Sunday, May 13, 2012


There are a few rules in blog writing. First of all, one should always be positive. People don't like hearing negativity. Unfortunately, I didn't get that memo until recently, so a few of my previous posts *coughs, "Twilight!"* didn't really fit that bill.

Also, one isn't supposed to talk about oneself. I've been a little better about avoiding the "I" word.

Today, I'm going to talk about yesterday. My yesterday. It's dangerous. Also because yesterday was a rather negative experience. So that's me and negativity. If you want to run screaming, do it now.

Criticism is a much needed tool in striving for betterment. We've discussed that critique groups and giving your work to reliable sources can make you see things that you couldn't on your own. We know that a necessary part of revision is hearing that your work is imperfect.

Yesterday, my first 250 pages were critiqued by an agent. Pretty awesome stuff, actually. I'm eternally grateful for the criticism, as well as the suggestions. I don't want to make it sound like this was a negative experience, because it was not. These precious words could be the difference between another agent passing over my work and choosing it. This could be the turning point!

But it also humbled me, and yes, it hurt a little. I don't know if you other writers have trouble keeping both feet on the ground, but sometimes I think I'm awesome. My weekly critique group helps me with that, of course. But lately, I've been bringing stuff that's worked for the group. So I haven't gotten my bittersweet injection of, "Yeah... you have some work to do".

I've discussed the personality of the writer many times. It changes from person to person, of course. But I think the very nature inherent to our species sometimes has trouble not putting walls up, especially when we've been hit. These humbling moments need to be treated as humbling moments, not personal attacks. Our tender little egos need to take non-praise like medicine. Doesn't taste good going down, but cures what ails you.

A loss in battle could become a victory in war. 
For me, yesterday was hard. A lot of things happened that made me feel inadequate in life. Not just in writing, mind you, but in my personal life as well. I think that the beautiful criticism I received was only difficult at this point because of all the other stuff going on. That can happen. Normally, we'd be resilient and logical. But when everything is crumbling like crazy, it's hard to stay focused and remember that we require the criticism more than the praise. You feel like a victim. This is when people start to give up. The crucial moment that divides the serious writers from the dreamers.

When I awoke this morning, I wanted to put all kinds of walls up. I wanted to retire to my corner and huddle in a ball. I wanted to bury myself  in my yards of hair, extending a claw-like hand if anybody came near.

There's no point to this behavior, of course. Okay, I've been hit. Somebody ran by and clipped me below the knees. It happens, sometimes in every wake of life. Career, love, bills, friendship, dreams... we just can't catch a blasted break. That was me yesterday. Despite a much needed gathering around a hookah, I had that weighing feeling of about half a dozen things that were bringing me down. Things I was failing at. Various avenues life was using to reject me.

But now is the time to recognize our shortcomings, analyze why we've been rejected (even if it's for the thousandth time and you're about ready to plunk down with a bottle of whiskey and tell everyone to expletive the expletive), and see these low moments as stepping stones wrought with failure that shall only lead to success.

That feeling of raw vulnerability is a hard one. Throwing yourself out on the line is never easy, and we aspiring writers have to do it all of the time.

I feel your pain, as I'm sure you feel mine. If life's a war, then some battles will be lost. We'll come limping back to the tents bleeding and bruised, maybe even with a few broken bones and exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to run back out there and join the crossfire.

But that's exactly how successes become successes. Wrap that arm, make a tourniquet, stop the bleeding, and get your butt back out on the battlefield.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I like to think of writing as an extension of my childhood games by myself. I would come up with the craziest ideas using plastic horses, Barbie dolls, dinosaurs, and action figures. Whole, complex plots would unravel while my sister and I sat cross-legged on the carpet. Romantic affairs between Barbie and Godzilla. The unfolding of the evil action figure empire on the bed, with a purple-suited Dracula in charge. The pretentious world of the horses, who peered down at the world from their perch on the bookshelves.

Imagination. Pure, unedited imagination. If I succeed at this career, it'll be a lot of work. But it'll also be perpetual playtime. Me cross-legged on the carpet with a t-rex in one hand and a winged unicorn in the other.

Long live imagination.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Sometimes, it's hard not to self-sabotage. It can come in many forms. You might be involved in a critique group, and on the day of the meeting, you fail to print out your pages because you're low on toner or have a paper jam. You might feel a little sick, or the weather isn't nice. In your heart of hearts, you know that you're avoiding the group because you don't want to go. Each meeting gets you that much closer to a polished gem. Closer to the end.

It's also possible that when query time starts, you might sabotage yourself in half a dozen ways. You may not review your work thoroughly enough and overlook several typos or grammatical errors that may have otherwise not made it to the final cut. You might wait until you don't have internet service and then convince yourself that it isn't your fault you didn't meet your own deadline because you simply don't have internet. Or, you might busy yourself in some other way so that you "forget" to send it off.

Fear causes self-sabotage. We're afraid of success.

You might find yourself self-sabotaging without even knowing it. Here is a list of excuses people use when the lurking problem is really fear and nothing more.

1. My computer isn't working.

2. This stupid Microsoft Word thingy isn't letting me format correctly.

3. Well spell-check didn't get that one.

4. I've been so tired and rundown lately. I just don't have the energy to write.

5. My kids!

6. My spouse!

7. My job!

8. I don't know if the world is ready for my work yet.

9. I have nobody to revise or edit it.

10. I'm just too distracted right now. I'll wait until I can focus better.

You might find that these can also apply to weight loss goals, dating, and finding a new job. People come up with these excuses when they shirk from the possibility of a huge life change. When it's a dream, it's nice and safe. You're another individual with a dream. That's quite ordinary and comfortable.

But the minute you jump from one cliff to another, there's a fleeting moment when you're in midair, suspended in a vast sea of nothingness with no net below. You'll come up with any excuse you can create to try and avoid ending up in that void. And yet, it's necessary to your success to hang there so you can land on that other cliff and continue your wonderful journey to success.

Publication! Let the word roll off your tongue.

Get thee behind me, self-sabotage. There's no stopping me now!