Writing–Shelving It

Rainbow paperYou remember that untitled novella I was writing at the same time I was writing The Timeless Man? The one that was so insistent on being written that I decided to humor it and write it? Yeah, well, I didn’t finish it. I only wrote about seventeen pages, then made notes on what the rest of the first draft was about, and then shelved it.

I shelved the first draft of a short story I wrote earlier this year, too.

I’ve got plenty of stories on the shelf.

It’s not an easy decision for me to shelve a story. Usually, it’s a finished draft of something that I look at and go “no”. Rarely is the draft unfinished, but that happens on occasion. I don’t like to do it it, but it’s usually for the best.

When stories end up on the shelf, it’s usually because of how I feel about the story. There’s something about it that makes me realize the story isn’t meant to be worked on. It’s not to be done. I don’t hate the story. Worse than that. I don’t feel anything for it. Whatever burning need I had to get it out of my head and down on paper is long gone and I’m left with nothing but a sense of meh. That apathy is pretty much what dooms a story to the shelf. I can get past hating a story to get it done to completion. But if I have no feelings at all then I’m not going to force it. No good story comes from no feeling.

It’s not necessarily the end of the story, though. It’s on the shelf, not in the trash.

There’s always a chance that I might need that story later, that the initial feeling of urgency and NEED to write that story can return. And when it does, it’ll be right where I left it and I’ll be ready. It’s a win.

Sometimes being a pack rat can have its advantages.

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Writing–Bestseller, Baby

Rainbow paperI am not what you’d call a bestseller in the strictest sense of the word. You wouldn’t even call me that in the very loosest sense of the word. If you add up all of the copies I’ve sold, it wouldn’t come even close to one hundred. It wouldn’t even break fifty.

I am definitely not a bestseller.

But, I feel like one.

See, I published Yearly at the beginning of February. I sold  twelve copies that month. Twelve! It took me months to see that many copies of Gone Missing. I haven’t even come close to that with anything else (Night of the Nothing Man has sold a grand total of three; Cheaters and Chupacabras has sold 8). So, to me, selling twelve of one thing in one month is huge.

And then last month, Yearly sold nineteen. Nineteen! Amazing!

It’s hard to explain to people familiar with the sales of Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts, and the like how successful selling less than twenty copies of something can feel. But when you’ve gone your career until this point selling mostly nothing, when selling four copies of all total of every thing you’ve published in one month feels huge, selling nineteen of ONE thing in one month feels like some kind of arrival.

Okay, maybe that sounds overly dramatic, but like I said, it’s hard to explain.

I’m not the best self-promoter. I don’t have a very strong word-of-mouth existence. I’m not exactly clamored for. I usually know everyone who buys my stuff. when I hit the point that I don’t know who bought it, when I hit the point that it’s possible that strangers might be buying my work, I can’t help but get excited. It makes me feel like a real writer. It makes me feel validated.

It makes me want to write more.

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Funtimes–It’s a Version of Cover Love

Music noteA couple of weeks ago I was in the mood for some new music. Specifically, I wanted to get some more songs by Bobby Troup, Julie London, and The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra. In looking through the songs, I noticed something. Bobby Troup and Julie London both did versions of “Midnight Sun” and Julie London and The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra both did versions of “When Your Lover Has Gone”.

And I said to myself, “I MUST OWN THESE SONGS!”

Fast forward to a few days ago. In my Internet perusing I found that Johnny Crawford had recently done different versions of a few songs he’d first done as a teenager.

Once again I said to myself, “I MUST OWN THESE SONGS!”

See, I have this thing about covers and different versions of songs. I think I mentioned it before in another post in which I listed my favorite covers. But I didn’t go into depth about it.

I am compelled to own several different versions of the same song.

I don’t know what it is, but it is a need that I cannot deny. I suppose it’s a fascination with how different singers/bands interpret songs or how the original artist re-imagines a song that their known for. Or maybe it’s fueled by an envy because as much as I love music, I don’t have the ability to make it or even remake it.

Whatever the reason, it’s because of this compulsion that I own:

-Paul Anka doing “Wonderwall” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

-A choir performing “I Touch Myself”

-So many versions of “I’m a Believer”

-And “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time”

-A slow version of “Word Up”

-A fast version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

-A bluegrass version of “Superfreak”

And so many more!

I’ve even got a few albums of nothing but covers (Indie Pop Plays the Monkees and Micky Dolenz’s Remember are two of my favorites).

It’s an addiction and I should be ashamed of myself.

But I’m not.

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Writing–April Projects

Yellow flowersRevising. That’s all I’m going to do in April. Just revising. My To Do list is filled with revising.

My essay for a contest is going to be revised and polished this month. The deadline is next month and it needs to be done and ready to go with time to spare. It has top priority.

Also getting revised this month is Spirited in Spite. I actually don’t think it needs much in the way of revisions, but I’m going to comb through it one more time just to be safe.

After that, anything is up for grabs. I’ve got one short story, one novel, and four novellas that need revisions. I guess whatever I feel like working on will get worked on.

It’s going to be a while before I write anything new, I think, which is fine. I’ve found it’s sort of hard for me to think about writing a first draft of a new project when I have all these other drafts of these other projects hanging out patiently on my list.

So starting now, my focus is totally on eliminating what I can from this To Do List. That means revising. Revising, revising, revising. Then polishing.

Now watch me get another brilliant idea that I can’t pass up and I end up writing that instead.

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Megalomania–Those Pesky Shoulds

ThinkingWhenever I get a little bit of free time, my mind is filled with things that I should be doing instead of not doing anything important or, laws forbid, relaxing.

I should work on that bag I started as a way to keep me occupied during afternoon kid minding.

I should do a few more lessons on Duolingo.

I should do more work on whatever writing project I’m doing even if I’ve already hit my daily To Do List demand.

This blog post is a should. I had some free time this afternoon. I did a few extra Duolingo lessons. Then I still had some time. So instead of enjoying the fact that I don’t have to make dinner this evening and resting up some before I go to work tonight, I’m writing this blog post. And after I’m done writing this, I’ll do my workout, and probably try to get a couple more chapters on A Tale of Two Lady Killers revised before I leave for floorset.

You see, so long as there are things I should be doing, then I’m always going to feel like a lazy bum if I’m not doing them when I have the time.

I already feel like a slacker, like I don’t work hard enough or have enough to do. I feel like I haven’t earned any downtime or free time or relaxation time. So I SHOULD be doing something productive. I should be working out or writing or sewing or working or SOMETHING.

Those shoulds are so pesky. They make me feel guilty every time I decide to take ten minutes to play a game or check Twitter. Because I SHOULD be doing something else. I’m wasting time.

I don’t relax. I waste time. At least that’s what the shoulds in my brain make me think. And so I go to bed feeling guilty often because I wasted time watching reruns of F Troop and The Rifleman instead of doing more exercises or writing more words or curing cancer or whatever else I should be doing.

It’s something I try to work on, but it isn’t easy for me. I envy people who can do nothing and not feel bad about it. I spent a day in bed with a really nasty headache last week and felt like a bum because I barely got one page written before I gave up on trying to be productive. Even a headache doesn’t quiet those shoulds in my brain.

Because I should have been doing something else.

For me, to not do anything is an act of rebellion because I don’t feel like I’ve earned it. Even when I complete my To  Do list for the day, I didn’t earn it. I’ll never earn it and I know it. There’s always one more thing I should be doing before I can relax.

Ooh, that reminds me! I need to wrap up this post.

There’s something else I should be doing.

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Writing–Do You Ever Feel Like…?

Rainbow paperDo you ever feel like something you wrote three years ago is better than what you’re writing now?

I don’t mean because it’s been revised within an inch of its life within the those three years and this is still fresh and new and hasn’t felt the repeated sting of the red pen. I mean that overall it seems like the story you wrote three years ago is better than the one you’re writing right now.

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but hear me out anyway just in case it happens to you.

I’m doing the final revisions before the final polish of A Tale of Two Lady Killers. In the course of my work, I’m finding moments of brilliance that I don’t seem to remember reading in anything I’ve written in the past year or two. Certain turns of phrase and word choices and descriptions that are more creative and just plain better than anything I’ve put out lately, characters that seem more well-rounded and real.

Now in theory, a writer should get better the more they write, so it sort of disturbs me that I seem to have regressed, at least in my opinion. It bugs me that I’m not seeing those tiny brilliant flashes in anything I’ve written recently. Shouldn’t I be seeing MORE of those flashes?

This could be completely subjective. I admit that. There could be brilliant flashes that I’m blind to. And I know that some of those brilliant flashes I’m seeing now in this almost-final version of the novel weren’t there in the first or second drafts of this manuscript. It took plenty of work to come up with and insert those brilliant flashes.

So why am I not seeing those brilliant flashes now? Am I being lazy? Am I just calling things “good enough” so I can be done with them? Have I run out of brilliant flashes? Are they a finite thing and I already used up all of mine? Is it all in my head and I’m just being my own worst critic once again?

I don’t know.

Part of me thinks that I’m being overly-critical and probably more than a little paranoid because that is my nature. Part of me thinks, though, that it is possible that I’ve been a little lax in my work lately and it might do me some good to put a little more effort into my stories.

A little more effort certainly won’t hurt anything.

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Writing–And Then I Changed My Mind

Rainbow paperOne thing that really plagues me and my less-than-successful writing career is my adept ability to change my mind.

I decide to do something and then a few months later I decided that nope, that’s not what I want to do, and I do something else.

For example, I thought I wanted to put the first chapter of my novels in progress up on the blog. Nope! That lasted a few months and then I decided it was dumb and pointless and I took the only one I put up down (because I didn’t have much to show off to begin with).

That’s part of what spurs my change of mind. I come up with an idea that sounds great at the time and I jump on it, which doesn’t sound too bad. Until I go through with the idea and realize that, you know what, this might not be the best idea in the world because it turns out that, hey, I’m not as involved/invested/prepared as I need to be.

This has cropped up again with The World (Saving) Series. At first I thought I wanted to go ahead and self-publish it, which would require numerous changes so I don’t get sued for using trademarks without permission. In considering this, I thought it might actually work out because it could be these specific changes that could set apart my little Outskirts Universe from everything else that I write. It truly did sound like a good idea and I started doing some preliminary brainstorming in regards to the changes.

But then as I went along, I realized just how much needed to be changed and how much work that was going to be and was it going to be worth it in the long run? Would it just be easier to sit on this manuscript or maybe actually try to get it published traditionally so someone else could take care of any possible legal things that needed to be dealt with?

Here I sit at the crossroad of indecision, wondering which path to take.

So I’ve decided not to do anything. I’m not going to make changes and I’m not going to start flogging it about to agents on the off-chance that someone might want to represent it because they think they can sell it (I don’t think anyone is up to that sort of challenge; it’s not what one would call a hot ticket). Instead, it’s going on a shelf, to be referred to in other stories, but not to be seen.

Unless, of course, I change my mind.

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