Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Hiding From Editorial Critiques


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The fact that my editor returned my manuscript, and I have yet to open it.

Yep, it finally happened. The editor returned my manuscript with all her suggested changes. That was twenty-three days ago.  Now I'll admit life’s been busy this November. We're preparing for our son to return home from school. We had a Covid scare just before Thanksgiving. It took a few days to recover from Thanksgiving dinner. But this is procrastination of the highest order. I’m simply too chicken to start the editing process. 

Photo by Zachariah Smith on Unsplash

I did read the editorial letter that accompanied the manuscript (Yay, me!), and all things considered, it sounds as though I don’t have too many major issues to fix. But that hasn’t prevented me from finding other projects to occupy my time. Heck, I only think about the manuscript when my editor writes me and asks me what I thought about her comments. 😔

It’s not like I’ve been ignoring my writerly duties. I’m already working on the sequel, and although first drafts can be stressful (see this month’s question), I’m finding it much less stressful than reading the editor’s comments and figuring out what to do about them. It's not like I'm in a hurry. I won't be releasing this book until the sequel is done, so there's no pressure to start. Thank goodness I'm not depending upon writing to feed my family.

December's question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

Putting words down on the paper stresses me. I know this sounds strange for a writer to say, but it's the truth. I’m not a natural writer, so it often feels like pulling teeth to knock out a scene. Even after I write the first draft, beating it into shape can be exhausting for me, often taking days or weeks (or occasionally months) to fix.

What delights me is when the scene finally comes together and I can sit back and be proud of what I’ve written. For a guy who grew up hating to write, that’s saying something.

This month’s co-hosts are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray! Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

And on a totally unrelated note... for those of you who love cats and Jurassic Park, enjoy the video.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Being Happy the Editor Is Still Working On My Manuscript


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The good news is that my editor only has fifty pages left to edit. The bad news is that she only has fifty pages left to edit. 😔😔

I'm been pretty relaxed (meaning unproductive) on the writing front these past couple of months. I work on the sequel whenever I can, and I spend lots of time reading about marketing. But as far as my original manuscript is concerned (the one with the editor), out of sight means out of mind. I hardly ever think about it--except when my editor sends me a update on her progress and my bowels tighten a little more. 

Eventually the manuscript is going to be returned, and that's scary. God knows how many changes I'll have to make, or how long it will take to make them. I've sometimes found it hard to buckle down and work on the sequel, but once I get my manuscript back from the editor, I suspect I'll be finding all sorts of reasons to work on the sequel instead of dealing with the edits.

November's question: What's harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

Writing the blurb, definitely. A blurb has to convey so much to the prospective buyer. Who the main character is. What he/she wants. What's stopping them from reaching that goal, and what are the stakes?  

A title just has to sound cool and make the reader say hmmm....

Besides, a title is way shorter.
Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Insecure Writer and All The Little Publishing Decisions


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

To be honest, not all that much. My editor is currently busy editing my story, and I’m keeping myself occupied working on the sequel. It’s progressing nicely, BTW, so it probably won’t take five years to finish this one. I hope. 😊

What does keep me up late at night are all the decisions I’ll eventually have to make before I publish. What software should I power my author website with. (I know I’ll be using Wordpress, but what template should I use? Which engine gives me the most flexibility?) Who should I hire to create my cover? Should I format my books myself, or should I hire someone else to do it? Should I go Amazon only, or should I go wide? There are dozens of decisions to make and I’m simply not ready for that.

I monitor blogs and Facebook groups where questions like these are discussed, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that for every answer I find, I discover ten more questions I haven’t even thought of yet. I could dedicate a year combing through all the old posts and I still wouldn’t be ready. I understand this is a learning process, but I don’t want to publish a dozen books before I have a clue either.
October's question: In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

I’m not into foul language (although that doesn’t stop me from using them occasionally in real life), so I’m not into characters that use them frequently. You’ll rarely see words in my story that I wouldn’t use in front of my mom.

As far as topics are concerned, I want my stories to be fun romps into escapism, so you won’t see me tackle controversial or uncomfortable topics. I have a hard enough time trying to transform the thoughts in my head down onto words on a page, so the last thing I need is to incorporate any topic that’s particularly deep. I’ll leave that to the writers who know what they’re doing.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Sending Your Baby Off To The Editor


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The fact that I just sent my debut manuscript off to my editor.

I’ve always felt I had a pretty good handle on my manuscript, at least as far as typos and errors were concerned. I have a knack for spotting them, and considering that I’ve reread every chapter in my manuscript at least a hundred times (minimum), I assumed simple errors would have been stamped out by now. But as I read through the manuscript one last time before shipping it off to the editor, it became clear to me just how easily errors can slip through.

And that keeps me up at night.

Well, so what, you say. Who cares if a few errors slip through now? I’m still in the editing stages, and more errors will inevitably slip in later while I’m revising based on the editor’s suggestions. But what about later when all the editing is done and I’m finally ready to publish the darn thing? Will I be able to click on that "upload manuscript" button, or will I keep searching my manuscript over and over again, searching for that last elusive error?

I know that errors are inevitable, and that all books have them, but that doesn't make me feel any better.

September's question: How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

I’ll consider myself a successful writer the instant I upload my first book to Amazon. Period. It’ll be an ebook, of course, but that’s okay by me. I’m sure I'll eventually put together a print version, if only so I can have a physical copy or two of my own to sit on my desk. 

As far as income goes, I do have  a target in mind, but whether or not I meet that goal won't determine if I'm a successful writer or not. All that will determine is whether my writing is a career, or an expensive hobby.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


P.S. Do any of you know any good proofreaders?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Insecure Writer and the Pleasure of Pushing Back Deadlines


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

Actually, not much.

Some of you may remember from last month that I was worried my editor was about to send me an email announcing she was ready for my manuscript--a manuscript that I was still deep in the middle of revising. In fact, I received the dreaded email about three hours after my IWSG post. Yikes!

The good news, and the reason I'm much more relaxed this month, is that she was able to switch my editing slot with that of another writer, which means she won't need my manuscript until sometime in September. Woohoo! And if that wasn't reason enough to celebrate, it turns out my revisions are moving along at a nice, steady pace, so I should have my manuscript ready long before September rolls around. Nothing like an extension to relieve the pressures of editing.

Of course, if I haven't finished my edits by next month's IWSG post, then my insecurity levels will once again skyrocket.

August's question: What is your favorite writing craft book? 

To be honest, I'm probably much more interested in reading everyone's answer than answering the question myself. Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell was my go-to book back when I was first learning to write. Since then, I've been so busy trying to finish my manuscript, I've neglected my pile of craft books. 

Bad author! Bad, bad author! 

P.S. I am reading craft books these days, but they're all about marketing books, not writing them.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Waiting For Your Editor's Email


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The fact that it’s almost time to send my manuscript to the editor.

Back in January, I finished adding the final touches to the manuscript I’ve been working on for well over five years. It had already been through two critique groups by then, so I felt it was time to send it off to an editor. Turns out my preferred editor is in demand, so she couldn’t pencil me in until July. At the time, I was disappointed at the delay, but after a beta-reader pointed out some problems with the story a few months ago, I was grateful for the extra time to fix things up.

But now it’s finally July, and the editor will be emailing me any day now, asking for my manuscript, and that makes me anxious. What will she think of the story? How many changes will she suggest? How much work will it take to fix them? I’m not so wedded to my words that changing things here and there will bother me overmuch, but what if she points out problems I’m not a good enough writer to fix?

Those of you who have worked with multiple editors on multiple projects may chuckle at this last concern, but to me it's a real possibility. I want this story to be as good as it can be, and I'm deathly afraid I'll be the biggest factor holding it back.

July's question: What would make you quit writing? 

Very little, as I’m having too much fun doing it. Only if it became too painful to write, either physically or because of severe emotional trauma, would I consider stopping. Oh, and I suppose going blind would probably do it too. I need to see the words on the page for me to write.   

By the way, be sure to stop by the other co-hosts for this month: Pat GarciaVictoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Dealing With Revisions


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The tedious process of revising my debut manuscript.

It’s not as if I haven’t already edited the heck out of my novel over the past five years. It’s been through two critique groups, and I’ve gone through it myself so many times I practically have it memorized. In fact, I felt it was in good enough shape to schedule a copy edit with a professional editor. All seemed to be good.

Then I sent a copy to a beta reader who has some experience with urban fantasies (Thanks, Loni).

Unfortunately, she found a few problems in areas I hadn’t considered. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but she basically had a problem with both the protagonist and the antagonist. Arg! Nothing that can't be fixed, mind you, but some of those fixes will require major modifications to the story and that’s what’s setting off my insecurities.

I’ve always had difficulty making changes to scenes I felt were essentially finished. Once I have the scene the way I like it, I have a hard time imagining the scene happening in any other way. It's a mental thing. I’m making my way through my manuscript, tackling scenes one at a time, but it's slow process. Changes in one scene often necessitate making changes elsewhere in the story. My biggest fear is that after I finish all these revisions, the professional editor will come back with all sorts of new problems, requiring yet another painful rewrite.

And I thought writing the first draft was hard.

June's question: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? 

Maybe this isn’t the best way to write, but I’m constantly going back and editing chapters even as I’m working on the first draft. Since I’m such a slow writer, however, it may be six to twelve months before I return to a chapter I’ve already worked on, which gives me plenty of time to look at the words with fresh eyes.  

Take care everyone, and stay safe!