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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writing Wibbles

In the words of the immortal Thing, it’s wibblin’ time!

Like most writers, I tend to run hot and cold on my own work. On one hand, perhaps more often than warranted, I think I’ve got a set of pretty good stories in the pipeline. People who read them have positive things to say about them; all they need is some cleanup and I’ll be smokin’ up the charts on Amazon.

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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).
  3. See if the other tenor at church, who has some editing chops, wants to make a pass through it.
  4. Format it and get it uploaded before I have a chance to change my mind!
  5. 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.


  1. I'm no stranger to writer's angst. Your interpretation of it seems spot on.

    Congratulations on the story!

  2. I am the Queen of Writer's Angst! I have the crown and it's a damned thorny hat! Congrats on Assignation! A big WOOT coming your way! I also got a positive e-mail from BOFF2 so our stories will be cozied up together in their papery bed. Isn't it exciting?

  3. Oh, I know Writer's Angst pretty well myself. We're old friends who go way back.

    Congrats on Assignation! That is quite a boost that should help you power through all the other writing and editing. Have a great day!

    @ScribblingTaryn in the Twitterverse

  4. This: "See, even in self-deprecation I’m only mediocre!" is genius.

  5. Larry, congratulations on your story's acceptance to Best of FridayFlash (Vol. 2) anthology !

  6. Well I have writers angst, I enjoy writing then the "is it good enough" thoughts start bombarding me. Still I still post them and hope they are liked.

    Congratulations on BOFF2 I'm afraid mine was one of the rejected ones, never mind next time eh! ^_^

  7. Far, I must say that I enjoyer reading the serial version of White Pickups here at TFM. I would be happy to purchase/read the followup. As to writer's angst, I know the feeling well, just not for writing. I've had to recently reevaluate my work and plan to proceed with things a bit differently. BTW, I haven't forgotten about the art I was going to do for you. Things have been a bit crazy for me lately.

  8. Thanks Tony! I'm not as public with mine as some, but I definitely do feel it…

    Cathy, congrats on making the cut too! I know a couple of folks, whose writing I respect a whole lot, who didn't make it. (like Helen)

    Taryn, I'm a good fourth of the way through now, but have only indicated places that need work rather than actually *doing* the work. The "fun" begins when I get to the last page.

    Thanks much, Tim & Rachel!

    Helen, I don't pretend to know what criteria helped determine what stories got in and which didn't, but I know I treated it seriously from the beginning.

    Boran, I do enjoy your artwork in progress. It's lots of fun to see how the paintings develop… and I was about to poke you about the cover art. I do know how cRaZy things can get (of course, I live in a free-range insane asylum)!

  9. "...Then there’s the other hand..."

    You make it sound balanced - and it may even be, for some. I'm an optimist, right down to the very core of my being. Except about my writing. There, things are on much shakier ground.

    I'm glad you're pushing through with your work. Those Amazon charts await!

    Congrats on the acceptance for BOFF Vol 2.


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