Tag Archives: success

Intimidated Part 2

Continuation from here and here.

I’ve struggled for years with the idea of being good enough. That stretched into this blog, especially when I was updating it more frequently. Inevitably, I found people who were doing so much better than I was and they were putting in less effort.

I never really found out what pulled people into those blogs. What was I doing differently? What wasn’t I doing?

And it’s a maddening process in its own. I know I’ve spoken at length in many different posts about not comparing yourself to others and how the ladder you have to climb could vary from someone else’s. Shorter, longer, thinner, wider. What they do with their style and their words is much different from what you can do with yours.

With a fresh fear of failure, I’ve spent years being passed over any time I’ve tried to put myself out there. Things I thought I was a shoe in for, I’ve been rejected for other, more talented people.

But in spite of how much I’ve seen rejection, both in my searches for a job, and for my writing, I have a strong confidence in my stories. Whether it’s well founded or not is to be seen. Though I believe I’ve got decent skills, I’m shown time and time again that not many people probably feel the same.

Still, it doesn’t stop me from feeling a surge of need whenever I see others getting published, whether its on their own or through publishing companies.

I feel like I can do it, too, and have decent success. But if I can’t get many people to read a blog, then what good am I going to have with a book? Hell, what kind of luck would I even have on a bigger platform like Wattpad, for that matter?

This is just me beating a dead horse. Expressing fears I’ve had and voices before. That I want to keep trying, but I’m afraid of being hit on the wrist and told no. Of being shown that my writing isn’t actually as good as I think it is, but rather poor.

Someone I “work” with (I volunteer at the organization she works at), has been working on a novel that’s been such a pleasure for her to write. Her excitement is just absolutely infectious, and even when she’s just starting to get it cleaned up, she’s already thinking about publishing. She doesn’t care what it yields, she just wants it, and I wish that vigor followed me.

I guess I have to regard all processes with the same attitude: Go for it, no matter what the outcome is. Just enjoy it.

But I can’t deny the need to be recognized. To feel like I’ve reached people and they enjoy what I’ve written just as much. Part of me still feels like I’m doomed to be in the background and that my work isn’t worth the attention.

I’ve also had the inevitable, “Well, everyone loved Twilight and 50 Shades, why shouldn’t I be given some time?”

To their credit, both of those stories are easy to read and have a broad, easy message to understand. They’re easy to devour, to get into, if you can ignore the repetition and spelling mistakes and stiffness of the writing.

As competitive as fuck as I am, it’s hard for me to say it’s simply for enjoyment, but I am trying. I know better than to have expectations, but I can’t help that hopefulness that’s burned inside of me since day one. To be seen, recognized, and celebrated.

Whatever this burst of confidence brings, though, at least I’ll have tried. Right?

The Novice Wordsmith

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Crossing the Finish Line

First of all: Holy shit. I just finished my first novel ever.

This past November had rough parts, but overall it has turned out to be not only my most productive, but my most successful as well. I wrote the epilogue and final words to the novel this morning at 4:30 am.

After pushing myself through with the mantra of, “Just get it done, edit later, don’t worry about anything but getting through the chapter, you know what you want to happen,” I reached the finish line, almost a whole month later.

I kept meaning to post about NaNo during Nano, but it never happened. I mean to do so many things for this month that I didn’t get to on the blog. I wanted to keep encouraging everyone and give progress updates and say awesome things and show off things I’d found through the Facebook group for my Wrimo region, there was so much on my mind, but I had just kept diving into the novel further.

Which is the right thing for me to have done anyway, but again I find myself looking back at how I push myself and causing undue stress because of my ambition.

Either way, I muscled my way through to a finished first draft and I couldn’t be happier. I only hit 85k at the end of the month, 5k off from my personal best, but overall this was a much more successful time than any others.

I’m ecstatic that I finally finished something. That I had finally forced myself to stay on task and get through to the finish line like I had written about so many months before. It is an incredible feeling to know you can finish something, like reading a huge book and looking back and saying, “you know what? I did that.”

And I did. And all it takes is to push through. Shove away the thoughts that it’s not good enough. You’ll get to it later, there’s always the chance that you can go back and fix it when the time comes, but what’s most important, always, is to get to the end. Find a first draft. Make mistakes. Screw up. Make epiphanies to new hooks and ideas and go back and work on them later, but do it, at all.

The hardest part will always be getting through the initial stages. Do not work for perfection, just work. Think about the ideas and get to them. “Just so many more chapters or words until I get to this,” and keep setting goals, mini goals, things you can reach for.

It is so satisfying to look back at what I wrote and to know that I managed to get all of my ideas and visuals out on a document.

I remember getting discouraged about Friend pushing past me in a blaze of glory last year and the year before. “I should be hitting 100k too,” or “I should be at what you’re at,” and his response was the same: “I’ve been doing this far longer than you have.”

You aren’t going to get it on the first try, but that does not mean that you are not going to get it at all. It takes crap attempts and bad months and really shitty drafts, but you’ll eventually find what makes it through to the end.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that an erotica was the first thing I finished. It was the first time I had written a novel for that genre, and I enjoyed writing every word of it. Well, almost, some were more boring than others, but it was still an incredibly fun experience for me. Something new and it turned out to be the spark to a fire I hadn’t discovered yet.

But everything takes time. It’ll take time to hone your skills and get better at writing and developing a style. It takes time to learn how you work and how you build characters. You have to figure out how you work and then find something that works with how you do.

Still, I know it’s not as easy as saying just that, but seeing someone say it helps. If you’re like me, not being the best can be discouraging. Just remember to keep your chin up and worry about what’s on your screen, not anyone else’s, and eventually, you’ll get where you need or want to be.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Exposure

Something happens every time I join a website or start a writing project: I start to think about getting my work out there. Sharing more often, submitting it to places, finding a way to get it out there. There’s something about seeing other people succeed in getting the interest of others, and the quality writing all around, that makes me want to do more and go farther.

Then, rejection happens, or I realize that I’m not half as popular as I thought I would be, or as others. That I’m just sort of another cogwheel in the great scheme of things that gets overlooked because my work is hardly different or groundbreaking.

It is, however, my work. My sentence structure, how I write, the language I use, the tones and the feel of everything I go through in passages, that’s mine. That is unique to every writer, it’s something you seek out in an author. To be able to so easily dive into the book and its atmosphere and the protagonist and their troubles, to be in another world, whether it’s wildly out of this galaxy, or it has few differences.

There are many ways to get your work out in the world, depending on what it is you write. Websites and anthologies seek people to write anything from erotica to horror, fan fiction, non fiction, and news.

Last year, Friend and I submitted works to Crossed Genres web magazine, that specializes in minority characters and settings as the mains in non-stereotypical fashion. Another friend had gotten into freelance journalism for a major website. I was shown a website that was a database for erotica, where someone had written a 40+ chapter story and was still going. Forums exist for the purpose of sharing your writing an collaborating with others.

There will always be a way for you to showcase your art, so to speak. The real question is if that’s something you want to do.

A common reiteration is that you can still make money off of your writing. You can make it free and accessible, or you can go through self publishing, or even finding a publisher to take you on.  Whether it’s a buck a book, that can be anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 words, or up to four dollars for a full novel, there’s a market to be taken advantage of.

Anthologies and web magazines, in my limited experience, have also paid for the work they use of yours. Crossed Genres offered six cents a word, I believe, and for any novels that they decided to take on, 6,000 for the entire thing.

Whether you’re paid for the work or not, the outcome is roughly the same: people see your talent. One is guaranteed to reach more people than the other. For free work, you can be lost in the stacks with hundreds of others. With work you’re paid for, you’re up at the front of the line.

Exposure comes in many flavors. Through the years, I have only felt like writing prose, and novels, fiction, have been harder to get recognition with than painting or drawing, because of the average attention span. If they see something they like in a glimpse, it’s easier, but making someone sit down for anything a hundred words or longer can be a task.

Which is why a thesis or grabbing statement can be so important. You’re tasked with making it as interesting as possible to hook them in and then the rest will follow.

Even something so much as this blog, which was made expressly to get my knowledge out while maybe getting some to see my talent for writing, is dependent a lot on an excerpt, typically right at the top of the post.

In the same vein, somewhat, is having a Twitter account, and getting into social media as a writer. According to a shortlived friend I had who was also an author, having a presence in social media helps your chances with publishers, because they see that you already have a bit of a following.

It can be tricky. I started this blog expecting not much, but even a small gathering of people who decide they like my stuff enough to follow me is a great accomplishment, honor, and flattery. I know I write well, but to write something that people like is a great feat, just as well. My track record for people liking my work, or what I have to say, or what I do, has been shoddy, so I usually end up expecting very little, and when trying new ways of getting it seen,  discouragement follows frequently.

It seems more likely, considering that, that I’ll end up like many others: only a couple thousand copies sold and then promptly dropped by the publisher.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try, of course. It’s always going to be worth it, but it’s easier to go in with the understanding that the road ahead will not be easy and to brace yourself for the bumps, however many or few they are.

– The Novice Wordsmith

(PS: Happy Easter for those celebrating!)

Preparation

The last two months before November are known as “crunch time” for me, and for Friend, for National Novel Writing Month, and trying to figure out just what we want to write. Dedicating 30 days and as far over 50,000 words as we can manage isn’t so tough when we can find an idea we love.

Unfortunately, this year’s decision is a lot harder than it was last year, which took me all of a day to figure out before I started a three-four month process on outlining and working out other little details that would shape the novel. So now, after having one NaNo success under my belt, I have other little ideas that are waiting for me to write them out, and I’m not sure which one I want to go with.

Friend doesn’t have too much preparation that he does in comparison. We flesh out ideas and brainstorm and figure some things out, but for the most part, everything remains in his head until November, and then it all gets let loose. I envy that, to a point, but I’m very much a planner in my own right.

I have to know what I’m going to write a little less than I did last year. The year before was my first  year committing, and I didn’t make it. After making it, I have an idea of what to do and expect of a successful month.

It reminds me of something he mentioned the other day. Someone he knows, knows someone who’s done NaNoWriMo for seven years, and what they loved most about it was that it’s practice, and it’s helping them get better, that they can see the progress they’re making.

That’s what I love about November, that at the core, it’s meant to help you, to throw you into thirty days of writing as much as possible and not let you come up for air until the first of December.

It equates to hard and heavy training: If you haven’t been writing all year round, having a full month of daily writing will shape your writing in ways you haven’t seen before. Just as well, if you don’t exercise much daily, and push yourself to do it for a full month, you will see physical results that haven’t happened to you before. 

The difference this time, for me, is that I’m writing daily, even just a little bit. As much as I can, a story, an excerpt, something. But I’m excited to see how this month will go.

I wanted to announce now, too, that I’ll be posting weekly motivation through October for it, in case it’s something you’re doing. I realize now that there are plenty of people who haven’t done it (I know a few authors who haven’t). So for that, I may as well just apologize for cluttering you’re reader if you’re not interested!

On the other hand, if you’re contemplating doing it for the first time this year, please give it a shot. 50,000 words sounds scary, but the real goal is to get you to write every day, and to commit, and to work on finishing something. It is to stoke your creativity. Don’t be intimidated, just go for it, that’s all it ever takes.

Do what you feel is best, anyway, whether for NaNo or just in general. For me, it’s mapping everything out so I know which way to go. For Friend, it’s jumping into it and letting the current take him through.

-The Novice Wordsmith