Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG: Confess!

I have this horrible habit of remembering all the stupid stuff I've done or said over the years and going through it over and over again in my head.  And I know I'm not the only one.  A lot of this relates to writing, because if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've seen that I don't exactly know what I'm doing.  (I'm pretty sure that nobody knows what they're doing, but that's another entry and doesn't decrease my insecurity at all.)

So I figured a good theme for this month's IWSG would be to confess as many stupid, silly, or kind of embarrassing writing things as I can fit into a blog entry, in hopes of both letting it all go and hopefully laughing along the way.  :P  Here goes:

  • The very first book I tried to write was a novelization of a video game, Final Fantasy IV (then Final Fantasy II in the US because of localization weirdness).  I planned to write about the first quarter of it, then send it to the company that made the game and get their permission to finish it.  I actually thought this would get published.
  • My writing after that was largely horrible fanfic based off of the X-Men cartoon from the early 90s.  I'm glad the internet as we know it wasn't around then, as I know I would have posted it.  Under an incredibly stupid name that 14-year-old me thought was cool.
  • I get really hesitant about putting in pop culture references in anything I write that takes place in the real world, because I worry that either no one will get it or it'll sound dated in a year or so.
  • I spent three years writing my first novel and I think I managed to fit in every single fantasy cliche I knew.  Multiple chosen ones (chosens one?), pure good vs. evil, hidden old wizards, savages with weird magic, a false hero who gets gutted halfway through the story, and a metric assload of dragons.  I actually thought this would get published.  Hell, I had an entire trilogy planned.  I think I gave up after querying six agents.
  • I once printed out the book I'd been querying just to burn it, to make sure I fully set it aside.  It didn't work.
  • I plotted another trilogy based on another video game (in the same series, no less), because I had this idea that I could make it my own.  I really thought it would work.  But I got five or six chapters in and realized that this wasn't just "inspired by", it was "derivative of".  It's for the best that this never worked, because I know that eventually, someone would have called me out on it.  >_<
  • From what I remember about my early queries, I made the mistakes of comparing my books to bestsellers, and was generally kind of pompous because I was trying to sound writerly.  I don't know if agents pass around really bad queries they get, but I wouldn't have blamed them.
  • I've tried to make a book about a post-apocalyptic road trip work three different times.  I still can't get it, and it torments me because I really want to.  Grr.  Arg.
  • I once had an idea for a story involving celestial beings who rose up out of cracks in the ground.  Then I realized I'd have to call it "The Stars in our Fault", and that kind of killed it.
  • I tend to use characters that aren't mine as shorthand when in the early plotting stages, to give me a general idea of who someone's supposed to be before I develop them further.  One of my plots in progress is currently populated by an old RPG character of mine, a visual novel character, someone from "Legend of Korra", and two Disney villains.
  • When I'm working on a book, my pre-writing ritual consists of taking a shot of liquor and dancing around my living room to a song I've chosen for that particular book.  Don't knock it, it works.
  • If I need a name for a bit part who's a real asshole, it will likely be Steve, because of a guy who bullied me when I was in fifth grade.  Apologies to any Steves out there who are decent guys, because some things stick with me.
  • Finally: the crazy dream book that I've talked about here before was, largely, an attempt to write a legit version of a fanfic I wrote years ago.  I thought I could recapture something I pulled off really well when I was working with other peoples' creations.  I thought wrong, which is why I'm not working on that rewrite for NaNoWriMo.
Enough of that.  Please, share in the comments - not only will you feel better, I'll feel better.  :P

Next week: what I forgot about creating characters.


  1. Steve had it coming.
    Lots of stories about video games. Some of the computer games I play deserve full stories though.
    I thought I could land a big publisher with my first book, Tor or someone. Yeah, that didn't work out. But I'm glad it didn't.

    1. Steve totally did. -_- And yeah, video games have been a thing for me since I was a kid. Inspiration comes from all kinds of places, but I have to make sure it's only inspiration.

  2. Confession: I liked the cliche chosen one book.

    Confession number 2: I was surprised that agents weren't all over my first query. So much so that I sent it out ONE. AGENT. AT. A. TIME. (I maybe queried that one for a while longer than planned).

    Confession number 3: For the first time since I started querying, I didn't get a rejection letter on my birthday. And I spent a bit of time worried that I wasn't important enough for the universe to reject me on my birthday. Then I reminded myself that it was just a touch of luck. But powerful luck.

    1. I know you did. I remember you interrupting a fencing bout to threaten my soul for the next chapter. :P And I didn't know that about #3, pretty nifty how that worked out. ^_^

  3. "The Stars in our Fault" *giggle*

    I suppose here are some of my confessions:

    * I used to write Sliders fanfic, but with my own character as the lead.

    * My love of Sailor Moon inspired me to write my first novel when I was 15, which fell just short of 50K. Everything about the story got changed except for the main character's appearance and five character names. The end result turned into 200K, which I edited down to the 170K Thanmir War.

    * I sometimes channel my character Cera's personality when I'm at work and tell my co-workers how awesome I am.

    1. Yeah, I went full self-insert in my early fanfic too. Oi! And there are times when I have to remind myself *not* to talk in a character's voice when I'm around people, as it only leads to me saying some very strange stuff. Oops.

  4. I'm seconding "The Stars in our Fault" giggle!

    My confessions:

    *My first query did actually get several full requests. Poor agents. After reading a really miserable MS, I think I went on their black lists forever.

    *At first, I thought 30,000 words made a massive adult novel. Luckily, that was before I decided to start trying to get things published.

    *I once had the chance to meet with a real, live author for tips. (*gasp*) I was so scared and shy, I sat with the poor woman and asked her the silliest questions until long after dark. Her husband had to finally come in and politely ask me to leave. (But now, I also realize this was her fault. She didn't have the guts to hint that it was time for me to go either.) Still, I feel terrible about the evening.

    The list goes on, but it's better not to share all secrets :)

    1. Hey, at least you can number your full requests as "several". :P And I think a lot of us have had the moment (or two) of acting like a doofus in front of someone whose work we really like. I don't know if it ever gets easier.

  5. I thought my first book would land me an agent. I started rereading it recently and discovered that it was a horrible mess. Poor agents! I have many more shameful moments, but I think I need to save those for another time:)

    1. Eeyup, been there. The reason I talk so much crap about my early work is because I remember it - I even reread my third book a while back and was kind of horrified that I ever queried it. >_<

  6. At my very first author event ever -- a publisher sponsored launch for a new imprint -- I arrived ridiculously early and hid in the bathroom because I was too shy to introduce myself to the editors who were setting up the event.

    Not a writing-related stupidity, but embarrassing all the same.

  7. Good grief you people have low opinions of your writing! Mason your "cliche" book was amazing and I totes loved it. It was different despite the fact you think it was cliche. And GRRM has shown that yes you can totes gut a main character part way through. Or more. Or, if the future books show, all probably. At any rate seriously stop thinking of agents and publishers as some kind of LORD OF THE BOOK as though their precious opinions are the absolute WORD OF LAW. Have you read what gets published?!

    Have you seriously read what gets published. The one question agents and publishers are asking is "Will This Sell" not "Is this quality/awesome/amazing".

    You are not a bad writer if you get rejected by an agent/publisher. You're just not what they are looking to make money off. If I were an agent, Mason, you'd be my number 1 client. If I were a publisher you'd have a string of books to your name!