Friday, June 21, 2013

That Fine Line?

I'm a perfectionist. But I'm also easily excited and can get over-eager when it comes to my writing. I want every book that I write to be absolutely perfect. But I want people to read it NOW!

In all honesty, I'm not sure where I am with this manuscript. I know I'm close to finished, and I know I have to do line-by-line edits. But I have this nagging feeling that there are a few minor tweaks that need to take place to the story to enhance the overall development of the book. At the moment, I'm just not sure where to start.

My beta readers helped out a lot. Following up with their notes will definitely improve the book. But I'm almost done making changes based on their comments.

It's difficult, sometimes, to walk that fine line between working a project to death and making it the best it can be before biting the bullet and sending it out. I want hundreds of people to read through it to confirm my suspicion that it's ready to go. But if I had hundreds of people eager to read this book, that would be confirmation enough that I should send it out to agents.

I know today I'm being ridiculous. Sometimes I lose site of the big picture. And I'm also stoked about this book. As I've said before, it is by far the best thing I've ever written. I want it to be great. Awesome. Fantastic. And marketable.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Swingin' With the Punches

There's always a reason to procrastinate. As an unpaid writer with a nearly-fulltime job, I'm tired a lot. As a husband who loves his wife and loves spending time with her, I'm busy. A lot. The fact of the matter is, I have legitimate reasons not to sit down and write. Every day something else comes up that could allow me to say, "You know what? I think I'll just wait until tomorrow."

For that matter, I started this post early this morning. I'm so tired from a long day at work that I was tempted postpone this entry to Friday. And my EXTREMELY legitimate reason was that I need to work on my book. But I still think this blog is important, too. Especially when I get the opportunity to interact with all of you.

So when I'm tired every morning, and my wife wants to cuddle, it would be very easy to pull the covers over my head and stay put until it's time to go to work. I have deadlines, though. Sure, they're still deadlines that I set for myself, but they're important if I want to continue to move forward with my writing.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, every time you have time to write, take advantage of it. Doesn't matter how you FEEL, just do it. Eventually, you'll be able to work through just about any rough patch.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fame?

On Monday, I spoke of goals. One goal I want to caution against is Fame. Fame, in-and-of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. And WANTING fame isn't necessarily bad, either. But pursuit of fame can lead to disappointment, heartbreak, disillusionment, bitterness, and pride. Not the good pride, either. There's nothing wrong with pride in a job well-done.

I know this from personal experience. And I almost gave up on my writing several times because of it. I daydreamed all the time about becoming a famous author, spending all of my free time traveling the world with my family, spending money willy-nilly, and hanging out on the sets of TV shows to discuss my new masterpiece. I knew it was unlikely, but I figured that the smallest possibility made it worth daydreaming about.

Then, with every rejection, every change needed on my manuscript, I grew angry. I'd been told that my writing was good by people who had no reason to lie. People who couldn't care less if I got "hurt" by their honesty (I never did, by the way). So I let it go to my head and whined about "my turn" and "what's wrong with my book?"

Even then I was wise enough to at least assume that agents and editors know the market and the quality of someone's writing better than I did. So I did hold the responsibility solely on my shoulders.

Then something funny happened: I read my book one more time, fixed it as much as possible, and sent it out to an agent who seemed VERY interested. And I got a rejection. It made me feel free! I didn't have to work on that book again. It wasn't a BAD book, but it wasn't very good.

But I'd written a short story that I enjoyed quite a bit. And my critique group got really irritated with me for leaving it as a short story. But I took that universe, created new characters, and wrote a new book. The one I'm working on now.

I remembered why I started writing. It's because I love it. And I want to write high-quality books for young readers. There are so many high-quality books in the marketplace for the YA audience that that makes my job very difficult. And it's a challenge toward which I'm striving. I may get famous some day. But it's unlikely. What's more important is that I'm pursuing the best possible book I could ever write. As of this moment, I can say definitively that I have never written something this good. How it stands up to other novels is yet to be judged and will be left to agents, editors, and ultimately, the reading public.

But fame isn't my goal. And I'm happier for it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Know Your Goals

When sitting down to plan out a career, it's important to have a set of goals to work for. Those goals may change as you move closer to them, but it's important, none-the-less, to find out where you want to go. Otherwise you could spend your life chasing an intangible "perfect future" that will never come, which leads to frustration, discontentedness, and eventual depression.

As a writer, one of my goals is, obviously, to get published. I've known people who opted to take the self-pub rout to reach that goal, and they work their butts off to make that a successful venture for their careers. That can be a very tough path, and I have a lot of respect for anyone who can put out a high-quality book without the support network of the "publishing industry."

But, as of right now, that path isn't for me. Which makes writing a high-quality book my first, immediate goal, followed closely by getting an agent. I've discussed this before, so I won't bore anyone with the detail.

From there, I know the next step is to pursue publication through traditional publishing houses, then write a new book and repeat.

There are "big dream" types of goals I would LIKE to reach, but I see those as a possible result of doing the best work I possibly can and not the end to which I strive. Getting on a bestseller list would be great, and getting my book made into a movie would be awesome. Having people cosplay as my characters is fun to think about. But those are side effects of my actual goal.

And that's to build an audience. An audience who enjoys my stories enough to tell their friends to read them, too. And their parents. And teachers. And children. The desired result from that goal? Not fame or glory or riches. I simply want to replace my income. That's going to take a LOT of work, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up having a part time job for a decade or more after I get my first contract. But writing full time is my "big dream." In the grand scheme of things, I'm not asking for much. I'm not a lawyer or doctor or engineer with a high income. I haven't "grown accustomed" to a "certain standard of living" (and I'm sorry that this turned into a Chris Farley sketch). In fact, after two years without a smart phone and five years without cable, I think there are many things in my life that I would gladly REMOVE from my budget. But that's a tangent I don't need to follow.

Anyway: I recognize that my goal is big. And it may take years and years to get there. For that matter, my kids, who haven't even been conceived yet, may be out of school by the time I reach that goal. And that's fine. Right now, I'm focussing on reaching the next step. And I'm not frustrated by constantly-moving goalposts. They may move when I get an agent. Heck, they may move by the end of this year. But I'll never know if I simply stop pursuing them.

So what are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish in your life? And what are you willing to give up to reach those goals. More importantly, which goals would you abandon to seek even better ones?

Friday, June 07, 2013

Cold Death

Cold wind rushed past the tall woman's ears, whipping silver hair about her face. She scowled and pulled up the hood of her cloak. "Three hours," she screamed. "That's what you told me."

The wind whistled in reply. Bare tree branches waved at a gray sky. She took a step forward and crunched last night's snow, caked and refreezing after the unseasonably warm morning. "Are you going to show yourself?" she snapped.

"Should I?" The voice slithered between the trees, gliding over the breeze like an oily serpent. "Seven years ago you said the very sight of me made you ill."

It did. That would never change. But the knife hidden in the palm of her hand cried for blood. She couldn't disappoint it. "Please," she said, trying to sound supplicant. Seductive.

Black mist swirled from behind the tree right in front of her. She held her breath, ready to throw the knife. The mist gathered, growing stronger. He would appear in seconds, a tall creature, black and oily, anxious to suck her soul away.

The mist solidified. One more heartbeat. Her arm tensed. She shifted her stance.

And then fire blossomed in her spine. The greasy voice whispered in her ear. "I know your heart, my pet. And it will never be free."

Darkness descended. And the knife fell to the earth.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Random Non-Update

I planned on putting together a coherent post that discussed something important or relevant. Instead, I spent my lunch working on my book. And that's what I'm doing with my free time this evening, too. So see you Friday, and we'll see if I get something up. Maybe a short story, or something.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Charity of the Month: Salvation Army Tornado Relief Fund

We've all heard of the disasters in Oklahoma over the past month. Relief is slow to come, and recovery is going to be a relative term. But I would like to ask everyone to stop by the Salvation Army page to donate a few bucks to help the victims.

As a reminder to anyone who may be new to this site, I never feature a charity without contributing myself, so rest assured that I'm not asking anything of anyone that I haven't already done.

Have a great week.