Blog Stuff, Fiction, Goals, Novel, Publish, Writing

Three months in and how’s it going?

Yes, I know it’s not exactly the end of February, but it’s close enough. We’re chipping away at 2011. One fourth, twenty-five percent, of the year is gone. Whether you made formal New Year’s resolutions or just had vague hopes for this year, how are you doing so far?

I like the idea of a fresh start. Of course, years of our lives never begin without the baggage of the years before. But we can set new goals each year. My first 2011 writing goal was actually a publishing goal, and I’m on-track to accomplish that.

Making a serious dent in writing my next novel is my second goal. I’d like to say I could write, edit, and have it polished by the end of the year, but I’m not sure that’s a realistic goal. I don’t know how publishing Brevity will affect my writing life.

I’ll also be a partner in a new writing blog. It’s top secret right now, so I can’t give specifics, but you’ll hear all about it soon. My obligation to that will be a weekly post and commenting. And since I’ve sort of stumbled off the path on my own blog posting and commenting, that will be a challenge.

But challenges are good. Goals are good. Moving forward, even if at tiny baby steps, is good. So now …

Your turn: How is 2011 going for you so far?


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Advice, Craft, Family, Fiction, Goals, Tips, Writing

How my anniversary led to a writing epiphany!

I don’t often mention him here, but I do have a husband, and today is our wedding anniversary. Which one? Well … let’s just say it’s closer to Golden than Silver. My husband tells me his co-workers can’t believe he’s still married to his first wife. I was thinking about that yesterday when I realized I could relate it to writing. You’re not surprised, are you?

We married young—way too young—and, on the surface, we had little in common. (He’s not even a reader. *gasp*) But the most important thing we shared was the concept of marriage as a commitment, not an experiment. We had some very rough times, times when the temptation to give up appeared like a key to the Promised Land. “This is too hard. This is not what I wanted. This is insane.” At times, that was a daily litany, but always we kept going. We had a commitment we would try our best to honor.

Can you see how this applies to writing?

Everything I wrote before the last two years was only an experiment. Could I do it? Would it make sense? Would I like it? Then, for what reason I may never know, my purpose for writing changed. On the lowest level, I could say I just switched “I” to they in that last question. Would anyone else enjoy my writing? That’s still an experiment, you say. Ah yes, but almost immediately my attitude toward writing also changed.

No longer was it enough to see if I could write something a theoretical They might like. I had committed to learning how to write so the well-read They would like it. I committed to learning the craft of writing. I committed to learning the whats and whys and whens of writing so the quality of my work would depend on skill rather than luck.

Quite often since then, my writing litany has echoed my marriage litany –writing/editing/querying/whatever is too hard, it’s not what I expected, why am I doing this? Then I remind myself nothing worthwhile comes easy; those authors whose work I admire worked long and hard to produce it. Writing is not an experiment; writing is a commitment. And it’s another one I’m determined to honor.


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Author, Dream, Fiction, Goals, Motivation, Musings, My Books, Novel, Publish, Reader, Words, Writing

The why of want

I want to be published. I really want to be published. I talk about it. I dream about it. I fantasize about it. I hope, pray, and wish on stars for it. Below is what I wrote in the small notebook I carry in my purse:

“It is 2:49 pm on Wednesday, 21 April, 2010 and as I sit in a McDonald’s Playland full of squealing children I feel certain I will be a published author.”

Yes, I want to be published. I don’t care about fame, in fact I’d just as soon not have that. Money would be nice, but that’s not my motivation. I want validation. I want to know that all the time I spend writing has a better purpose than avoidance of housework. I want my words to mean something to someone besides me.

I have no illusions of grandeur. I’m fully aware that nothing I write is important. It has no power to change the world. It will never be studied in a classroom. Yet it could transport readers into a time, place, or circumstance other than their own for a while, and there is worth in that. To see through another’s eyes, feel through another’s heart, think through another’s mind has purpose. I want someone to experience this through my words. I want to share the stories given to me.

I want to be published.

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Advice, Fiction, Goals, Novel, Poetry, Publish, Questions, Short story, Tips, Writing

What is your writing worth?

Today, I’m thinking I should add another post category called Reality Check. But that might be too discouraging—to me as well as you. Even though I’ve been querying my novel for a while, it took Duotrope to make me say, “What was I thinking?”

I made my decision to seek publication in ignorance. I had no idea how hard reaching my goal would be because I had no idea how many other writers would be in competition with me. Now I know—there are at least a gazillion. And half of them are better writers than I am.

My goal this year was to see a story I’d written published, so I‘ve been using Duotrope to search for magazines I think might accept my work. No easy task that. I can eliminate those who only publish sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, erotica, western, etc. It’s just as easy to weed out some others by their rejection rates. If their acceptance rate is in the single digits—or less—I don’t even bother. Many of those magazines publish well-established authors; what chance do I have against the Joyce Carol Oates of the world?

Duotrope shows a description for each magazine, usually taken from their own website, and often I read this description and think the magazine sounds perfect for my work. Then, I go to the site and read samples of what they publish and my hopes are dashed. It’s either completely different in style or tone from what I write, or “too literary,” or “too amateur.” So those are more mags I can ignore.

So now, I’ve established what magazines I need not apply to, but how do I choose among the rest? One big question is whether I want to receive payment for my story or poem. Of course, searching for magazines that pay even a token amount turns up many I’ve already crossed off. And if my search term is “semi-pro and up” I’m going to see a lot of those names I’ve put on my too-elite-for-me list.

Do I need to receive payment to feel good about having a story or poem published? What if a magazine’s acceptance rate is over fifty percent? Some show over ninety percent! How would I feel about being published in one of those magazines?

I think to answer those questions, I have to ask another. Why do I write? It’s clearly no longer for my own entertainment or I wouldn’t be querying agents with a novel. I want my work to be read. But do I only want to be read? By how many people? If I don’t care about payment, and I don’t care how many people—or who—reads it, why not just publish on my blog? What is my writing worth to me? Questions, questions, questions.

Do you have an opinion to share?

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Creativity Workshop, Goals, Group, Social Media, Writing

She Writes and She Updates

Another brief post and more questions for you today. At least I haven’t resorted to  repeating posts from last year.

Okay then, topic of the day is She Writes. I joined this group within the first week of its inception … and then I pretty much forgot about it. This morning, I read that it will celebrate its one-year anniversary later this month, and I started wondering how many of you might also be members. If you are, I have some questions for you:

  • Are you an active member?
  • If you are, what exactly does active mean?
  • What benefits have you received from She Writes?
  • In other words, what am I missing out on?

Now, for a brief update on my Creativity Workshop progress. My goal this week was to write the fourth, and last, poem for my first set of goals. This week’s poem was to depict Autumn as a middle-aged woman—the second half of motherhood. So, on Monday I compiled a list of appropriate words and phrases. Then, a life situation derailed me for the next three days, and I resigned myself to marking this week as a fail. But on Friday morning, as I sat in the cool of my backyard with a cup of ginger tea in hand, words started aligning themselves. Autumn spoke to me for a while, and then I came in and wrote the poem. It’s in prose form. I’m not completely satisfied with it, but I’m grateful I got something written this week.

From this first set, I learned that I can write a poem on demand, possibly of the same quality as my other poems … of course, that’s not saying much! 😀 I also discovered that there is far more to learn about writing poetry than I imagined. I have a new level of admiration for those who are able to write a poem that moves me.

The next set of goals, is to write four short stories. Originally, these four were to be horror or psychological suspense, but I don’t want to be thinking dark thoughts right now. My last set was to be four stories centered on the theme of place, so I’m switching the order.

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