Writing Means Failing A Lot

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I am really starting to understand why the word “persistence” comes up so often when writers talk about what it takes to be successful. While decluttering my writing space and organizing files on my hard drive, I faced the eye-opening reality that I’ve been at this writing thing for ten years, (at least in the quasi-professional sense). Ten years. And I don’t have a lot to show for it other than a few teeny tiny publishing credits.

My journals and files say otherwise. I’ve written two novels, more poems than I can count (there are about 1,000 haikus alone), and more than 1,000 blog posts (this one blows my mind the most!). Writing is the easy part. Finding an audience is a little tougher. Getting published feels almost impossible.

My rejection folder is enormous. I have an interesting relationship with this stack of rejection. On one hand, it’s hard not to take it personally. It is after all one agent after another telling me they aren’t interested in what I poured my heart into. On the other, it’s nothing personal. We all have opinions about what we like to read. My only saving grace is that I’ve never had an literary agent tell me my writing sucks and that I should just give up. I know writers get this sometimes and so far I’ve been lucky. It’s just frustrating on so many levels that I can’t seem to break through the barriers.

The soul crushing truth is writing means failing a lot. Not only in the ridiculous number of failed drafts, but in the process as a whole.

Yet, I persist. I’m too stubborn to let the failure win.

I took a little break from the query process to regroup after the last batch of rejections, (30 rejections hit pretty hard). Then, last month I took a writing workshop on query letters and the synopsis. While much of the information wasn’t anything new to me, I still walked away with a renewed sense of purpose. It’s amazing what being among writers in the same situation can do!

This week I sent off a brand new volley of query packages. I must be a glutton for punishment. Most writers seem to be, so I’m in good company. As a matter of fact, I already got my first rejection from this batch. It was pretty swift and painful, but not unexpected.

I’m bracing myself for more to come, but I keep reminding myself I only need one yes. All the no’s don’t matter, it’s the yes I’m after.

Persistence is key.

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c.b.w. 2017

 

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2015 Goals: August Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

All rewrites and adjustments are officially finished! The Muse has a new beginning and all plot holes in the epilogue have been plugged. Yes, I did quite the little happy dance!

The process took much longer than I would have liked, but cutting an entire chapter was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Ultimately, I know I made the right decision and I don’t regret taking my time to get it right.

Armed with my reconfigured novel, I’m looking to start the query process once again. I pulled up my query letter tracker (i.e. spreadsheet) and updated it with possible targets. Let the games begin!

2. Start writing Lineage.

While plugging plot holes in The Muse, I added to my notes for Lineage. This month was all about world-building. Lineage will take my characters to a place that exists somewhere between myth and reality, (more so than already established in The Muse).

I’ve been doing some really fun research to determine what this pseudo-reality might look like (the colors and textures of Kartchner Caverns and Mammoth Cave are tickling my muse right now!), while also figuring out the characters who live there. Ever heard of a rogue muse? Well, you will! Stay tuned!

3. Submit poetry.

It was a good month for poetry! Partial results for the 2015 April Poem A Day Challenge (via Poetic Asides on Writer’s Digest) have been posted and I was thrilled to see my name listed in the Top 10 for Days 6 and 11. Considering the sheer number of entries (upwards of 900 to 1000 each day), I am both humbled and amazed to be included among the finalists. Results are still coming, so stay tuned!

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. As always, I find the prompts challenging and the community inspiring.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. August prompts all started with the letter T and they were so much fun! I completed the month with at least one haiku a day.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

Despite the start of a new school year, (the busiest time of the year for teachers!), I managed to keep my muse focused on writing when I wasn’t at work. No matter how tired I am, the day isn’t over until I’ve written something!

5. Be flexible.

To close out August I decided to experiment with the haiku form, yet again. While I love the three line format in both traditional and contemporary haiku, I am intrigued by the single line format. It’s tricky and requires precise word choice. The examples I’ve seen are either amazing or weirdly abstract, which has left me leery of trying it out for myself.  Well, I finally jumped in and started playing with single line poetry. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m loving the challenge.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

Let The Insanity Begin . . .

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To all those NaNoWriMo participants, everything worth celebrating begins in the same way. Someone, somewhere decided to try.

Making the decision is half the battle!

Today is the day your novel begins!  May your muse be chatty and your typing swift.

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c.b.w. 2012

Just Believe

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The first time I heard the name Mary Wollstonecraft was back in college during a women’s studies history class.  I admired her right from the start for not only having a strong voice, but the courage to use it at a time when women were largely expected to be silent.  Her writings have an air of elegance, but they are also among the first to advocate equality between genders, which made her one of the first feminists in history. She had guts, intelligence, and fortitude when the whole world told her women had no right to any of those things. Still, she believed.

Wollstonecraft died well before the women’s rights movement took off in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, so she never got to see the ideals she supported take shape.  Seneca Falls, the suffrage movement in Europe and America, and a slew of other gender related battles took place long after her words. Long after there was any hope of them coming true.  She still believed, when all seemed impossible.

There are, of course, many individuals who contributed to the long journey of women’s rights, but I have a soft spot for Wollstonecraft.  She understood the importance of believing in something even when it seems so far out of reach.  While an incredibly difficult thing to do, it is well within our grasp if we make the choice to believe.

For the last two years, I’ve chosen “believe” to be my word of the year.  It appears throughout my home – on the refrigerator, end table, dream board, as well as several hidden places where I’ll unexpectedly happen upon it one day – to help keep me focused.  A couple of months ago I made a necklace with a “believe” charm to wear on days when doubt threatens to steal my determination.

"Believe" Beaded Necklace, created by c.b.w.

Each strand of the pendant has charms that I chose for both meaning and sparkle.  I’ve always loved leaves and their ability to bloom even after a cold winter, while dragonflies are the epitome of strength and grace.  On the third strand is the all important “believe” ring, an infinite tribute to the idea of believing without fail.  Just as Wollstonecraft kept writing, so will I.

My goals for this year are daunting and the propensity for rejection is immense.  How easy it would be to give up, but . . . I won’t.  I must believe.

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Factoid: Wollstonecraft’s daughter is Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame.

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c.b. 2012