Monday, October 15, 2007

WRITE NOW!!!!!!

So, I’ve been kicking myself in the head the past few months over my lack of productivity in the writing arena, read as, lack of actually getting paid for my glorious prose... lack of definitive motion in my seemingly stalled career... and lack of time, not that I’m in charge of the world clock or anything but I figure I should be able to finagle extra hours into a day, ala (insert favorite mystical magical creature here).

On the valid excuse end of things – those excuses, they do tend to look valid when you say them often enough – summer was rough on me time wise as the kids were home, all three of them, which not only meant constant work for me, it also meant baseball, softball, swim lessons daily, going to the pool, park, zoo, and playdates.... see, I’m good at this excuse thing. Did I write at all this summer? Yes, actually. In my journal while waiting for their swim lessons to end, in the car while they were running amok at baseball, softball, etc... and in the wee hours of the morning or night when I could fit it in.... but not steady, not real hours, not eight hour stints that I so god awful long for.... urghhh....

Christina Katz gave a reading at Columbia College here in Chicago over the weekend and, lack of childcare and too many things to accomplish before school on Monday made me forego the event. Could I have gotten a sitter if I tried hard enough? Yes, actually I probably could have gotten either my mom or my mom in law. Why didn’t I? I wasn’t bloody ready. That’s what I’ve come up with. I wanted to be there, around other writers, especially Ms. Katz as I love her book and want to take one of her upcoming classes...

It’s not procrastination exactly, because I’ve been writing. Really, I have. What I haven’t been doing is taking the step that brings that hard earned work out into the market place, and really what good is it to write what no one else will ever read? So, I’ve thought about this really hard over the past day or so and decided that I have to set concrete goals and push forward. Whether it’s fear, or procrastination, or lack of time, the time for excuses is over. It’s time. Write Now.

I’ve set a schedule for myself that allows time to research markets, time to work on a current short, essay, or article, and time to barrel through the damn revisions (hold me to this – badger me in blog land, when you see me leaving a comment, ask me if I’ve put in an hour on my wip today, ask me if I’m ready for query, tell me to sit my ass down and write!!!!)

Just as a sort of pat on the back, I took my own motivational rant to heart – I re-read and edited the story I wrote a few weeks ago (thank you, Ello and Shelly, for being my very valued beta readers) and submitted it today, to Glimmer Train, no less... I know, the odds there are astronomical, but it’s out on submission, the worst they can say is no... Tomorrow I’m spending a half an hour researching other markets for that piece to stick in the file with it, then it’s on to the next thing... I’ve picked the next short to re-write, and I’m working my way through Mama Writer each night, too... Most important, though, at least one hour – more when I can get them – on my novel...

To hell with whatever’s been holding me back. Writing’s not enough if it never leaves my own little desk... I’ve promised myself one hour on the novel a day, minimum, and one short or article submission a week (or four a month, however it works out that gives me enough time to let it breathe and edit... but a minimum of four a month) I’ve also promised myself that each submission will entail a list of possible publications so that I can send the next submission the minute a rejection comes in... How about you guys? Are you writing? Are you submitting? Do you need a kick in the pants or a few kind words? And what’s your stumbling block, is it in the writing, or editing, or submission process? Thanks for reading my little rant... good luck with your writing, and your submissions.... Get it out there, people.

16 comments:

Kevin said...

Hi Merry. My name is Kevin Wong, and I am the author of the Heroes of Destiny fantasy-adventure books. I too am working hard as a writer and am trying diligently to earn a publishing deal for my material. I just read the article you wrote about "Talent vs. Perseverance", as well as your most recent posting, and I just wanted to say that your thoughts are insightful, and I hope you will achieve your dream of becoming a published author. I have the same dream regarding my own work, and so I hope both our dreams will one day (in the hopefully near future) be realized. Please feel free to contact me anytime Merry, for you now have a fellow writer and far-away friend in me!

Sincerely,

Kevin Wong
Author of Heroes of Destiny
www.kevinwong.ca
www.heroesofdestiny.ca

Mary Witzl said...

I write every single day. I want to think that I don't short-change my family, and most of the time I really don't; but I have borrowed time, I know. I do submit, too: I've got dozens of rejection letters and one hell of a calloused ego, but I've become a much better writer as a result. I've just gone back to some stuff I did a few years ago, and the difference is heartening. But I still have some way to go.

And you've just given me a good kick in the pants, Merry: I meant to be one of your beta readers, but haven't gotten around to e-mailing you over this! So I'll go do that right now...

Travis Erwin said...

Have you written today? Just thought I'd ask.

Angela WD said...

You're so right, the writing dowsn't do any good if it stays on your desk. I went through last spring receiving a bazillion rejections and I lost heart for a little while. I'm trying now for two queries or submissions a day. Some days I hit that goal, others I don't.

Way to go on submitting to Glimmer Train! It's one of my favorites.

Ello said...

Good for you!! Throw all those things holding you back out the window and start cracking! You can do it. We shall push each other, Ok? You check in with me and I'll check in with you! We will get there!

Jerseygirl89 said...

Do you mind if I print this post and hang it next to my computer?

Good for you to submitting to Glimmer Train!

Mary Witzl said...

Yes -- I'll badger you from time to time, Merry, if you badger me!

And have you found Duotrope? It's like AgentQuery: it lists all the possible publishing venues in one simple site.

The Anti-Wife said...

STOP READING THIS AND GET TO WORK!

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Kevin,

Very nice to meet you - I stopped at your site and browsed a bit, it looks great. I'll stop back over when I can and give it a more thorough read.

Thank you for the well-wishes and I hope you have the best of success in publishing, as well!

Hi Mary,

I'm sure you got my email from yesterday, thanks for the offer, I can always use a thoughtful reader - and I love reading for other writers (I find it not only helps the writer but teaches me things about my own writing and editing, and it's usually a lot of fun, so win, win... yay)

My friend, Shelly Bryant, listed in my blogroll just recommended duotrope last week - I have it bookmarked so I can investigate at will! By the way, Mary, you and Shelly sometimes remind me of each other, her sister and I were saying how much you'd like each others' posts - she teaches literature for third and fourth years in Singapore... fabulous discussions there if you ever want to peruse.

Hi Travis,

Thank you for the nudge - I only got in a half hour yesterday on the novel, but so far today I've gotten in a little over an hour and I have another hour alotted for it - wind and weather permitting...

Hi Angela,

So nice to meet you - two a day!!! That's fabulous, are they queries on already finished pieces or are they for proposed articles?

The rejection can take it out of you, but hopefully we'll both meet with enough small successes to keep us moving forward until we hit the goal.

Hey Ello,

I'll push if you push, shall we finish all our comments with - how much have you written today?

Anyone else who likes a little guilty nudge to keep focused, let me know, I'll be happy to cajole for you - Mary, you're already added to the list ;-)

Hi Jerseygirl,

You can post this anywhere you like, and I'm honored if you got that much out of it...

Thanks for the encouragement.

Anti-wife,

Luckily, I responded to all of these comments accurately through a rare form of osmosis...

Thanks for stopping by.

Ello said...

Ok - we are on, I did a little writing and more revising today. How did you do? I hope you were more productive than I was. However I do think that the revising I did was important so technically, still on track, right?

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Ello,

I took a few breaks for blogish goofing - though I still held back from some of my regular stops...

I did a little over two hours on my wip - all revision... so I think it's pretty important and therefore shall say you're on track. That's the thing about the editing phase, you can't tell progress by word count because you may be only changing a few paragraphs or phrases peppered throughout, etc...

In my case, I cut a whole character... and I really like him, it's the second one I've cut, though I think it's also the last. He was my main character's cousin and personally, I'd love to hang out with him and take in a cubs game, but his story didn't move and really didn't move the plot. The spots he filled could easily be filled by other side characters who do grow throughout the novel, so he was axed...

A loud round of applause for Jimmy Sicola, he would have been a fabulous fictional kid... maybe in another work.

Angela WD said...

Merry, my queries are for non-fiction story ideas, but I'm also sending out fiction submissions (a little slower than 2 a day). Fiction takes longer for me to write.

Yes, I'm a Chicagoan, and I'd love to hear in advance if you know of any readings or literary events going on. I don't want to miss anything!

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi angela,

I'm probably the wrong writer to ask about that - I'm just starting to look now for actual, real world literary events, I've mostly been mingling with other writers online (the kids are starting to get old enough for me to get back out there now - with the help of sitters). This week Columbia College is doing a whole series of guest readings for non-fiction writers - if you go to their website you can see which authors are left to fill out the next few days...

I can drop you a line on your blog, though, if I run across anything interesting - do you work in a specific fiction genre?

Ello said...

Merry - that sounds like great progress to me! WE'll have to check in again later tonight!

Shelly said...

Thanks for posting this, Merry. You know it's something I am working really hard at right now too — getting in the habit of submitting, and not letting that keep me from the ongoing writing that I need/want/love to do.

I've got a calendar of publications that include poetry. It's divided up by deadlines throughout the year. I've only included those publications that accept work from writers who are still early on in the process of getting work in print, which is where I consider myself. It has helped me a lot, I think. I've managed to get just over 20 poems in print and online magazines over the past 2 years, which is what I had aimed for. I've just found duotrope recently, so most of the leads for the works I've had published came from Poet's Market. I've picked up a few more similar resources recently, and will post on them when I get to see which are most effective. I do find that having some resources like this is very important, though. And staying disciplined... and thick skinned, of course!

I'm glad you've submitted to Glimmer Train, and all the best with that. It's a good story that you submitted, so I hope it will be accepted — and if not, that you'll keep it in circulation until it finds a good home in print.

So, the only thing left to ask is... what have you written today? (And please do keep me on your list of people to pester with that question. I need the push sometimes!)

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Shelly,

You know, I'm still getting the hang of researching markets... it's different for long fiction, I pour over lists of agents and arrange them, then number them by first to last choice (sorry agents) double check blogs and such to get a feel for them... it's a long process, which is why I think we're all so devestated by rejection with novels.

Now that I'm looking more into short story and essay markets, I almost feel as if I'm getting nothing done, when I'm really spending hours reading through various publications to get a feel for whether they're right for what I have or whether I might like to write something along their lines... ugh...

I've been making good progress with the wip since I wrote this - all revision. I mentioned somewhere that I cut a character, I don't think you'd even met him yet, he's in later chapters... I also found a running theme that I didn't realize was in there - funny how that happens, it just suddenly dawned on me that baseball ties in with my character's relationship with his father... anyway, I'm working up whole scenes to showcase that in light of the time period (the Cubs 2003 run at the post season)

I'm behind on my submission dateline - I started working on a juvenile fiction which I originally had earmarked for highlights or Cricket... but realized that this particular short could make a really good early chapter book - I've put that to the side because I need to research better on the format and protocal for early readers, I've read a ton with my kids but never written one... but looking through it again, as a short I have to leave a lot out of the story... anyway, once I decided to look at chapter books for that piece, four more story lines for that character popped into my head and I'm keeping a running list in a file for her.

I decided, to get myself back on actual publishing track, to work on The Examination - the one you read for me last year... It was written as a short short, so I have word count to play with and I think the character was a little flat in the original - I'm hoping to have a good draft by the end of the weekend and research markets early next week for submission...

And this is what I mean, it's hard to see progress, even though I'm having a screaming creative burst, it feels like too many directions at once and not enough movement forward.

sigh...

what have you written today? By the way, I think 20 publications in two years is awesome!