Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Maintaining Discipline


Today is November's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

Wondering if I have the necessary discipline to be a writer.  

I’m beginning to learn that writing, regardless of whether you’re a part-time or full-time writer, requires discipline.

Back when I had a 9-5 job and the demands of a family, I didn’t have a set schedule for writing. I wrote whenever I could find the time. Ten minutes here, 30 minutes there. The process wasn’t optimal, but it worked well enough to allow me to progress through my story. 

Today, I’m tutoring part-time, and my kids are old enough to take care of themselves. Yet despite the extra time available to me, I’m not being very efficient with how I use it. I still run downstairs to my office and write whenever I have the chance, but now I have more tasks to worry about. Author comps, cover design queries, critique groups, blog posts. I'll admit I've scarcely thought about these things  in the last several months. Heck, I even let the first Wednesday of the month sneak up on me once again, even though I had it marked on Google calendar. (Needless to say, I’m adding multiple reminders from now on.)

What I need is to work up a real schedule so my efficiency improves, but that’s easier said than done. My tutoring sessions vary from day to day, from week to week, so any schedules I might prepare would have to be viewed more as guidelines. And even if I do work up a reasonable schedule, I’ll admit I’ve never been good at following them. Bad author! Bad, bad author!

We'll see what happens.

Optional November question: Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

I write because it allows me to use my imagination and be creative. I write in the hopes that other people will enjoy seeing where my imagination takes them. That's pretty much it for me.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Editing Your Manuscript


Today is October's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The fact that I'm so disorganized that I need to be reminded by my writer friends to submit my monthly IWSG post Thank you, Loni Townsend. 

Seriously,  my insecurities are fairly low this month. I'm halfway through my self-edits on my debut urban fantasy.  Since I know the second half of my manuscript is in better shape than the first, that means I'm well over halfway finished. Woo-hoo! My hope is to be able to hand it off to an editor before the year is over. 

My biggest insecurities at the moment come whenever I read other authors' stories, especially if I read them before editing my manuscript. I'm currently reading Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews and Fated by Benedict Jacka. Both authors have a way with words that are way behind my skillset. Those tears you see in my eyes when I read their stories aren't a result of their all-is-lost moments. They are tears of envy. 

Optional October question: When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

I imagine someone sitting in front of their computer several hours a day, pounding out their next story with one hand while holding their favorite beverage in the other. Right now I feel like an aspiring writer, both because I haven't finished my story yet and because I waste too much time doing non-writing related things. I have this dream that once I publish my story, I'll feel like a real working writer, but we'll see.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Watching Your Progeny Go Off To School


Today is September's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an insecure writer this month? Because by the time you read this, I will be in Chicago, dropping my son off for his very first day in college. :(

It’s a bittersweet time for the Rahmoeller family as we watch our son head off to school. We’re proud of how he’s matured over his last year of high school and we wish him well on this new phase of his life, but we’re going to miss him terribly. He's the second in our family to graduate high school, but our daughter chose to attend local colleges so we were spared the separation anxiety for a couple of years.

If his school was closer, he'd probably drive home every weekend (he loves driving!), but Chicago is five hours away from Detroit, so that's not going to happen. Thanks goodness for Skype. Fortunately, my wife and I have enough flexibility in our lives that we’ll be able to visit him when the urge becomes too great.

So how did you guys handle it when your firstborn went off to college?

BTW, since I'll be traveling this week, I won't have a chance to visit your blogs this time around.  See you next month.

Optional September question: If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

Jim Butcher – I’ve always enjoyed his writing style. Simple, straightforward words that paint a complex picture without being too flowery. I suspect that having him as a beta partner for a couple of years would have vastly improved my rather simplistic writing style.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Realizing I Was Never Cut Out To Be a Full-time Writer

Today is August's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

The realization that I never would have made it as a full-time writer back when I was younger.
Here I am in 2020, with plenty of free time due to COVID-19, and my writing progress has been abysmal. Yes, I’m making steady progress on my stories, and I AM happy about that, but not nearly as much as I should be. I spend way too much time on non-writing related activities to be a productive writer. Watching too much TV. Puttering around the house. Getting up late in the morning. Finding reasons to do anything other than sitting down in front of the computer. I’m squandering away precious time.
Thank goodness I didn’t try being a full-time writer back when I had a growing family. We would have starved.
Then again, maybe the desperation to feed my family would have forced me to be more productive. Perhaps fear would have woken me earlier in the mornings, or kept me from watching TV, or doing anything other than writing. Assuming that's the case, how can I  generate that same urgency to write now in 2020? What kind of stick can I use to make myself more accountable as a writer? I suppose a financial crisis that wiped out our savings would do the trick, but I’d rather find a less stressful method.  

How do you guys drive yourself to write more?

Writing isn’t the only area where my progress has been glacial. My plan of ramping up my marketing platform over the course of 2020 is also way behind. My big accomplishment this month was finally buying the domain name for my new author website. All things considered, that’s a rather small step in my journey to publication, yet I easily wasted a week of research convincing myself to pull the trigger. My next step should be setting up the website, but at the rate I'm going, we'll be well into autumn before I work up the nerve to do that. 

Any suggestions on which Wordpress themes work best for authors?
Optional August question: Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

When I first dreamed up the story for my debut novel, I wasn’t thinking about genre. I knew it would be fantasy with elements of science, but that was about it.  Only as I neared the end of the first draft did it occur to me that my story might be considered urban fantasy. I say might, since almost all urban fantasy these days seem to have paranormal creatures like witches, wizards, shifters, vampires, dragons, fae, etc., whereas mine doesn’t. So now I'm not so sure what my genre is.

Is there such a thing as urban “science” fantasy?

Be sure to stop by the other co-hosts this month. Susan Baury RouchardNancy GideonJennifer Hawes, Jennifer Lane, and Chrys Fey 

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Having Too Much Time For My Own Good

Today is July's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

An utter lack of discipline.

Once again, I totally missed the first Wednesday of the month IWSG blog post. I knew it was coming, even thought about it last weekend. But did I act on this knowledge? Of course not.

There is no excuse. I have more time for writing and writing related things than I’ve ever had before. Especially these last few months when COVID-19 pretty much decimated my chemistry tutoring gig. Back when I held a full-time day job, I had to fight and scramble for every minute of writing time. Not only did I make progress with my story, but I managed to blog once a week and critique other authors’s books. It’s as if now that I have all this time, I can’t focus on my author career.

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that I need to start scheduling my activities. I’ve never needed schedules before, but then again, I’ve never had this much time to waste either.

Thank God I didn’t try making this writing thing a full-time career ten years ago. My family would have starved.

Optional July question: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade? 

All I want is software that can read my mind and write my story for me. An electronic ghost writer of sorts. 

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Insecure Writer And a Lack of Discipline

Today is June's (belated) contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

The fact that if it wasn't for other writers commenting on my blog, I would never have remembered it was ISWG post day. Arg.....!

I have more time for writing-related things these days, especially what with COVID-19 keeping me around the house. And yet, I still managed to forget about this post. Heck, I'm doing a poor job of posting on this blog in general. My only excuse is that progress on my current WIP is slow enough that I feel guilty about working on anything related to writing other than my WIP. 

Photo courtesy of VisualHunt

If I expect my writing career to go anywhere, I'll have to learn how to spend my writing time more wisely, because the demands on my time will only mushroom once I publish my first story.

Optional June question: Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work? 

Perhaps some of you know this already, but I kind of hate writing. Seriously, I always have. It's why I didn't take up writing fiction until about ten years ago. Putting my thoughts down on paper has always been a struggle. Only after a chapter reaches a certain level of polish do I find the writing to be enjoyable. Ninety percent of the time, however, I'm beating my head against the keyboard. 

If that strikes you as depressing, I should point out that I enjoy telling stories, so I'm willing to do whatever it takes to deliver a story that readers would like, no matter how long it takes. My hope is that my readers never pick up on the I-hate-the-writing part.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Slogging My Way Through a Sequel

Today is May's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

Staring blankly at the early stages of my second novel and remembering just how much work it was to write the first one. 

Don't get me wrong. I am making progress on the sequel to the novel I finished (mostly) at the end of last year. But every time I sit down in front of the computer to write these days, I'm daunted by the number of words I need to write before the first draft is finished.

Three hundred pages may not have seemed so overwhelming back when I wrote the first book, but that book was written over the course of four to five years. That's works out to about 5 pages a month, a nice leisurely pace that allowed me to write when the muse took me, work at my day job, and still enjoy life. I wasn't worried about how long it might be before I typed "The End."

Fast forward to the present, when I no longer have a full-time day job, the COVID virus is giving me an excuse to stay home and write, and my goal is to finish the sequel in a year. Suddenly, writing an entire book all over again seems like an impossible task. My rough draft currently stands at eighty pages, which means I'm only a quarter of the way through. How did I ever manage to write three hundred pages the first time? 

Optional May 6 question: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? 

I find that showers are a good way for me to get into the zone. Thinking about a scene while in the shower not only brings it more to life, but the words to tell that story seem to flow out of me, as if I'm dictating the story to someone. The trick is to rush out of the shower as soon as I can so I can write the words down before I forget them.

Unfortunately, I can only take so many showers in a day, so my second ritual is to spend half an hour reading a book whose voice or genre is similar to mine. It puts me into a writing mindset, and once again, the words flow out of me that much easier when I put the book down. 

COVID family update. The family is finding new ways to keep themselves entertained during our self-imposed isolation. My wife has gotten into jigsaw puzzles. Even our cats are doing their part to help out.
My wife and our cat Smokey, arguing over the positioning of a puzzle piece.

Don't forget to visit the other co-hosts for this month. Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, and Kim Lajevardi.

Take care everyone, and stay safe!