Friday, January 17, 2014

A Writer's Fragile Confidence

Most writers are in a state of gloom most of the time; they need perpetual reassurance.

If you're anything like me, you spend a lot of time doubting yourself. You'll have good day and bad days. Some days the Muse will sing and you'll feel great and every word your write seems like gold. Other days (and sometimes usually the next day), you reread your stuff or try writing something new and you feel like it's garbage, amateurish stuff.

And it's okay to feel that way. The above quote reminds us that we do need reassurance. But, does that always need to come from someone else? When do we be confident enough in our writing? Sadly, I don't think I'll ever be that way.

It's taken years for me to take criticism and listen. Confidence is something completely different. There's always that lingering doubt in my mind about my writing. There's that impish little devil on my shoulder stabbing with his pitch fork telling me I'm not meant to be a writer. I don't have to listen to him, but I do hear that voice, that doubt.

Non-writers have no idea the angst writers go through when they put their work out there. I've sent off the first forty pages of my novel to a circle of friends and I'm terrified of what they'll think. What if they think the last 3 months of work is crap? What if they tell me that I should quit the writing thing?

The one thing I can say for certain is that writing is in my blood. It's something I can't escape, something I can't not do. I enjoy doing it as well as struggle with doing it, but I can't see myself not doing it. Maybe I'll get some negative feedback, but I'll roll with it. Their opinion is not going to change what I want to do. It might be an indicator of my progress as a writer and might highlight what I need to fix. I won't give up. I might not have a hell of a lot of confidence, but I'm damn persistent!

The only thing I can do is keep writing...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Getting that chapter right

I'm currently working through the early chapters of my second draft of Spirit Quest. The first one works quite well, but the next couple kind of limp through. Especially the second chapter. The tone of this chapter was a bit too light-hearted. I wanted it to be a day-in-the-life of our protagonists, but it turned out to be a bit too slapstick.

I tried rewriting it and streamlined the characters. The scene originally had one protagonist and four secondary characters. Then I thought about these secondary characters, realizing that they didn't add much to the story beyond their appearance. And their appearance, in some places, was just to make sure that my protagonist wasn't talking out loud to herself. I trimmed that down to one protagonist and two secondary characters. The flow was better and I felt the scene really tighten up. But, I couldn't get the right feel, it seemed a little too comedic. And early on in your story, you want to reinforce the style and comedy wasn't were this story was going.

I came back to it and decided to pull it. I rewrote another chapter in a different setting with similar secondary characters, but it spiralled away on me and will probably be used as a short story at some point.

I rewrote the scene again and decided to pull in my other protagonist. That chapter was finally the right fit, or at least I hope it is. Who knows what'll happen to that chapter by the time I finish the second draft. The chapter is multi-purpose, in that it introduces us to both of these characters and gets them to meet each other and leaves seeds for them to establish a relationship.

I find it interesting that readers will never see the other versions (or perhaps will in short stories). And can't help but wonder what kind of cut scenes from our favourite books we'll never get to read?

If a chapter doesn't feel right, try coming at it from a different angle, or character. Review the characters in that chapter. Do they all serve a purpose? Are they all really needed to keep this scene going? Will they ever appear again in the story? And if that doesn't work, put the chapter aside and re-write it from scratch. That's what we writers are supposed to be at, right?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Writing Goals

Looking back at my 2013 goals, 2013 was still a pathetic year for reading. And that will be second biggest goal of the year.My primary goal this year will be to clean up my first draft of SPIRIT QUEST.

By the end of February – prepare my submission package for Spirit Quest
[   ] Revise synopsis
[   ] Polish first 10,000 words

Longer term goals for 2014
[   ] Complete the Second Draft of Spirit Quest
[   ] Read 2 books/month

Continue Blogging
[   ] Writing blog (twice a week)
[   ] Marvel 1980s blog/tumblr
[   ] DC 1980s blog

Continue to pursue writing grants
[   ] Ontario Arts Council - WRITERS' WORKS IN PROGRESS (February 18, 2014)
[   ] Toronto Arts Council (June 16/2014)
[   ] Canada Arts Council (October 2014)