Stuck Again?

Heh, it would figure that I would post about goals and dreams and then… get stuck.  Yeah, it happens.  I don’t get idea block, I get too many ideas and they make it hard to focus.  That is what usually happens when I’m stuck, anyway.

This time is a combination of too many ideas and just plain old self-pity/loathing.  A bunch of rejections came in, every single one of them with the general message “close, but no thanks, please send more”.  This is good on one level.  I’m close!  On the other hand, I’ve been there before.  I don’t want to have a story come close, I want the story to sell.  Close is just frustrating at this point.  The other reason I’m stuck is because I wrote a story that failed.  My writing brain was fighting me the whole process and then I made myself finish the story (and send it out, because I knew if I let anyone read it before I did I would never get the courage to mail it).

What did my first reader say?  “Awesome setting but I don’t care about the characters or what is happening until page 11.”  Ok, I could cut the first ten pages, but wait, it is only a 12 page story.  Yeah. Sigh.  So what I was trying to do didn’t go well.  But hey, setting!  Maybe some editor out there will love the feel of the story enough to ignore the rest.  Who knows?

But inside I feel a bit down.  I wrote a story last week that both my first readers thought was the best thing I’ve done yet.  Then this week, I fail.  It makes getting back on the horse tough.  I’ve made myself start another story and gotten about a thousand words down, but I keep finding reasons to walk away from the keyboard.  Like posting here. And doing house chores.

So I failed at the story I was trying to tell. So what? I need to pick myself up.  It’s just a story. I still have the idea, I can always write a better version knowing what went wrong with the first one.  Meanwhile, I have other projects that have deadlines (at least, the places I want to submit them close very soon, so it is kinda like a deadline).  I can do this.  Write, finish, mail.  Fire and forget.

It’s going to be a scary day when I get up to 80 stories out.  If the stars align, I could technically get 80 rejections in one day.  Yeah. Scary.

(Flip side is that I could also make 80 sales in one day.  I think one is about as likely as the other, so I should stop tilting at windmills and get writing, right?)

5 Responses to “Stuck Again?”

  1. Alex J. Kane

    With me, the instant I receive a rejection I am completely devastated. Given ten minutes to stare at it, brooding, I eventually start to see it for what it is: one step along a great path to success. 1–hell, even 100–rejection(s) doesn’t mean you have failed in the slightest. In fact, it only means you are nearer and nearer to victory. You have to tell yourself that the Editor isn’t some sort of deity, and that your story could very well be every bit as good as you imagined it would be.

    Also, don’t be afraid to let your manuscripts have some time to breathe/cool off. Writing a story, letting it sit for a week, and them coming back to it with a bright-green pen in-hand allows you to really see what works (and what really doesn’t) in your story. You become more of an outside reader. What you didn’t think was all that great when you wrote it now seems brilliant; what seemed great is actually not that special. This is just the way the mind works; the creative mind is not a critical thinker, not a reliable reader. But a week later, with an open mind, even you can be your best first reader, if you learn to distance yourself from the work.

    Nothing is static. Nothing is irreparable.

    I should really start to listen to my own advice, I think.

    Take a break, if you’re “stuck.” Play Xbox for a couple days, so that I can live vicariously through your virtual exploits. Hehe.

    • izanobu

      Haha, Thanks, Alex. I did finish up writing yesterday and go shoot things on the xbox (Borderlands is what we’ve been playing in the house lately).

      I don’t generally edit in the way you are talking about. I comb through after writing and fix the nits (I type fast, so typos happen…). Then a first reader or two reads it and I fix whatever they say is broken that I also agree with (if their suggestion doesn’t make sense to me, I don’t change anything, it is MY story after all). Other than that, I follow Heinlein’s rules. Write, finish, don’t rewrite unless an editor says so, mail, keep in mail, rinse and repeat.

      I’ll probably revisit the idea of that failed story someday. But for now I’ve got way too many other ideas to get done with.

      • Alex J. Kane

        My girlfriend and I are going to a poetry “slam” tonight, which is always an interesting date, and then I think I might commit the cardinal sin and play some Star Wars: The Force Unleashed at her apartment. She made the very sinsterly clever suggestion that I relocate my Xbox to her place, so that we can “play Guitar Hero together.” More like, so she can monopolize my gaming time haha. That sneaky lil devil, haha. Probably for the best.

        I think it’s great that you’re making it a point to follow Heinlein’s rules; I follow them myself, save for ONE abandoned manuscript (I put a novelette on hold because there was nothing actually happening in the story–all exposition, characters, and setting with no actual PLOT hehe). I do, however, feel that his rule regarding rewriting has been misinterpreted, possibly. It seems, at least to me (and I am an unpublished amateur, hehe), ludicrous that a manuscript could be publishable right from the first draft–maybe a few writers can pull that off, but I know that most professional write 2 drafts, followed by a polish. The source of this philosophy is, of course, Mr. Stephen King, the Godliest of the Godly, but that doesn’t mean that it’s THE method.

      • izanobu

        Alex, allow me to refer you to another perspective on rewriting:

        I went to a workshop with DWS where we had 24 hours to write a story. We all, of course, turned in a rough draft. Guess what? That batch of stories was on the whole far better than the ones we turned in at the beginning of the workshop (which we’d had months to write). Read the myth posts, they are kinda amazing 🙂

  2. Alex J. Kane

    Don’t mistake my meaning; my method of revision is much like Smith’s himself. I simply adjust sentence-level things like syntax, word choice, etc., and put in clarification and add-ins where it seems necessary. I never “rewrite.” It’s either there in the first draft, or occasionally, like with your one “failed” effort, it needs redrafted completely (I only do this toward the beginning–to do it to a finished story would be disheartening indeed.

    And his “myth-busting” articles are pure genius; I don’t think that everything he says is necessarily 100% true ALL THE TIME, but he certainly alleviates a lot of negative energy that is inherent in this craft.

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