Insecure Writers’ Support Group Check-In

 

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The Insecure Writer’s Support Group – Check-In for 1/8/2014:

Standard Introduction Goes Here: My name is Kathy, I’m 43 years old, I work in a call center and I’ve been writing off and on since I was 17 but making up stories and worlds and assorted oddness since I was little. I can still remember being about five years old and talking to myself before I went to sleep and having to stop when my mom would come to bed — and then there was that magical day I realized that I could keep talking to myself when she came to sleep if I just started talking to myself inside my own head. Mind. Blown.

I wrote off and on during my teens and twenties, never really finishing anything or pursuing my goals as hard as I could/should have.   Well, not entirely true, there were a couple finished stories which were not good.  It wasn’t until about eight years ago when I got interested in writing Transformers fanfics that I started producing complete works and getting real feedback about my writing and gaining some real confidence.

In 2007, I tried Nanowrimo for the first time and didn’t win but did at least get a chunk of work done. Original work, which made me happy because finishing and eventually selling an original work is a goal of mine.  I didn’t try Nano again until 2011 and didn’t win that time either but in 2012, I did! And this time I managed to continue to work on the project after Nano was done so that made me happy since, as my history probably illustrates, finishing is not one of my strong suits.

I went back to that same project in 2013, with the stated goal of writing a complete draft from beginning to end all the way through with no hopping around and leaving bits to be done at some ‘later time’ that never comes.  I’m still working on it, so, go me! And I’m using my involvement in A Round of Words in 80 Days to help keep me focused. So far, so good!

Insecure Writers’ Support Group:

OK, so, this is my first time posting as part of the IWSG and according to the sign-up page, we’re supposed to: Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs.  So, here we go with a list of some of my more pressing doubts and how I deal with them:

Doubt #1 I suck.  I’m a terrible writer who can’t come up with good stories to save her life. Or, at least, I can come up with story ideas but actually turning those ideas into a cohesive story is beyond my puny abilities.

How I Conquered It:  I haven’t. I don’t think any writer ever really completely gets over the fear that they suck.  Well, except for the ones who do – and more power to them! But for me, while I haven’t conquered this insecurity, I have found ways to shut it up and force it back down into a box. I remember positive feedback I’ve gotten from readers about things I’ve written. I keep in mind that right now, since I’m still an unpublished amateur working on finishing a complete project, it’s kind of expected that what I create isn’t going to be publishable straight out of the gate.  The thing to focus on now is getting words out on the page so that they can be crafted into something that doesn’t suck.

Doubt #2 I’m an uncreative leech!  The reason I liked writing fanfic so much is because it was easier to use someone else’s ideas, slap on a few superficial and highly derivative bits of my own and then blather on for a few thousand words and call it done.  Hack, thy name is me.

How I Conquered It: First things first, I like my fanfics. Well, most of them. Some of them aren’t my best work, but other ones are pretty damn good if I do say so myself. I had fun writing them and, judging by the reviews I’ve gotten, there are people who’ve had fun reading them. Or at least gotten enough enjoyment out of my writing that they took the time to give me a comment. And considering the number of complaints about lack of feedback that show up on Fanficrants, that’s got to be saying something, right?

It also helps that, since I joined A Round of Words in 80 Days and have begun talking about my original fiction ideas, I’ve gotten some positive feedback about them as well. Knowing that others find my ideas and my writing worth their time and consideration helps ease my doubts.

Doubt #3: I’m too old to be a writer! I’m nearly 44 years old and I’ve got nothing to show for the years I’ve spent writing. I’ve written a handful of original fiction stories, none of which are anything to write home about. The last time I submitted anything for publication was in the mid-1990s and nothing came of them. At this rate, I’m still going to be playing around, pretending to be a writer when I’m in my 90s and I’ll never, ever, ever have anything to show for it. Why did I waste my 20s?!

How I Conquered It: Primarily by telling myself to stop talking stupid. Ok, so I might be a bit long in the tooth to take up ballet but for writers, age ain’t nothing but a number. I can write about ballerinas. Or cowboys. Or dinosaurs. Or cowboy ballerinas who ride dinosaurs – on MARS! Because why the heck not?!

And if I want to get something finished, well, then the thing I need to focus on is actually finishing something. Funny how that works, huh? If you don’t work on something, it doesn’t get done.  It’s true for laundry; it’s true for stories. Butt in seat, pen to paper, fingers on keyboard, write, write, write! RAAAAAAH! *goes charging off like Bluto in Animal House*

Doubt #4I am woefully behind the times and out of date; I always get interested in things a few steps behind everyone else. Therefore, my ideas are all going to be dreadfully out of style by the time I’m ready to start trying to get them published. Nobody else is going to care about the things I think are cool because they’re all going to be on to the newest cool thing, leaving me behind in the dust.

How I Conquered It:  By reminding myself that I am damn near 44 years old and way too old to be worrying about whether or not I fit in with the cool kids. With a  ‘For Crying Out Loud’ tossed in for good measure.  Yes, granted, there are trends in publishing but trying to write to those trends isn’t going to make me happy – and considering the amount of work that goes into writing a book, if I’m not happy, I’m not going to do it. So, to paraphrase those stupid Apple Jacks commercials, I will write what I like.

Besides, the world of publishing has changed; there are markets and formats that didn’t exist when I first started writing. There’s a world of options out there that I can, hopefully, take advantage of.

Doubt #5: I’m too weak to do this.  Writing is hard! Why is it so hard? It’s not fair! It shouldn’t be so hard! Why can’t I just plug a cord into my brain and print out the damned stories directly? Screw jet packs and flying cars, I want a Print On Demand Brain! One that comes with some kind of graphic design function too, because I can’t draw for @#%* either. Well, except for really cartoony pictures of fish.

cartoonfish

How I Conquered It: Yeah, writing is hard – particularly when you’re writing for the consumption of others.  Stephen King has described writing as telepathy; which makes sense, you’re basically trying to take thoughts from your brain and put them into someone else’s.  So, yeah, of course that’s not going to be easy!

I’m sure artists throughout history have wanted to give up.  I’m sure the first storytellers, back in the days when all stories were new and they could literally create anything and have it be completely fresh and new, had days when they just did not want to drag themselves out to the campfire and tell stories. And the folks who worked on Stonehenge? I’m willing to bet that they had days when they didn’t want to get out of their hut and deal with those picky-picky druids who had to have everything just-so.  And it’s an established historical fact that Michelangelo didn’t want to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but saying ‘no’ to the Pope wasn’t exactly a healthy life-choice at that time.

But they did it. They told the stories and carved the stones and painted the ceiling not because they had to but because creating things made them happy. Ok, so Michelangelo did so he could work on other projects he liked better, but he still did it.  But regardless of why they did it, the enjoyment they got out of it was important. They wanted to get the ideas and the thoughts from their brains into other peoples’ brains.  And if they could do it, considering that they were also dealing with saber tooth tigers and cranky druids and insistent popes, then I can do it when my biggest obstacle is my own whinny self.  And Candy Crush.

Not to mention, that one thing that makes writing easier is actually sitting down and DOING IT instead of sitting around whining about it. I mostly write during downtime at work and on a good night, when things are particularly slow, I can manage at least a thousand words without much in the way of effort, so while I might not ever have a POD Brain, I can still at least get the words on the paper. Which is ultimately what counts.

Doubt #6: I’m wasting my time, my money and my efforts on a gamble that, likely, won’t ever pay off enough for me to recoup my investment.

How I Conquered It: Really, self? Really?! You do realize that in the last week you have spent almost an entire day watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and eating corn chips and cheese dip, right?  Exactly what investment are you getting back on that, other than a nice relaxing day watching an awesome show and enjoying some yummy cheese?  Some things you do for the money or because they’re the practical, day to day things that have to be done and some things you do for the love of them and for the joy they bring you.  If you’re lucky, sometimes you can get paid for doing the things that bring you joy but the joy should come from the doing of it, not from the getting paid part.

Doubt #7Nobody cares.  I’m all alone, sucking and faking it and being old and out of date with my weak, non-POD enabled brain of suck and fail, wasting my time howling into the abyss – in between binge-watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and playing way too much Candy Crush and Jelly Glutton on Facebook. I should give up and find a more productive way of spending my declining years.  And probably find a new show to binge-watch since I’m running low on Phineas and Ferb episodes. Dang it…

How I Conquered It: See Doubt #1; people do care and I know it. I’ve got friends at work who talk about characters from a book I started back in 2007.  My aunt asks after my writing. My girlfriend types up research notes and background materials for me.  My declining years are still a couple decades ahead of me, so I can shut that noise up too.  And, okay so I am going to have to find a new show to binge-watch but, y’know a broken clock can be right twice a day.

If you enjoyed my post and want to read more, please, visit the other Insecure Writer’s Support Group blogs for more posts about writing.  Like Spider Robertson said, shared pain is decreased, shared joy is increased, thus we refute entropy!

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AROW80 – First Round Goals List:

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Powered by Linky Tools A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you’re interested in joining, you can visit  the above link for more information and then Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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Ok, so it’s the first round of 2014! Whoo!  I started with A Round of Words in 80 Days during the last month or so of the last round of 2013.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say that even in the short time I’ve been involved with this group, I’ve gotten some very positive benefits out of it. I’m finding that it is easier to keep a goal if I have to tell other people about it, but since there’s no pressure to reach a set word goal per day, it’s also easier to forgive myself if I don’t meet a particular goal. Being able to ‘talk’ out loud about what I’m working on and get feedback has been very helpful. If this is your first time with AROW80, welcome! For the folks I met last time, howdy again!

This will be my first full round and I’ve come up with a list of goals that I hope to be successful with this time around. Further information on these projects can be found on this post, under my Current Projects Index page.  So, with crossed fingers and a hopeful heart, here goes my list in order by the project’s current priority (the goals are not in any kind of priority order, they’re just what I think needs to be done for that project):

DEFCON: FADE OUT – Top Priority:

  • Finish writing the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out –  Since November 1st, 2013 I’ve averaged about a chapter every six days. I’m currently on Chapter 11 of a projected twenty so I’m looking at about 56 days if I can maintain the same momentum.
  • Type up the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out.  Luckily, I type about 90 words a minute so this will be fairly quick. In theory.
  • Give the typed-up draft to people to read.
  • Build a blanket fort in which to hide while draft is being read by friends so I will have a secure place in which to shake like a Chihuahua standing on Jello during an earthquake from nerves.
  • Complete Character Checklists for all of my POV characters and major secondary characters. This is something I should have done a while ago, but I find that characters tend to create themselves while I write. (I’ve got a whole word document full of links various checklists for character creation and worldbuilding to choose from, thankfully).
  • Complete a couple other worldbuilding checklists for things that have an impact on the series as a whole.  Ditto that these should have been done earlier but c’est la vie.
  • Begin plotting out books 1-3 and 5 and figuring out what other sorts of checklists I might need to complete for them.

GEM CITY: — Secondary Priority:

  • Type up drafts of stories currently residing in my thinky thoughts book.
  • Complete Character Checklists for main characters, especially William Cartwright, the Shamus Who Has No Shame.
  • Complete Species and Religion Checklist for the Deros
  • Plot out at least one story set in this ‘verse.

BUTCHERS’ BILL – Tertiary priority; probably going to be held over to Round 2:

  • Print out original drafts and give it a read over, see what can be salvaged and create a scene inventory.
  • Complete Species Creation Checklist for vampires so I can establish the rules for what they can and cannot do in this ‘verse.
  • Complete Character Checklists for main characters (sensing a trend, are we?)
  • Plot out book incorporating some new ideas I’ve had for the plot
  • Look into potential research sources for new plot ideas.

KINSTEALER – Back Burner: This idea still needs to percolate since currently there’s not much to it than a bunch of very nebulous thoughts and concepts.  I’m considering writing this one as a Young Adult novel, but I’m not sure. We’ll see how things go.  As should be expected, a variety of checklists need to be finished for this ‘verse.  

 OTHER GOALS:  

  • Complete individual project pages
  • Read the books on writing that I got for myself
  • Not freeze during the cold snap that’s lasting until Tuesday around here.

OTHER STUFF OF INTEREST:

  • I joined WANA — anybody else a member?

AROW80 Check-in for November 27, 2013

Introduction, Part Two: Electric Boogaloo: (cheesy, I know but does it help that I did see both Breakin’ movies in the theater back in the day?)

I bit the bullet and switched over to a WordPress blog because for one thing, it seems to be the most popular option among folks in the challenge and for another, it looks like a better way to get feedback than Tumblr.  I’ll probably get around to deleting the Tumblr blog I started eventually. But if it’s still there in 2016, don’t be surprised.

So, since this is kinda/sorta a fresh start, I’m going to introduce myself again.  My name is Kathy, I’m 43 years old, I work in a call center and I’ve been writing off and on since I was 17 but making up stories and worlds and assorted oddness since I was little. I can still remember being about five years old and talking to myself before I went to sleep and having to stop when my mom would come to bed — and then there was that magical day I realized that I could keep talking to myself when she came to sleep if I just started talking to myself inside my own head. Mind. Blown.

I also owe my cousin Kate a debt of gratitude for getting tired of me, at 12, saying “One day, I’m going to write a story about…*insert blathering about characters and situations*” and telling me, “Why don’t you DO IT THEN?!” with all the wisdom of her then-ten year old self. Thanks Kate! You are the reason I now know that it’s possible to make a notebook go football shaped if you insert enough Post-it notes into it!

My current project is the fourth book in what will eventually be a five book series.  It started off as the first book in the series but somehow has managed to morph into the fourth book.  Has anybody else ever had this happen?  Because it’s freaking me out a little bit that once I finish this book I need to write three more to get caught up. Though, I at least have a better idea of what’s going to happen in those books and most of the heavy lifting as far as worldbuilding has been done so it’ll be easier to slip into those worlds and only do the research that will be specific to their plots.

The working title for my current project is Defcon: Fade Out.  I outlined what it was about in my first check-in, so I’m going to reproduce that here:

 For the past few years, I’ve been working on a novel series set in a world where, in 1983, a nuclear war was accidentally sparked by a massive asteroid strike in the Kamchatka Peninsula in the former Soviet Union. The series takes place at various points in time after the nuclear war and follows a group of characters through the slow process of recovery. The general idea behind the series was to create a world that harkened back to the spirit of the old post-apocalyptic men’s adventure novels of the 1980s that I used to read and enjoy when I was a kid — but without the racism, sexism and other massive amounts of fail that make me cringe upon rereading them as an adult.

This project is a chance for me to write the kind of books I wish (now) that I could have read back then and also a chance for me to play around with my own love-hate nostalgia for the 1980s and the Cold War.

What I’m Thankful For, As a Writer, This Year:

  •  A girlfriend who supports me, even when I’m not so supportive of myself
  • Pilot G-2 pens and all the various colors they come in. Also graph paper notebooks.
  • Having finally struck upon a writing system that seems to work well for me and that provides both structure and flexibility.  And the necessity of multi-colored sticky notes
  • Multi-colored sticky notes. Also, graph paper sticky notes.
  • Pretty much graph paper anything. For some reason, it is extremely fun to write on.
  • That Stanislav Petrov was at work on September 26, 1983.

Goals For This Go-Round: Right now, these are pretty much all writing-related.

  •  Finish Defcon: Fade Out in its entirety from beginning to end.  What I have so far is essentially a very patchy collection of scenes that need to be tied together.  So, I’m currently trying to write the book out in order, following an outline and patching the scenes I have together with scenes I’m writing.  So far, I’m at five chapters written and have just started on chapter six!  And I’m averaging about a chapter a week so, yay!
  • Keep track of the plot holes and research questions that have popped up while I’m writing and do whatever research/plotting work necessary to turn this book into what I want it to be.
  • Put some (more) work into detailing the plots for the first three books, since they have an impact on the events in Defcon: Fade Out.
  • Put some work into figuring out ideas for the three other projects that have been on the back burner/recently come up thanks to some weird dreams.  These include:
    • A book about 3rd shift vampire hunters — they work 3rd shift as vampire hunters, rather than hunting vampires who are 3rd shifters.  This one, much like my current project, is in a state of being patchily written and needs something of an overhaul.
    • A story about a Reverse Batman-type character — his parents were supervillains in the 1960 who were killed by a rogue hero and because of this, he now works as a private detective doing things like keeping superheroes accountable and such.  He’s also the guy you call when you want to serve divorce papers on The Thing. This might end up as a series of short stories.  I’ve got a few scenes written and some supporting characters in mind.
    • A story about a scruffy space pirate-type guy who helps fight Cthulu-like aliens and who annoys the other space pirates by flaunting one of the basic rules of their society.  This one plays on my enjoyment of classic space opera-style SF like C.L. Moore’s Northwest Smith stories, Edmond Hamilton’s Starwolf trilogy of books and Alan E. Nourse’s Raiders from the Rings – among others.This one has a scene written and is still needing to be noodled with.

Other Things I am Thankful For This Year:

  • My girlfriend and her love and support
  • My family and friends and their love and support
  • Being in a good place in my life.

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