Writing–And Then I Reconsider


I sold my first story of 2013 last week. Yay! “Someone to Hold” found a home!

And while I’m very excited about this as placing a story always gives me a satisfying rush because it’s public acknowledgement that I’m a real writer, it has given me pause on another project.

I’m seriously considering self-publishing another short story anthology. The anthology would use the seven stories I’ve been flogging around for a while that are ready to go plus five new stories written with the anthology in mind. It’d be set up like a sort of calendar. I like this idea. I thought it’d work for a late year release.

And then “Someone to Hold” found a home.

Immediately, I started wondering about the seven stories that are sitting there waiting to be sent out. Since Duotrope went paid and I can’t afford to use it, I haven’t made much of an effort to send any of them out. Now I’m wondering if I’m not selling them short by self-publishing them.

Aside from the fact that they’ll never know the joy of having someone other than myself finding them publishable, the honest fact is that even if I was paid a one-time token rate of ten bucks for one of the stories, that’s probably more than the whole anthology would make in a year (or more, if I’m going to be REALLY honest).

This anthology idea that I thought was so great is now being viewed in a different light, professionally, creatively, and monetarily. It’s amazing how one little success can throw a wrench in something else.

So now I have to make a decision. Do I want to try to sell these stories or do I want to go with the anthology idea? Which would be better for the stories? Which would be better for me? Do I want that victory rush? Or another project that collects change?

Right now I don’t know.

I’ve got a lot to consider.

Writer’s Doubt

There are times when I don’t feel good enough. I look at what I’m working on and think it’s garbage and I don’t know how to fix it. I have no clue what I’m doing. Nobody is going to want to read this story. Everyone else is doing so much better than I am. Why do I keep bothering with this? I’m no good. I’m not a writer.

Ah, writer’s doubt. I know that feeling so well. It hits me at least once a month, sometimes just momentarily, sometimes it lingers for days. It could be a devestating, debilitating thing if I weren’t so stupidly stubborn and unable to leave things unfinished that I can’t walk away. Which works out in my favor, of course, as persistence is a big part of success as a writer.

But there are times when I’m not feeling very successful. I’m not feeling inspired. I’m not even feeling coherent. In those times of struggle, and like I said, they happen more often than I’d like, that doubt creeps up into the back of my mind like a spider looking for a soft spot to lay her eggs. Those are the times that I start comparing myself to other writers. I look at who’s getting published, what they’re getting published, and then I look at my little list of credits and wonder what the hell I’m doing.

Then I look at what I’m writing and wonder the same damn thing.

It’s a frustrating part of the writing game. I try not to let it get to me. I remind myself about the persistence factor. I remind myself to be patient. I remind myself that not every story I’ve ever written is crap and there is nothing wrong with the places that have published my work. They have good taste.

(Does anyone have that problem? Not only do you doubt yourself, but you doubt anyone on your side, too? I wouldn’t be surpised if I’m the only one and I hope I don’t offend anyone with my issues.)

I have no fool-proof method to combat it. I just keep plugging away and try to ignore that voice in my head that says I suck. I admit that some days the doubt manages to slow me down. It roughs me up. It makes me question my commitment to this writing life.

And that’s where the doubt stops. I don’t want to be doing anything else. I want to be writing something. Short stories, novels, blog posts, personal essays, non-fiction, articles, whatever. I want to be writing. I would be writing even if I wasn’t getting published.

Knowing that, recognizing it, really helps me get back on the mule and keep going.

And sometimes, if I’m lucky, the mule kicks the doubt for good measure.

Stories By The Numbers

Submitted: 1 (only “Such a Pretty Face” is still out)
Ready: 8
Accepted: 1! “Playing Chicken” will be published in the Library of Horror anthology Made You Flinch–Again!

Writing–You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Having a story accepted is as rare to me as being asked out on a date, but it’s pretty much a given that I’m more excited to have my story accepted than to be asked out, usually because the person asking me out isn’t someone that I want to date in the first place (but that’s another post for another day).

Toiling away, such that I do, pretty much in isolation because I’m terrible at networking and I’ve only got a few friends that are writers, selling a story becomes the bottom line for validation. Rejection is the rule of the day and I know I’ll see more of it than anything else. But, to open that email (or letter; I still do some snail mail subs that call for SASE) and read the words that I long to read, especially when I’m expecting rejection, is one of the most victorious moments in my short career. We’re talking fist pumping and saying, “Yes!” over and over like I just hit the walkoff home run to win the World Series. It’s the sign that I’m always looking for, the one that says that this isn’t just a hobby, that I’m good at this and I can make money doing this and most importantly, people want to read what I write. It’s that last one that boosts my ego the most.

The best part is that the feeling of jubilation and absolute victory hasn’t changed. Oh, maybe I’m a little more sophisticated in expressing those feelings (read: I don’t yell as loudly as I used to), but that warm, bubbly, my-day-has-been-made feeling is still the same. And I love it. And I can’t wait to put that feeling to the test with more acceptances to see if the feeling will ever fade or if it will only get better.

I look forward to doing this experiment.

Stories by the Numbers

Ready: 3
Submitted: 3
Accepted: 1! “Sentries” will be published in the Library of Horror anthology Fearology 3: Planting the Seeds of Horror