Writing through the Fear of Mediocrity

I have this fear. I fear I’ll end up just mediocre so I tend to not try, so that way I can never say I failed. I can never celebrate my accomplishments either. It’s a crappy state to be in. It’s why I never wrote all that seriously. If I never finish anything, I can never worry that it’s not good enough. But who wants to live that way? I found Nanowrimo at my lowest point (well, my lowest writing point we’ll say) and I thought I’d give novel writing a shot after writing screenplays…or parts of screenplays for so long.

What a breath of fresh air this cliché is not and Nanowrimo was! I didn’t finish the story I was doing but I hit my 50k and that was empowering. I made writing friends with the community that Nano has built and was spurred on to keep writing more. It still took a little time before I was writing more regularly, but it was a start.

I now have my first complete novel that I’m editing (yes, I’ve blogged this all before. Shush). The point of this is that you can’t let the worry get you down. My words will never be perfect no matter how many times I change them. I can edit until my fingers bleed and I pass out from the lack of nutrients coffee doesn’t bring and it will still have mistakes or could be changed, could be better. We are not perfect which means our beautiful babies will never be perfect either. The great thing is: everyone else is flawed too! I’ve read plenty of traditionally published books and found mistakes or an overuse of words. It seems readers don’t mind little mistakes if you have a good story to tell. That and a fun and different voice. Now, don’t start panicking that your voice isn’t different or that your story is like everyone else’s. Again, I have read published works that aren’t perfect. Just write the best story you can. If you write it, they will come. Your voice will always be different because YOU’RE the one writing. No one else can write quite like you, but that’s a motivational blog for another day.

Now, one of you needs to remind me of this often as I tend to be a little forgetful….

I like everything so I write almost anything.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I know not only am I still finding my voice in my writing, but also what topics/genres I like to cover. With movie watching, I’m a jack-of-all-trades. My reading is a little like that too. It should stand to reason that my ideas are all over the place. I seem to stick to action in my books so far, but there is a contemporary romance that is itching to go (even if I have no clue how to keep a book moving forward without action). It makes me wonder, am I an oddball writing different genres and categories?

My first completed novel is what I call YA low fantasy. There is a little paranormal activity (mind powers, not ghosts) so I guess it could also be low paranormal. Whichever you want to call it, there is a little romance and a lot more monkey bites, near death experiences, and a quest to find the friend.  Second novel that is about 56k in at the moment has monsters, deaths, human hunting rednecks, and aliens. No clue what I’m labeling that one yet. Again, action with a hint of a romance.
But what of my other ideas? What of the other little gems I truly hope to someday write? A few of them have similar lines to the two above. A few of them don’t. The next one that really really wants to bug me as of late is a contemporary love story with a teeny tiny part alien. How many other writers veer all over the map with their writing choices? I see so many stay within a certain box for their stories. They write paranormal romance or fantasy and that is it. It’s what their fans know them for. It’s what fans look for in their writing. It scares me a little knowing I’m all over the place. Will this alienate potential readers? Am I shooting myself in the foot not sticking with one category or genre (did I mention monster, human hunters has a 19 year-old MC? Not exactly YA in content either)?

Maybe I’ll eventually stick to one thing and maybe I won’t. I know not every author has one given genre and that is all they write. Look at J. K. Rowling recently. Then again, she wasn’t sure how people would take to the mystery so she used a pen name. I do have a pen name at the ready, should I need it. Time will tell since I would need to get published first to even have this worry! One step at a time, but I like to think ahead. I’m a planner like that.

Overall, I know it will be the writing that does the talking for me, not the genre. I am aiming to make my writing its best and try to worry on the other stuff later. Still, I’m a worrier. It’s what I do. I ponder random crap at silly times. Goal 1: Finish editing Circus. Goal 2: Finish drafting Monsters, Rednecks, and Zombies, Oh My! (working title). Goal 3: Query Circus to agents. Goal 4: Um, write more stuff.  Past this list, I’m trying not to think too far ahead.

What about you? Do you write in one strict genre? Two? More? I’m curious how many other writers out there dabble. Who knows, maybe there’s more of us than the traditionalists!

Genre or Wait, What is My Book?

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you will clearly see that I’m no authority on writing (or much else). I’m stumbling along as I go, writing whatever comes to mind about writing.

Today’s topic of confusion: Genre. Ah, that pesky little demon that can be as simple as romance or mystery to as complicated as Dystopian Paranormal Romance (ok, I made that one up, but I’ve seen some lengthy ones on occasion).

When writing my little circus story, I just wrote. I didn’t think about genre. I knew it was Young Adult (which surprised the heck out of me since I hadn’t written YA before) and that was about it. *Side Note: I know YA is a category before anyone hunts me down. If I ever accidentally call it a genre, I’m just being lazy. You know, like Kleenex being every facial tissue ever made? Sorta like that. Now back to the show*

With the first draftedidee draft done, I was excited and relieved. I had finished my first ever novel. I rested and celebrated. Then I hyperventilated as I thought about editing. I’d never edited something like this before. Papers for school would be edited as I wrote, but fiction is a different writing process in every way for me.

So being the good writer that I am, I did what anyone else would have done—-procrastinated by researching agents and query letters. It is here that I realized I had no clue what genre my novel fell into. It’s set in the here and now with a circus run by a man that forces people to perform for it so he can feed off of their energy and the patrons’. A whole lot of mind powers going on, but an otherwise mostly realistic world.

I began researching genre and what genres were out there. My poor little story didn’t seem to quite fit anything that I came upon. I’ve settled for low fantasy at the moment, but I can’t say I love that classification.

Have you ever done a search for genre? Eek, it’s scary and confusing. No wonder I’m still just as lost today as I was the first time I decided to christen my novel! I will list a small few of sites I found to list genres but with subgenres, the possibilities seem endless.

http://www.writing.com/main/list_items/type/genre

http://www.theguardian.com/books/list/booksgenres

http://www.ask.com/wiki/List_of_literary_genres

http://www.ask.com/wiki/Category:Novels_by_genre

So, do your homework and try to categorize as best as you can, but know that most of us are as lost as you if you don’t have an easily genrefied novel. Come as close as you can when you querying (or so I keep reading) and put most of that worry into making your book the best it possibly can be!

Happy writing.

Shake It off/Talk it out

So I had this whole post ready about my frustrations on editing (those frustrations are really still the same). I feel as if I’m standing still yet moving forward. Baby steps are in mm and it is taking me way longer than I hoped to get this book ready for the real world.

This isn’t that post. As I said, all of those feelings still apply, but as I wrote out that other post and whined on Twitter, something miraculous happened: I had an epiphany. I am still a little scared of said epiphany because this means that yet another character’s POV will be thrown into the equation, but I’m excited to see how things go from the villain’s POV.

So that brings me to my actual point: don’t forget the things that help you get to your destination. For me, this is talking things out. What looks like complaints and whining to some is me trying to wrap my head around what is wrong. Often times, the more I say something, the less it bugs me. It also helps to unburden my brain with one less worry that doesn’t need to be there.

The moral of the story: Do what you need to in order to get things to work out. If you need to take a break from a story, do it. Go read, watch tv, or harass other people until you feel like you can come back with fresh eyes. Editing a pain in your behind? Ask others for help, look at how other authors do it, or again, take a break. If whining helps you figure out your next move, do it. To hell with what other people think.

I still don’t love editing. Many of the problems I’ve been stressed about will still be there after I write these new chapters, but I hope I’ll have a slightly different perspective when I’m done with them. Either way, I’m back on my feet for the time being and headed in a forward direction. Until I’m not, I’ll just keep on trucking. So I guess that means the other moral of the story is: Don’t Quit.

Now, go write something or you know, whine about something.

Dreaming Big

After attending the Write Camp unconference in Milwaukee,WI  this year, I got to thinking how I would love to have something like that where I live. Not that I’m far from Milwaukee, but any excuse to have writers get together and learn is good enough for me.

Write Camp is free. Anyone who wants to teach a session does so and anyone who wants to show up, the same. The only real rule is the rule of two feet: if you don’t like the session you’re in, feel free to leave and check out a different one. This rule comes in very handy when you want to see many sessions all planned at the same time.

Starting small is my goal. Finding out how many other writers would want to (and be able to)  come to Southeastern WI. How many would even be interested? Another goal would be to provide sessions/lessons that writers can find useful.

So I finally come to my point: How many would be interested in a free writerly learning experience and if something like this was available to you, what kinds of sessions would you like to see?

Another thought (separate thing) would be to do something online. Have a Skype chat or something similar to get writers together.

I would love to hear everyone’s opinions and thoughts in the comments!

Of Contests and Patience

Pretty contests. Pretty, pretty contests. Do you know what it’s like to have a finished (but not finished) manuscript when contests come rolling around?! It’s AGONY! I want to reach out and pet them.  I want to be truly finished so bad and I know I’m close. It is a terrible situation to be in. I know most of the major plot holes are fixed. Characters are well-formed, and, reading through it, I don’t hate it. It’s not done, though. There are still small nuances that I have to sneak in. Better wording. More visuals and less telling. More depth can still be added into the characters. In other words, it’s not finished and most definitely not ready for an agent’s keen eye.

It is an ugly lesson in patience that I have to keep reminding myself about each time a new contest screams “Enter me” (go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait). Ok, are you better now? Back to what I was saying. I have to think how mortified I would be to send my MS as-is to an agent right this second, and that puts me in my place. Being a perfectionist is finally coming in handy! Let this be a lesson to us all: WAIT! You want to send the best possible version of your baby into the world, right? Sending it to contests when it is “almost” polished really isn’t doing you any favors, and you are giving agents a less than stellar idea of your work. Why not give them the best it can be rather than the okayest it is right now?

The other temptation is all these success stories! People who met their CP’s or found their agent through a contest. I wanna be a success too (imagine this said in whiniest voice possible).  This is probably why the lure of the contests is so strong. We are weakened by the possibility of hearing/seeing those magic little words “Full request” or even “Partial request.” So easily swayed, we writers are. Dangle a piece of paper that says Request and watch our eyes glaze over.

I will continue writing the new work that has been reignited recently and let my circus baby sit so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. I will run through it again and let other eyes tear it apart with their laser beam precision (Jason, that’s you, for starters). I will make this baby sparkle and shine before it is subjected to the mercies of any contests. Besides, if you’re on Twitter, you might have noticed by now, there is always a contest. Every few months, another one pops up. So let’s all vow together that we will not fall prey to the siren song of the contest….shiny….no, fight the shiny pretty! *internet connection goes dead*

Just a quick bit of info

So, if you follow @xHeatherxMariex on Twitter or her blog, you should see that she is giving away a…..KINDLE!  I love to support other writers so I thought I would just share that she is doing this fabulous little giveaway. Make sure to mosey over to http://heatherxmarie.blogspot.com/2013/05/kindle-giveaway.html?m=1

and get your chance to win. And while you’re there, make sure to read some of her other posts. Enjoy!