnest this year, is putting them into practice and getting feedback that’s specific to my work. That’s the only way I can grow now — that, and just writing. That will teach me most of all.
I also consistently misspell consistently, only you can’t tell ’cause of spellcheck. *grin*
This post, and its predecessor and successor, were inspired by this blogpost over at Routines for Writers. Check it out! But come back tomorrow for Part 3.
And, as promised, your virtual cookie — check out SEINQUOTE, where brilliant writing and brilliant graphic design meet in harmony … and beg to be silk-screened onto a t-shirt. Totally SFW.