Thursday, July 25, 2019

July: Still Fallow

I got the last rejection I expected to get today, and with that, I'm closing the book on querying Druid Wars. For the foreseeable future, anyway. I'll be closing out three of them in a day or two, and then I'll have one left that was a long shot to begin with and I don't anticipate ever hearing back about, so yeah. Done.

Which is sad, since I was thinking about book two a little today, but oh well.

It's time to move on, I guess.

I've really been struggling the last few months. In the last two months, I've written 10 whole days. Most of that was brainstorming or outlining. Actual progress was only about 2k words out of 6.5k. I was really hoping July would be an output month, but I've been avoiding everything related to writing, including my friends. I did actually "quit" for a minute. A minute being about two weeks, actually.

My top agent, who has been closed since I started querying, finally opened. I sent in my revised query, excited and hopeful.

Got a "Dear Author" rejection less than 24-hours later.

I was gutted. I went into a funk and swore off writing. The constant unrelenting rejection was too much. The stress of trying to stay on track was causing me to melt down. I cannot write and query at the same time, but writing while querying was putting me behind on all my plans.

But querying is like setting a field of prairie grasses on fire. It kills everything. I was blackened and dried out. I had nothing left in me. I didn't even want to think about writing.

Now, new growth is starting to stir underneath that razed field. Little shoots are poking up, testing the air, and other things are coming to life again.

I'm not expecting a huge amount of output anytime soon. I'm giving myself the space to write or not, depending on how I feel. I'm ignoring my project timeline. I'll probably throw the whole thing out. Things are changing. I'm changing. My writing might be changing. I don't know how much looking back I'm going to be doing.

I don't know how much planning for the future I'm going to be doing, either.

I was astounded when one of my friends announced she had decided she was no longer going to write for publication. I thought we were all in this little club of folks wanting to make it, and suddenly, she wasn't anymore. Can she even do that? I wondered.

And now, I think I agree with her. The publishing landscape is treacherous. It's like navigating a stormy sea full of pirates and sharks. I don't think I want to be a part of it, right now. I've thought more and more about small presses or self-publication, but even if I do either of those, it won't be for awhile.

I'd like to try to step back and just write, for a bit, without worrying about agents or fans or even beta readers. Write for myself, and for my characters, and maybe, just maybe, my brother and sister.

And honestly, I think it's going to be MystWatch. I've been meditating on what to do next, and I keep coming back to that. I tried to tell my inner self that ship has sailed, but it doesn't seem to matter. It's where my heart is. Always has been. I don't know who gets their story next, but I think that might be what next year brings.

This year, I'm mostly focusing on recuperating after querying and getting myself ready to write once November hits. I've been taking notes about that project on and off for months. It's really starting to come together. Or at least, the world and the feel is starting to flesh out. I'm actually looking forward to it, which is something I haven't felt about a story idea in...quite a long time.

I may poke at Sally Prescott, Chain Letter, or even Witches between now and then, but again, only depending on how I feel. If all I want to do is read nonfiction books about birds and trees, take pictures, and play videogames, then I'm allowing myself to do it.

And if I do query again someday, I'll have to make sure I don't plan on writing anything. The two cannot happen simultaneously.

Anyway. This is my update for what I did (or rather, didn't) in July. I'm leaving for Murdercon with Rachel next week and won't be back until late on the 4th. I figured I'd do this post now and a post about Murdercon sometime later in the month. I've been bad about post-con updates the last few years, but I haven't had a lot to say after Conquest in awhile. I should have at least a thing or two to say after this experience!

So farewell until next month. I promise I'll keep coming back here, even if I'm not writing. It's good for me to check in, even if the only progress update I have is that I haven't made any progress.

Monday, July 1, 2019

July: Creativity Bust and Waxing Philosophical

I was wrong about June being a catch-up, month. Turns out, it really was my mid-year break. I just started it a little early, in May.

Not good.

There were moments in June where I really contemplated quitting. Wouldn't life be easier if I didn't have to write? If I just threw in the towel and let someone else write. Writing is hard. Editing is hard. Querying is soul-crushing. And it doesn't sound like any part past querying is any easier. Why do I even do this to myself when half the time I don't even like doing it??

Well, it's like Judy Blume said, more than once, in her Masterclass. Because I do have to.

So I haven't given up. I am letting my slow month slide and I'm revamping my goals.

The first thing that's going is the idea of quarters. It's too structured. Or not structured enough? Either way, it's not working. I want to have flexibility. I want the option to edit two months, write a month, edit a month, write for three months, take a break for two months. It's great to have quarterly goals, but I don't think they should be so focused like that. Projects, yes. But not whether I'm writing or editing. Eventually it gets to a point where I've done all the editing and need to write more.

Anyway. The quarters thing got me through my edits early this year. So I don't regret setting that up. But as with all things, when they stop working, it's time to change.

I've also revamped my project timeline. And my self-publishing timeline. Which, is all theoretical anyway. But it was helpful to give myself some space and time. I feel less pressured. And I like having what feels like a semi-realistic ten-year plan for my writing career. It's comforting.

The other thing that's not exactly changing, but wrapping up, is querying. I have three outstanding queries right now (the rest either closed without response or were rejections, including the full MS request), and next week when my top agent opens, I'm sending out five more queries. But. Then I'm done with Druid Wars. That will put me at 50 queries. I've lost any hope of it getting picked up. It sucks, but it is what it is. Now is not the time for this book. I've lost my excitement for it, anyway. I'm having trouble mustering enough enthusiasm to send out the last five queries. There were a couple queries I closed out that I should have sent follow-ups on, but I'm really just done. Ready to move on.

I want my creativity back, and as it turns out, I can't write while I'm querying. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to do both, but the biggest lesson I learned about myself this querying round is that I need to schedule something other than writing while I'm querying. Or schedule nothing. My brain just doesn't want to create when its creative output is being shot down every week.

I don't need to worry about it next year. I won't have another book ready to query until early 2021. But then I'll be querying two years in a row, so I'll have to keep in mind what I'm capable of doing during the handful of months I'm sending those out. Maybe I can edit other projects. Or take more Masterclasses or something. Outline books.

That is one thing I did manage to get done. Two things, rather. I started and completed the Judy Blume Masterclass, and I finished the CLC outline. I didn't get any words written on it, but it's ready to power through when I get the time and motivation to sit down with it. And the Blume Masterclass was really motivating and comforting. My other two goals I wrote down for last month were to write a short story and query the last five agents. As I mentioned, the querying will happen next week, although I did personalize two of the queries I'm sending. And the short story...well, I worked on the Shane MystWatch short. But I didn't finish it.

So, it wasn't a total bust. I did a lot of thinking and brainstorming and soul searching and planning. The more I reflect on this year, the more I realize that this is a learning year. I thought I was ready for the big time. But at is turns out, I still have a lot to learn. About craft. About process. About the industry. And about myself. The Masterclasses are great. Murdercon is going to be great. NaNo is going to be great (it's looking like I might try to write sci-fi this year).

This month, I am going to write another SP adventure for Camp NaNo. I may also try to write the Shane short. Those are my main focuses. And I think, as far as Masterclass, I might go back through my notes and maybe some exercises from the classes I've finished, but the next class I do, I want to be for fun. Maybe the photography one.

Then for August, who knows. The tentative plan is to finally start Pandemonium. But hell. Maybe, just maybe, I'll do CLC first. We'll see how I feel when that time comes. If I am ready to write or ready to edit.

I know Pandemonium keeps getting punted. And each time I do it, I ask myself...is it worth going back to? I don't write paranormal or even horror anymore. Sure, it's a cool bit of worldbuilding and has a couple interesting characters, but I wrote it so long ago. Are my energies better used moving forward rather than looking back? I did briefly consider throwing Dante Novels into the mix in my upcoming plans. But the more I think about it, the more I think maybe Pandemonium is as far back as I should go. True, there are novels with potential from further back (Hunker City, Immortals, Dante, maybe even Primoris Curator), but the amount of cleanup work those will need just at the sentence level...I don't know. I just don't know. Dante I have mostly let go. Same with Hunker City. I never really figured I'd go back to Primoris Curator since I stole a lot from it for MystWatch. Immortals has some nice moments, and I like the relationships (same with Story of Brenne). But I only have so much time and creative energies. Rather than going back and finishing old projects, I kinda feel like I should focus on the ones I'm working on now. MystWatch was the big one I wanted off my plate. Pandeomium is, too. I love the premise. So yes, I think I will eventually get to it.

Just...maybe not this year. Maybe this year, I will finish writing Chain Letter and SP and work on my new NaNo project...and next year can be finishing Once We Were Witches and fixing Pandemonium. Pandemonium has waited this long. It seems a shame to lose momentum on CLC while it's still fresh in my mind.

Yeah...right now, I really feel like finishing projects I've started in the last few years is more important than digging into a project nearly a decade old. It's a little freeing, thinking about putting off (or even putting down) that old book. It is definitely one I want to give its due. The last of the old NaNo novels that has potential. I've just got so many of those, now, with a new one just about every year! I need to get better about finishing them the year after I start them. But I'm not sure I'll ever be that person. I have to draw the line somewhere. And right now that line is hovering around Pandemonium.

At any rate. This has been a very long, philosophical entry. Like I said, I spent most of June in thoughtful mode. I have a lot of thoughts, as it turns out. I feel better having thought them, and even better having written them down. But the time for thinking is coming to a close. It's time to get back to work.

I am hopeful--optimistic, even--that July will be an output month. I think historically, August and September have been my prolific months, so output may not be huge. But as long as I can get around 15k written this month, I'll be happy.