Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: The Tower of Discards

No, that's not a location on a fantasy writer's nightmare map.  What this is, though, is another IWSG moment of me asking for advice, instead of attempting to give it.

I've written a lot of books over the years.  If the count I just did is correct, I'm up to fourteen, and that's assuming I didn't somehow miss one or two.  And while I know it's important to not compare myself to others, since every writer's journey is different, I know I'm on the high end of how many books authors tend to write before they get published.

I have a problem: I give up on my own writing too easily.  And I don't know how to stop.

As I've talked about over the past few months, I'm working toward querying The Book of Lost Runes, though doing some major rewrites has stalled that.  But once my beta readers for the latest version of the book get back to me and I make whatever changes I need to, it'll be time to move on to the next step.  And yet I can't help thinking about setting it aside to work on something else.

Yes, this is the book I wrote an entire blog entry about, saying how happy I was that I'd told the exact story I wanted to tell.  Even now, despite my doubts (the usual ones and those specific to this book), I still think it's a good story.  It's still what I want it to be.

None of which keeps me from thinking I should trunk it and write something better.  I mean, I keep talking about how I finally feel like I'm getting better, so whatever I write next will have to be awesome, right?  Sure, until I decide to stop working on that one too.

I've been here, at this exact place, over and over.  No matter where I get in the query process, I stop when I start to think that no one's going to want to see the book, and I move on to something else completely.  If I was just setting a book aside for a while, planning to go back to it later, that would be okay, I think.  But no.  It's always "No one wants to read this, so into the trash it goes."  I'm only writing about it now because I'm feeling like this before I've even started to query.

So yeah, this does kind of boil down to me requesting an intervention.  For myself.  >_<

I don't know if everyone's been where I am right now, but I think most if not all of us can understand that feeling of wanting to toss something aside and start all over.  I've spent way too much time here, and this is not a place where I want to be.  But unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be something I can just flex my willpower at and declare with all my might that I'm going to press forward, and watch it disappear.  The feeling just comes right back.

So I'd appreciate any advice y'all can offer on this.  I am still pressing ahead with BoLR; I'm working on the query for that while waiting to hear back from betas, and of course working on other projects like I talked about last week.  But I could use help with this.

Next week: The Full Rewrite.  ...no, not for BoLR, not after everything I just wrote...

One more thing: I'm featured over at Dianne Salerni's blog today!  She does a feature called First Impressions, where writers can have their book's first page posted and get critique.  If you want to read the first page or so of The Book of Lost Runes, head on over.  ^_^

24 comments:

  1. Haven't made it to Dianne's site yet, but I did read the First Impression on Marcy's blog. Really liked it!
    You just need faith in yourself. And your work. You have to start trying somewhere. This book is a good place.

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    1. Thank you. It gets really difficult sometimes to tell myself that yes, I can do this, but I'm glad that IWSG gives me the place to look for help with that. ^_^

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  2. Maybe after you read all the comments you're getting on the first page, your faith in the book will be re-newed!

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    1. Matter of fact, that's helped quite a bit. ^_^

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  3. It sounds like "shiny new object syndrome" where we get distracted by an exciting new idea, tossing our current one to the curb. A lot of us have been there. :)

    I don't think there's a one answer fits all. You've got to listen to your gut. Really listen.

    Good luck!

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    1. Thank you. And yeah, it's always easy to get distracted by something new, especially when it seems like "new" will mean "better". But that's no way to actually get anywhere with this.

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  4. GET OUT THERE. From what I read, you've got a solid grasp and are ready to go. Look for contests, seriously, because they kick the trash out of cold querying.

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    1. The only full request I've ever received was through a contest, but I still feel like it didn't count, because I didn't realize the small-press the contest was for was romance-only. >_< But thank you, and I'll keep my eye out for contests.

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  5. I'm always certain that the "next" project is THE project. Yeah, I can relate to what you're saying and I've only written two books (one queried and rejected over and over, while the second "no one would ever want to read."), and I do that very same thing.

    Reading your post has me motivated. I'm going to keep pushing on the first book and get started on the query for the second.

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    1. Awesome. Good to know that my need for help has helped someone else. ^_^

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  6. Mason, dude, don't do this to yourself. I know exactly what you're talking about and I think it has a lot to do with working on something for an extended period of time. You lose a little juice towards the end because you're distracted by shiny, new, better ideas. And you start to see all the possibility in them and you think to yourself, "no, THAT'S the one that will make it!"

    I get like this with some of my projects too. When I'm entirely too focused on them, I keep thinking of all the other things I could be writing and how much better those ideas are than the current one. But you've got to take a step back and remember why you were so passionate about the project to begin with. Don't trick yourself into thinking the next thing you write will be better. It might be, but you've still got something kick ass in front in you. Remember that. Harness that. Don't give up.

    Don't you dare give up on this one.

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    1. Thank you. That means a lot to hear, especially after you've told me how much you liked the book. ^_^ And I'm not giving up.

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  7. I'm really enjoying BoLR. And, um, I did want to read it, so there goes your logic for throwing it in the trash. :) Stay strong. You've got a good story.

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    1. Good to know! And thank you. Hope you continue to enjoy it.

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  8. I've been where you are. I've written 9 books and only one of them has been published so far (and that by myself on basically a whim). Writing the book, at least the early drafts, is the easy part. It's fun and exciting. Polishing, revising, editing, and then getting it out there to people, that's the hard part. It's tedious work.

    But that's what you have to do. You need to focus and concentrate and see it through to the bitter end. It is work and it's grind and you will meet frustration and disappointment and rejection on the way, but we all face it. You need to find your own way to get through that, your own routines, habits, rewards and goals, but know it can be done. It has been done. And then you can start working on the next fun part.

    IWSG October

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    1. I think you've hit on it - the plotting and writing is when it feels magical, whereas the editing and all that goes with it feels like work. But it's in those latter stages where the book actually gets better. So yes, I'm going to keep pushing through this.

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  9. Published -- ancient latin word roughly translating to "TOO stubborn to stop."

    I know, hardee, har, har, but it's true. Sometimes you just have to be stubborn with something. At some point you need to just query the book. Take it the mountain and get a lot of feedback. Will it get rejections and silence? yes. Does that mean anything? only that you're querying.

    I know that it's hard to have faith in a book. I know that at some point you just want to move onto the next one because you think it's awesome, but there's a thing that you have to do at some point: You have to pick a book and tell yourself that you are going to see that book all the way through. You need to do this because there are pieces you will learn at different steps along the journey. You can't learn how to pedal up a mountain by practicing on the flatlands, sure it helps your cardio, but it ain't the same. If you get caught in the first draft, major rewrite prep for query--nah, I think I'll write this next book, then you aren't going to give yourself the opportunity to learn from the next steps in novel writing. And you should consider a smaller publisher so you can experience the whole novel going through a publisher thing. You will learn things that will help you as a writer.

    If it helps, tell yourself that this novel is just for practice, that you are practicing querying. you are practicing receiving rejection. That you are practicing handling partial requests and full requests (trust me, they are way scarier and more exciting than the rejections, and if you're anything like me, you will act like an idiot when you get them--the no sleeping and jumping everytime your email dings). But you need to practice all of these things with a novel. You have one you are almost ready to query, put it through the ringer and get some practice in.

    so yeah, the advice boils down to this: if you haven't practiced all the steps with a book, how are you going to know which pitfalls to avoid when you write the next thing and it is shiny and awesome? It's not like the path to published is as easy to follow as a road (and it's different for everyone!)

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    1. I know I've been at this for a long time when that joke only makes me smile grimly, not laugh, because I know it's way too true. :P

      I don't know if I could think of this as practice, but you do have a really good point: even if this isn't the one that makes it, querying it now will help me prepare for the one that does. And if BoLR is the one that makes it, so much the better. Thank you.

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  10. We might be related. I feel like you do in regards to wanting to start over and write something better than suffer through the query process. I think I'm that way because the query process is just so freakin' awful. It takes forever, the answer is always "No thank-you, not for me" and you never know if the reason behind that was because your query wasn't quite attention-grabbing enough, or the sample pages were not up to snuff, or if the agent just wants something else. You get no information during the query process so you don't know what to do except keep going. So here's what I'm thinking. I'll query my novel up to a point--maybe 100 queries, whatever. Then I'll try smaller publishing houses. And if that all falls to nought and I still don't want to self-publish (because a marketing-genius, I'm not) then I start something new.

    Or, I will divide my work-time to half pursuing publication and half writing something I enjoy. Maybe balance is the key.

    Good luck. We all need that don't we?

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    1. It really does sound like we've got the same issues. >_< The last book I queried, I hardly even got any rejections, just a whole lot of silence. Much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I'm sure that had a lot to do with why I gave up on it. But I'm not going to give up so easily on this one - I won't give up at all, if I can help it.

      And good luck to you as well. ^_^

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  11. The truth: we're always going to write something better. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't get our work out the door if it's good enough. Polished until it shines, but never perfect. Because there will never be any such thing. Enjoyed your first page, Mason!

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    1. Thank you! Always good to hear. ^_^ And yeah, that's something I have to remind myself sometimes. Nothing will ever be perfect, but "good enough to share" is a start, and "good enough to sell" is a reasonable goal.

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  12. I hate to say this but...I don't think the feeling every goes away. I think we get to a point where we learn to deal with it and push through (and query and publish) despite it. That's why it's so important to have this type of space where you can get the encouragement (and free therapy, lol) you need to forge ahead despite the fear and doubt. You deserve to tell your stories and let your voice be heard. There's an audience out there waiting for whatever you're writing. Don't cheat them!

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    1. That's something I've heard from quite a few authors - no matter how many books you've written or published, when you sit down with a new one, you feel like you don't know what you're doing. Not everyone feels that way, but it's common enough. >_< But yes, I'm not going to give up, and I'm very glad for the free therapy of IWSG.

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