Then there’s the other hand — what I call writer angst, for lack of a better term. “My writing’s crap, my stories are crap, my ideas (writing and otherwise) are crap. Why am I even bothering with this?” I was going to say I’m particularly susceptible to this phase, but (judging from what I hear from others) I’m neither unique nor particularly notable in that regard. (See, even in self-deprecation I’m only mediocre!)
I have two equal and opposite theories about writer angst:
- One, it’s a necessary prod to improve, whether that means a particular story or writing in general. Once through the woe, I can pick up the work and set about making it better.
- Two, it’s an excuse to be lazy. If I can convince myself that the work is crap, beyond redemption, then I have an excuse to avoid the hard work of making it better. If I can convince myself that I’m wasting my time writing, I could move on to non-writing projects (that I will also shelve as crap later on).
Often, perhaps more often than not, the angst turns out to be unwarranted. Last year, I submitted Assignation to the Best of FridayFlash (Vol. 2) anthology. I edited it, had Brooke Johnson critique it, edited it a little more, then sent it off. And started second-guessing myself immediately. When months went by with no word, and about a dozen stories (not mine) were listed in a “Reader’s Choice” poll, I assumed the worst. But Monday morning, I got an email to let me know it had been accepted! Emergent Publishing is handling publishing and distribution; I’ll let you know more when I know more.
The boost couldn’t have come at a better time, in my opinion. I’ve been doing a ton and a half of second-guessing about White Pickups lately: should I cut it (and the sequel) down to one novel? should I just dump it entirely and focus on the current shiny writing thing? or just give up altogether? And what about… Mary Lou?
The boost from one little email has reinforced a couple of blog comments I’ve received lately… in short, White Pickups is in no danger of finding a permanent home in the drawer. I’m drafting an action plan to get it out of the garage (so to speak) and then finish Pickups and Pestilence. In short:
- Print out the whole book, giving my old laser printer a thorough workout. (done, and I finally figured out what to do with that ream of pre-punched paper)
- Edit with an eye to fixing (if nothing else) one major issue I’ve heard from two beta readers. If that leads to combining the two books into one, so be it (but I don’t think that’s going to happen at this point).
- See if the other tenor at church, who has some editing chops, wants to make a pass through it.
- Format it and get it uploaded before I have a chance to change my mind!
- After a few months, have a “typo hunt” contest, then roll out a second eBook edition and a paperback.
As for finishing Pickups and Pestilence, I should do what I did with both White Pickups and FAR Future: write past the place I’m having trouble with and fill in the in-between when I figure it out. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll have the same problem with Book 2 that I have with Book 1.
By the time I get all that done, I might know how Accidental Sorcerers continues… and maybe I can get the Wings trilogy started too.