on pre-rejections and self-sabotaging

Chuck Wendig (yes, I realise I’m starting to quote him a lot) has something to say about pre-rejection today:

FUCK YOUR PRE-REJECTION, PENMONKEY

Pre-rejection, according to him, is what we do to ourselves before we have even begun a project. It’s essentially self-sabotage, where we thwart our chances of succeeding right from the get-go, because we’re too afraid of the actual rejection that MAY – and most probably will – come after putting our works out there as writers.

It’s easier to just not start and spare ourselves the angst and frustration, but then writing wouldn’t be the same without the debilitating self-doubt and headbanging despair.

This is Chuck’s solution to nixing the pre-rejection:

How do you defeat it?

Practice, for one. Stop thinking so much. Stop worrying. Start submitting. Editors need material. Agents need material. Readers need stories to read.

Let other people read the work. Let them send it out, if you must.

Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. Control what you can — and no, that doesn’t mean to pre-reject, it just means, write the best story, and find your feet with writing.

You didn’t get published, you didn’t win the award, you got a bad review.

Repeat after me:

That’s all right. I can try againI can get better.

But you have to give yourself the chance to try again.

You don’t get better by just chucking manuscripts in a drawer.

You need the agitation.

You need that fear, that uncertainty, that courage.

You need input from other human beings. Which means:

Fuck your pre-rejection.

You want to get rejected? Do it the old-fashioned way.

Let someone else reject you. Take your shot.

Look, the guy’s a prolific best-selling author. So if he says get over yourself and just write, I’d say we all do just that if we’re ever going to move ahead as writers, artists, and creators.

*

Peter Pan quote 3

An update on No Room in Neverland: I’m on page 202! Woohoo! Baby steps, that’s how I’m going about with this. Plan three chapters ahead, and then writing two and a half, so I can pick up from where I left off the next day. It worked for Lambs For Dinner, so I’m hoping it will this time too.

What about you? Is pre-rejection something you put yourself through? :0)

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state of mind for 2015

So here it is. We’ve made it over to the other side. 2015. How should it be any different from 2014? 2014 was a mess of a year, rife with natural and man-made disasters, and social turbulence, tragic accidents … Ugh, good riddance to 2014.

This time, I don’t want to pin too much hope on 2015. Because that’s what I did last year. Built up all that expectation and anticipation – I want to write two novels this year, enter this competition and that, write a short story and a blog post every week, post it up on forums, make more writer friends, take up a new hobby! THIS is the year I land a literary agent and get published and start leading a more fulfilling life! – only to meet roadblock after roadblock for No Room in Neverland, and receive rejection letter after rejection letter.

I’m not saying I’m going to be completely pessimistic and dour this year, in case you’re thinking I’m starting this year as a grumpy puss. No, I’m just tempering my expectations, taking whatever comes along for what they are. I’m not going to get ahead of myself, just do what needs to be done – rewrite that novel for the fourth time? Bring it. Edit and polish old manuscripts and look for new platforms to gather feedback. Read more books, read outside of what I typically read, watch more movies and drama series, find more new music, to collect fresh, new ideas. Just the gritty work that are a lot less pretty than those daydreams of being published. As happy as I am for authors who achieve mega success because heck yeah they deserve it, I’m done with sighing wistfully over their writing and wishing I could have what they have.

These novels, all this effort into editing and rewriting and pitching to agents, may amount to nothing. And it’s easy to get caught up in the whole quest of getting published. But really, what I really need is to write a book that doesn’t suck, that people would want to read.

As Chuck Wendig said,

Writing a book and putting it out in the world is an act of ego — not egomania, but the willingness and decision to create a story out of nothing and push it forward into the world is a bold, brash, unflinching act. You say: this story matters, and it matters that I wrote it. It is a demonstration of your belief in the story and the belief you possess in yourself as a writer, storyteller, and a creator. It takes a rather epic set of genitals to write something that’s 300 pages long and then say to someone: “You’re going to sit down and you’re going to read this and you are going to love it the way I love it. You are going to take hours, even days out of your life to read the little ants dancing across the page, ants that make words, words that make this one big story full of people.

That said, I’ve been considering other options outside of traditional publishing. Chuck Wendig, as well as many authors and publishing experts have been touting hybrid publishing and embracing crowd sourced novels for a while. Forbes also laid out the pros and cons of hybrid publishing. Some even go so far as to call hybrid publishing the future of publishing. I’m still reading up as much as I can about it so I can decide whether to take this route. If anyone has any thoughts on this matter, I’d love to hear them!

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s hoping for a less turbulent, more forgiving 2015.

Clocked 30K for NaNo – and that’s okay

So we’re done with NaNoWriMo! One crazy month of uncensored writing, manic word churning, and getting lost in the labyrinth of the world you created.

creation
My word count stands at 30,300. But oh, who cares. I’m having too much fun right now to obsess over word count! With a structure I’ve never dared to try before but am experimenting with now because what the hell it’s NaNoWriMo and there’s no better time to write without fear or judgement.
Here is an excerpt from No Room in Neverland (it’s a flashback from one of Gemma and Cole’s imaginary adventures to Neverland when they were kids):

 

*

Captain Storm was one of those people who guarded their ship so zealously they barely ever made port. He believed that the sea was his one true home, and to be on land was as unnatural as the hooked metal arm of his nemesis, Captain Hook.
When he first caught sight of the two children, it was on the southern island of Almeta, where he had just gathered enough supplies for another voyage to the Silver Cape. He never stayed overnight on land, even in terrible storms that tore ships apart. But as his men loaded the ship with bags and bags of flour and potatoes, seasoned meat and produce, Captain Storm stepped off his ship.
His crew stared. But the captain’s attention was fixed on the pair of children. They shouldn’t look so out of place in Neverland, where Lost Children made their home. But the two weren’t inhabitants. No, they were just visitors. Port Almeta host vagrants and visitors alike, and these drifters were from the Otherworld.
They were hardy little things, the captain could tell right away even from afar, no more than a day older than eight years of age. Hand in hand, they approached Storm with a steely determination that was absent in the Lost Children around here.
“We would like to cross the Silver Sea with you,” were the girl’s first words to him. Storm could tell she was a lot more nervous than she sounded, mostly because she was plucking at a loose thread in her jeans. The boy nudged her, and she added, “Sir.”
“Captain,” the boy corrected, and the girl nodded.
The captain was being very un-captainlike so far. He cleared his throat and growled, “You want to cross the Silver Sea?”
The pair nodded, their dark eyes too grave for Almeta in daytime.
“Why?”
“We want to know what’s on the other shore.” Tourists, the captain thought irritably. There was no other way to the gilded Hinterlands but sea passage – flight was impossible because of the air sprites out for flesh. Many stubborn visitors have plunged into the watery depths of the tumultuous Silver Sea because of those greedy little bastards.
These children have no idea what they were in for.
“So hitch a ferry. I don’t take passengers,” Captain Storm said.
“You don’t understand. We’re on a mission,” the girl said with enough passion to make the captain’s brows slide up past the shadow cast by his hat. “To save Neverland.”
Storm narrowed his eyes. “Save it how?”
The children shared a brief look before the boy offered, “We know our way around. We’ve studied the maps and everything.”
“We’re not just visitors,” the girl added with an eye roll.
A procession of sailors traipsed by with more bags of ration, staring at their captain and the two children he was entertaining. In the time it took for his men to pass, Storm understood.
“You’re hunting the fool’s treasure, aren’t you? It’s a myth, kids. There is no treasure. Just an old cave and a treacherous jungle.”
“We won’t know for sure until we see it for ourselves.”
Yes, Otherworld children all right. Only they could be this stubborn.
“Neverland is not yours to save,” said Storm. There had been others who tried. Eventually, they gave up after failing too many times, moved on and left Neverland for good. The others ended up as Lost Children, drifting through the days for eternity.
“We don’t know until we try.” The girl possessed a sense of purposefulness and solemnity uncharacteristic of children her age. Not that Captain Storm would know, seeing how few children he came into actual contact with.
How then was he going to have two of them on his ship?
Yet, he looked at the pair of them standing before him now, and heard himself say, “Get on board, then. And try not to fall over. I won’t bother doubling back for either of you.”

*

There is so much to explore for Neverland! So many possibilities, and it reminds me of how fun writing can be if you don’t second-guess yourself or let yourself stop writing. It’s so easy to make excuses and get overly critical of your writing (and wonder if this is all worth the effort and heartache in the end), but this is exactly how stories end up discarded when all they need is a little more thought and an extra push.

 

20130114 Laini Taylor writing advice
And who cares if I’m having more fun writing the Neverland Chronicles than present day scenes. I’m just happy to go where the story takes me. Because like Chuck Wendig said, “a finished thing is imperfect – but fixable.”
NaNo-ers, any retrospective thoughts about the experience? Hope NaNoWriMo 2014 was just as fulfilling for you! :0)

It’s NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month entails copious cups of green tea, manic pounding of the keyboard, dreaming up scenes, talking to your characters, considering what they’d do in your shoes as you go about your life, and basically being taken over by this snarling, squalling, blossoming thing called the Work In Progress. Anything that helps churn out that 50K-word manuscript in a month.

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WIP is going relatively well so far, considering how it had bucked and stalled like a horse that needs to poop for the first couple of drafts before I decided to take a break from it (let it, um, poop, so to speak).

Page 198 was where it succeeded in boring the brains out of me, so now I’m giving it another try, this time with a structure I’ve never quite dared to attempt before. Narrative within a narrative. Flashbacks (always risky). Non-linear chronology. Something like what Karen Foxlee did with The Midnight Dress.

Once I decided on this structure, it’s like things finally clicked into place. This is what gets me fired up and excited to write the story! This is what’s missing in the first two attempts! This is what makes me dig deeper into my characters!

Okay. *cracks knuckles* *flexes fingers* Let’s do this.

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Just so we’re clear, I’m probably not going to finish 50K in one month. I’m not going to embrace that kind of insanity. But I’ll just try my best and log in the daily word count and see where this takes me.

For my fellow NaNo-ers, here’s some wisdom from best-selling author Chuck Wendig on the writing process:

“We wish the best for our stories. We want them to be great. We want them to win awards and climb to the top of the bestseller mountain and maybe they’ll change somebody’s life and earn us a giant sack of cash which will allow us to buy a jet-boat or an oil drum full of that very rare civet-poop coffee. Maybe a jet boat fueled by civet-shit coffee.”

Yup, that’s Chuck.

“… go forth and write.

Without pressure, without fear, without the expectation of doing anything but crossing the finish line.”

 

And some civet shit-free wisdom from Laini Taylor (please update your blog, Laini – I’m dying for some snippet of your life!):

“Imagine you’re standing at the edge of a jungle in, let’s say, Borneo (because I have a fascination with Borneo). You have a rough idea of how big this jungle is — you’ve flown over it in a helicopter and seen dense green treecover, and you know what’s on the other side. You know where you want to get to, and you have a very vague idea of what’s IN the jungle, but you have no map, and as of yet there is no trail. What you do have is a machete, a blank roll of paper, and a grease pencil.

There’s only one way to get to the other side of the jungle: take out your machete and start whacking. Carve your way forward and forward, sometimes sideways and sometimes back, until you get to the other side. That first time through, you’re going to come across ravines, swamps, viper nests, rivers, all sorts of things you didn’t expect and you’ll deal with them and get around them, over them, through them, in all manner of resourceful ways. And when you step out of the jungle on the far side, what you’ll have in your hand is a sprawling, wrinkled, sweat-stained mess of a map of the territory you’ve just discovered. It might not look very pretty, but it is a glorious thing, a document of discovery. You clutch it to you, and after you’ve rested and healed for a while, you go back to the far side of the jungle and. . . you start again.

This time, with your messy map in hand, you’ll know where to go and where not to go. Some of the things you discovered your first time in, you’ll want to avoid like the plague; others will be perfect, serendipitous things that make the journey richer than you could have imagined when you set out. You’ll know your jungle/story intimately, the good and the bad, from ground level. Outlines, I think, are kind of the equivalent of aerial photography — you get some idea, but you can’t really see what it’s like down below — not until you’re walking through it. And when you find things to be not exactly as they had seemed from the air, you have to adapt.

Be nimble.

The second time through, your passage will be much more elegant than the first, and it will also be less exciting. Nothing will ever be so miserable or so thrilling as that first bushwhack. . . that first exploratory draft. The misery and the thrill are intertwined — that’s exploration for you, taking the leeches and fevers with the discovery and getting to name islands and swamps after yourself! The second time, you’ll know what to expect. You’ll be refining your map. It will get more perfect and less exciting with each pass, and then one day you’ll be done. Done with that jungle and ready for a new one.”

Yes, this analogy is perfect.

Yes, Laini Taylor is perfect.

Yes, I wish I could write like her.

Speaking of whom, yay for more Laini goodness: her short story, which is collected in this anthology called My True Love Gave to Me, has just been released!

Image from GoodReads

Laini’s in good company too: Holly Black, Kelly Link, Stephanie Perkins, Myra McEntire, and more!

And you guys, the UK version has HOT PINK pages:

SO grabbing this from the bookstore.

May the writing gods be with you this NaNoWriMo! :0)