In the Future, Tense

May 24, 2010

Finishing — Part One: The Fear is Real

I’ve done a lot of talking about writing and publishing.  I’ve talked about how to find ideas, how to perfect ideas, how to find your market, put together a professional manuscript and query letter and send it out.  In all this time, I’ve said there’s one thing I don’t know how to teach, and that’s how to finish.  I don’t mean how to write an ending.  I mean how to finish, to complete a manuscript, stop writing it, declare that it is as good as you can get it, and get it out the door.

I’ve never had a problem with this aspect of the craft/business.  I write, I finish, I send out, I start the next.  I started doing this in high school, and I’ve been doing it ever since.  And I pray to all the divinities who take pity upon fools and writers that I never will lose this ability.

But I’ve seen plenty of people who can’t manage it.  They are talented writers with solid ideas, and they just can’t, or won’t finish.  There can be a number of reasons for this.  Finding out how much work writing actually is is a big one.  Or Real Life might toss a major detour in your way.  These things happen.  But there are reasons beyond this.  Of these, the biggest, the most persistent, is fear.

So I thought I’d do a series about fear as it relates to writing, talk some about what it is, and what it isn’t, and maybe look at some ways to deal with it.



May 12, 2010

Questioning Authority

Is there something about writing; the business, the craft, the life you’ve always wanted to know but has so far remained beyond the reach of your Google-fu?

Ask here.  Keep it clean.  I’ll do my best to answer.  If we get enough questions, we can make a regular feature out of it.

May 7, 2009


Filed under: CL Anderson — carolynanderson09 @ 3:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

img_0014I got rejected yesterday.

I’ve been told that a working writer should never blog about their rejections, because editors and agents also surf the web.  But this is supposed to be a blog about the writing life, and getting rejected is most definitely part of the writing life.  It is also one with which I am waaay more familiar than I want to be.

I started getting rejected by professional venues when I was still in high school.  Young Miss was the first publication to turn me down, although they did it with the words “lovely story,” scrawled in the margin of the form letter (this was back in the Jurassic, when all this was done through the mail).  That note, incidently, sealed my doom.  A Real Live Editor had read my story!  And liked it!!  I was rejected and over the moon at the same time, and more determined than ever to become a pro.

The tenth anniversary of that first rejection, I threw a party.  For decorations, I took all my saved rejection slips and taped them together as a banner and hung it up in the living room.  One of my roommates measured the thing and it came in at 55 1/2 feet, almost 5 and 1/2 feet of rejection per year.  I was actually incredibly proud of myself.  I still have that banner, rolled up.  I unroll it for writing workshops to show the students what they’re in for.  If they don’t run screaming, I figure they’ve got a better than even chance of making it as writers.

But somehow, this time, I’m having a harder time bouncing back, let alone recovering my sense of humor.  Maybe it has something to do with getting an e-mail a few hours after The Rejection informing me that an old friend had just made the New York Times Bestseller list.

Congratulations.  No, I mean it.  My eyes have always been this shade of green.  Really.

But then it comes down to the brutal truth.  If I lie down under the disappointment, it’s over.  And then what?  I don’t have a back up career.  Since I was 13 all I ever wanted to be was a writer.  I went through college with that one goal in mind.  When I was single, I paid the rent as a tech writer.  After marriage, when I lost the tech-writing contract (cut-backs in the auto industry, ain’t it always the way?), I went full time freelancing and fictioneering (ooo, new word.  How bad can things be?).

So, this is it.  No grand summing up.  No words of immpeciable wisdom or humor.  Just another day.  I will put on my big girl panties and deal, because I cannot bear to give up.

May 6, 2009

Starting Over

Filed under: Uncategorized — carolynanderson09 @ 4:44 pm
Tags: ,

img_0023Contrary to popular belief, the waiting is not the hardest part.

The best way to deal with the Long Wait for an answer from a publisher is to start a new project.  That way you have something not only to keep your mind off how long you’ve been waiting, but hopefully you’ve got something new underway if that answer is “no.”

Unfortunately, for me anyway, starting over is the hardest part.

It’s not getting the idea that’s the problem.  I have plenty of ideas to spare.  It’s that I’ve gone from apoint where I’m intimately familiar with the story; I know the characters like they’re friends and I’m positive about what each one of them will say and do in any given scene.  There are at least portions of the story I can look at and say, “Dang! That’s good!”

But then that’s gone out into the ether, or, more rarely these days, the mail box, and I am faced with a blank screen and a head full of ideas that I know will somehow not survive the translation into muscle movement and then pixels.

It is the weirdest, most frustrating feeling in the universe to try to put an idea on the screen or the page, and to look at what you’ve written and say “But that’s not what I MEANT!”  But you’ve got no idea how to say what you do mean.

I’m going through this right now.  I’m starting up a new project, a slower-than-light, steampunk space opera.  Should be fun.  We’ve got an ancient martian menace, mysterious telepathic Europans and an Earth that has fallen to “the Billion Enemies.”  I believe it will be a series. The working title for the first book is THE CLOCKWORK CUCKOO.  So far, so good.

But the writing itself is painful.  I know nothing about any of these people, not even their names in most cases.  I get two sentences down and I have to stop again to make a note or go look something up.    I’m more easily distracted too, simply because this is the time of Sitting and Staring which can very easily turn into Staring at the laundry, which turns into doing the laundry, which turns into needing to get out of the house, which turns into anything but writing.

Funny how blogging tends to work like that too.  Heigh-ho.  Better get back to the beginning.

Blog at