Hi all. Sorry for the inactivity lately. I swear I really have been working on creative stuff. I've probably done more art in the last two months than I did all of last year combined. I'm just plugging away on my picture book illustrations. I ended up having to redo one (and turned it into three smaller ones) so that kind of set me back but I am on track again and almost halfway finished. I'm aiming to release it in summer, but haven't decided on an exact date yet. Hopefully by March/April I'll have a set date, but we'll see. I'm trying not to put any pressure on myself and rush things. This started out as a for-fun project and that's how I want it to stay. Besides, my art never turns out very good when I'm obsessing over some deadline, self-imposed or otherwise. The good thing is that my classes aren't terribly difficult or time-consuming this semester (aside from Spanish, which went from 0 to 100 difficulty level in about five seconds). I mean, there's the added pressure about my social work program application, but I've almost got the essay done and then there's really nothing else I can do about it but wait until they make a decision. Anyways, an easy semester means that I have a reasonable amount of free time to work on fun stuff like writing and art, so that's awesome.
In addition to illustrations, I've been writing a lot. It was super awesome to have almost 4 whole weeks of freedom during Christmas break. I legitimately have not had a real break like that since I was 15. I've always been working when I wasn't in school (or doing both at once), and even my vacations at work were never more than 2 weeks long. It was nice to have a break and I was able to get a lot of writing done during that time. I focused on revising and polishing all of my "I-think-this-is-publishable-quality" short stories, then submitted all of them to different markets. I now have 4 "making the rounds," and I've been able to stay on top of it and get them sent out again as fast as the rejections come in thanks in large part to Duotrope
. No acceptances yet, but I've had a couple more positive, non-form rejection letters, so that's encouraging. Also, I got an email last night saying my flash piece is on the short list for an anthology I submitted to. I'm keeping my fingers crossed but trying not to get too excited about it since it might not pan out. I should know in a few weeks.
I'm also about 80% done with the first draft of my fantasy novel. The one with these guys:
It's coming along pretty well. I'm already revising it in my head, so it's been a little hard to stay focused on just getting to the end. I used to hate revising, but after spending so much time revising my last novel, I feel like that's all I really know how to do anymore. The actual writing-the-first-draft part is super hard for me. Or maybe it's just the fact that this is the first novel I've written on the computer first instead of by hand, which is what I always used to do because it kept my inner editor quiet. I don't know. Excuses, excuses, right? I really just need to finish it so I can start revising it and be happier about the whole thing.
And speaking of revising, remember these guys?
Zira and Jared, the beautiful babies I've spent pretty much the last 5 years obsessing over? Until I shelved it last May because I was just so frustrated with the whole thing. Yeah...that story. I had thought it was close to ready to start looking at publishing options, and then I sent it out to beta readers and realized just how far off I was. Not that their feedback was terribly negative or mean or anything. A lot of them seemed to really enjoy most of the story, but I only saw the negative stuff at the time. The story sucked. It was the worst story ever written. The characters were all stupid and unlikable. The setting was severely underdeveloped. This or that particular plot event was pointless. The story didn't move fast enough. And so on. A lot of that was perfectly valid, but after having spent so much time on it and realizing I was looking at yet another almost-total rewrite, I just couldn't deal with it anymore. It stopped being fun. Instead, it made me feel like I was a failure, that I was wasting my time thinking I could ever write anything at all.
I've spent the past 9 months feeling pretty devastated about the whole thing. Anytime it popped into my head, I just got this sick feeling in my stomach, like I wanted to cry, or punch something, or hide in a corner and never show my face again. To be totally honest, I did
cry a couple of times. It was just hard. I don't think I've ever been so discouraged about my writing before.
I definitely needed to take a step back and focus on something else, and the new novel and the short stories allowed me to do that. The few minor victories I've had in trying to get my short stories published (because anything that's not a form rejection is a victory to me) have been hugely validating, and I needed that. Also time--I just needed some time to stop freaking out about it and let myself get over it.
And now, I feel like I'm finally there. I honestly wasn't sure I ever would be. I didn't know if I'd ever pick the story up again or if it would just sit there gathering dust forever along with all the other failed novels I wrote as a teenager. But I think I've got it together now. Eventually, I was able to start thinking about the story again without feeling like a failure. I could listen to some of the music I used to listen to as I wrote it and not have to shut it off because it made me hate myself. I started thinking of how I could make the story better, strengthen the setting, improve the relationships between the characters, make the plot more interesting. It started to be exciting and fun again. I still have a few more issues to sort out, but I've committed to the story again. I feel like I need to see it through, but also I just want
to finish it, even if it means rewriting the entire thing again. I'm going to finish drafting the fantasy novel first, but in the meantime, I've been brainstorming for Zira's story and trying to get all my ducks in a row so I can just sit down and write it when I'm ready.
It still terrifies me. What if I screw up again? What if I just can't do this? What if I really am
a terrible writer? But I think it's ok to be a little afraid. Maybe it will even help me to not get complacent or whatever--to make sure that I really am writing the best story that I can. I hope so. I guess we'll see. I'm trying to keep myself from getting too excited about it because I'm scared to let myself down again. But thinking about working with Jared and Zira and Tripp and Aubreigh and Ryku again...it just makes me smile.