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! 


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Frittering Away My Writing Time


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The worry that I might not have the drive to be a commercially successful writer.

Don’t get me wrong. I like writing. But life keeps you busy, and a writer has to be strong enough to stay productive even when life is happening all around them. Between my tutoring schedule, my wife’s car accident, doing the taxes, and all the other stuff life threw at me lately, I simply haven’t done much in the way of writing. 

It’s not like I haven’t had some time to write. I just haven’t made use of the time I did have available. I read so many stories of writers working full time jobs, taking care of their families, and still pumping out story after story. And here I am, frittering away the spare moments I do have. Heck, it's 11:50 pm and I'm scrambling to finish the day's IWSG post. 

What's going to happen when I have to worry about marketing the book?

Thanks for listening. 


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Not Knowing What Life Has Planned For You


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

Not knowing what life is about to deal you.

I’m a bit late with my post today. Not particularly unusual for me, but this time I have an excuse. Instead of spending Tuesday writing a post about the insecurities of editing your manuscript based on your beta reader’s input, I spent most of it in the emergency room after my wife and son were in an automobile accident.
Long story short, a car ran a red light and T-boned the passenger side of our car. My son was driving, so my wife took the brunt of the impact. The ambulance came and took her to the hospital. I took my son there a few hours later when he started developing some pain too.

Notice the several deployed airbags

As a writer, I suppose I should wait until the end of the post to let you know how it all came out, but since we’re all friends here, I’ll let you know that, besides some aches and bruises, everyone is okay. 

But that doesn’t mean the ten hours we spent in the emergency room were not without some scares. They found a fracture in my wife’s C1 vertebrae, the one at the very top of her spine, so they put a neck brace on her. The neurosurgeon told us that, assuming my wife didn’t need surgery, she’d have to wear the brace for at least 6 weeks. They did some more tests, then an orderly came by to do a COVID test, suggesting that they were planning on admitting her to the hospital. Then they performed another test or two, and then finally two hours later, the doctor came by to announce that my wife could take the brace off. The fracture was small enough it would take care of itself.

Talk about a relief. I thought my wife’s eyes were about to bug out when the doctor told us. So now we're back home, resting and recuperating.

The moral of the story is simply this. While you’re sitting in front of your keyboard and slaving away on your story, always remember that you never know what life has planned for you. Maybe your next story will be a success, maybe it won’t. It doesn’t matter. You’ve always got another story waiting inside you. Your job is keep pecking away at the keyboard and let life figure out what’s going to happen with it.

Oh, and always wear seat belts.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Those Darned Roadblocks


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The inevitable stoppages in my writing progress. 

Some of you may remember that even though I'm working through edits on my debut urban fantasy, I’ve already begun working on the sequel. When you’re a slow writer like me, it’s best to keep the pipeline moving at all times. Progress has been good, but this month I finally hit one of those irritating roadblocks where the writing comes screeching to a halt.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I didn’t expect this scene to be particularly tough. The protagonist has to sneak into the bad guy’s lair and steal something. But this was a scene I hadn’t initially planned on writing and the decisions I was forced to make brought the writing to a standstill. What would be the setting? Where would the bad guys be located and how many would there be? What special obstacles would be present that made this scene unique? And how would I weave it all together in a way that maximizes the reader’s entertainment. Needless to say, after a week or two of ineffectual floundering , I moved onto to the next scene, if only to retain my sanity.

This is how my writing always seems to work. I make good progress for a couple of weeks, and just when I think I've finally figured this whole writing thing out, something like this comes along and nothing gets written for a couple of weeks, bringing my productivity back down to its usual annoyingly slow pace. Who says writing is easy?

March's question: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice? 

Several years ago, I read both science fiction and fantasy, both paranormal and urban, but now that I’m writing urban fantasy, that’s pretty much the only genre I read these days. If I had more time to read, I’d probably read more genres, but slow writers don’t have that luxury.
I’m proud to announce that I’m one of this month’s co-hosts. Please be sure to stop by the other co-host blogs and say hi. 

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Tackling the Sequel


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

Working on the sequel to my debut urban fantasy.

It may seem strange to be working on the sequel when the first story hasn’t even seen an editor yet. I should be occupying my time with finding a cover designer, or polishing up my website, or reaching out to other authors, but here I am, typing away on my next story. 

Don’t get me wrong; I am working on those other tasks, but my editor isn’t free until July, so I’ve got plenty of time for writing. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about book marketing, it’s that it’s best for a debut author to have at least two books ready to go before publishing the first. And since it took five years to write the first one, it behooves me to begin the second one as soon as possible.

I have a better handle on my writing process now. I know when to obsess over something during the first draft and when to move on. I’m better at showing versus telling. Many of my characters are already developed. But as I look over what I’ve written so far, my stomach cringes at how much work it will be to polish those words to the same sheen as my first story.

I did it before, so I know I can do it again. I just wonder if we’ll be facing another presidential election by the time that day comes.

February's question: Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere? 

OMG, yes.  When I first began writing, I did it in a vacuum. I had no idea what I was doing or how many other authors were out there. Now, between critique groups, IWSG, and social media, I've made so many author friends I can't begin to count them. Some of them have come and gone over the years, but I still count them as blessings. Thanks for all the support guys!

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

First Response From My Editor

Ha! Two non-IWSG posts in a row. Armageddon approaches. 

The sample edits for the first ten pages of my WIP came back this week, and I was happy enough with the editor’s comments that I’ve decided to go with her. My biggest concerns with my writing revolve around my word choices, pacing problems, and poorly constructed sentences, and her edits definitely focused on those areas. 

One aspect of my story that bothered her, however, was the way I portrayed a secondary character. He didn’t seem real to her. She felt "Mr. Fielding" was too much of cartoon caricature. My critique partners had mentioned something along the same lines, so this wasn’t a complete surprise. This chapter was written a long time ago, back when I was simultaneously working on my Hogwarts fan fiction. For those of you who remember reading the Harry Potter books or saw the movies, I was envisioning Vernon Dursley when I wrote this character. Short, a bit overweight, and a bit of a buffoon who was more worried about himself than others. 

Now I want this story to be fun, so I have plenty of crazy characters sprinkled throughout the story, but my presentation of Fielding was apparently a bit over the top. More middle grade than adult. I’ve reworked the chapter many times over the years to solve this problem, but apparently, I still haven’t gone far enough. So its back to the drawing board again. Fortunately, there’s no hurry. It’ll be many months before the editor can fit me in. 

So tell me, what was your initial response the first time you got something back from your editor?


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Debut Writer's Journey - In Search of An Editor

In 2020, I set myself three goals: 1) to finish my debut urban fantasy, 2) to prepare for the eventual publication of that manuscript, and 3) to blog about the journey. Needless to say, very little of that happened. I didn’t reach out to other authors in my genre, I didn’t choose a cover designer, I didn't find an editor, or build a separate author website, or work on my email list. And aside from my monthly IWSG posts, I didn’t post much at all. There were many reasons for this lack of productivity, but it all boils down to the first goal. I was so focused on actually finishing my story that I couldn’t focus on anything else. Every time I tried working on goals 2 and 3, I’d feel guilty. To be honest, my biggest non-writing accomplishment in 2020 was buying the domain name for my website.

2020 is over! Yay!

Well, it’s now 2021 and I’m happy to report that I’m only one short chapter away from finishing my manuscript. It’s been a long time coming (over five years by my count) and it’s a relief to finally be at this point. This means I can now focus on all the other author-related tasks I’ve been neglecting. And my first step is to find an editor. Fortunately, I already had a list of possible editors in my back pocket, so last week I sent the first ten pages of my manuscript to one of those editors for a sample edit. 

This can be a daunting time for a new writer. You hand over your baby to a stranger and ask them to judge it. It’s not that I have a thin skin about my writing—I know there are lots of writers out there who are far better than me, and I’m fine with that—but I don’t want to hear that my words are completely hopeless either. My biggest fear is that the editor will come back and tell me that something needs to be fixed, but I’ll have no idea how to fix it.

So what was it like for you when you sent out your very first manuscript?


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Moving Out of the Writing Stage


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

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

Knowing that I’m almost done with the initial writing phase of my debut book, which means I’ll soon be moving into the editing, cover design, formatting, uploading, and marketing phases of being an author. All unknown territory for a first-time writer. 

It certainly is gratifying that I’m close to writing “The End” on my story after all these years, but it will still be an uphill battle before it's available for others to read. I've been studying these other phases for a few years now and learned a lot, but there's a big difference between "reading about something" and "doing it." So yeah, I'm insecure. 

As far as my 2020 writing goals were concerned, I pretty much sucked at meeting them. I didn’t finish my story (although I came close), my attempt at outreach with other authors in my genre didn’t go anywhere (mostly because I felt the need to keep working on my story), and the website I planned to build only got as far as me buying the domain name. Thank goodness my family isn’t depending on my author skills to set food on the table.

January's question: Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books? 

Lack of interest.  I don’t mind grammatical errors or flat characters all that much, but as soon as the story stops going somewhere interesting, I’m out. The last book I stopped reading was by a well-known Urban Fantasy author. Her writing is excellent, way beyond my skill set, but the mystery the MC set out to solve kind of got lost as in the weeds as the story turned into encounter after encounter with the heads of the various clans (shifters, vampires, etc.), all of whom wanted to bed her.

Sorry for the lateness of this post. Despite having all sorts of Google calendar reminders about today’s post, I somehow convinced myself that Wednesday wasn’t until tomorrow. Great way to start off the year.

Take care everyone, and stay safe!