Okay, I admit it. I’ve been slacking with this blog. After I posted the blog Breaking The Rules, I hit a high with the number of people reading the post and the number of comments. After that, I posted a sample of what it’s like working with a critique partner. That blog didn’t go as well. Lots of crickets played beautiful music for a long time after that one. This tells me most people are more interested in giving a finger to society and their damned rules rather than accepting criticism. Fair enough.
Everyone take a deep breath, open a tab on your browser to whichever is your most hated political figure (You too Canada. You can’t like everyone running your country.) Once you pull up that site, give that smug weasel the old one finger salute. Feel better? Good. I’ve been giving Alfred E. Neuman the finger for years. He needs to start worrying.
Now that we have that out of the way, I can move on to some of the writing stuff. Let me fill you in on what I’ve been doing. Riley – Mapleberry II is now posted on Amazon and you can even read the beginning if you click on one of those tabs at the top of this page. I’m sure you didn’t notice. It’s not like I don’t have enough purple on this page that it looks like Prince decorated. That was my brief obligatory self-promotion. I feel a little dirty now.
Sleeper Earth is about ninety percent edited and I’ve sent out another round of query letters. I’ve even received several impersonal rejections already. Weeee rejection. Some of you are saying — Hey dipshit! Why are sending out query letters if you haven’t finished the editing? Fair question. Glad my imaginary friend asked. I have a little condition called being a perfectionist. This is a crippling disease which prevents me from ever being done with anything. Every reread produces more adjustments. Every critique partner or beta reader makes me want to change a word here a line there. Until a publisher buys this thing and tells me to stop, or I hit the self-publish trigger, it will never be done.
Meanwhile, I’ve peeled a wrapper off of a shiny new story. Weeee new! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of diving into something new. Squeaky clean characters for me to manipulate and corrupt. New settings for me to describe. Evil antagonist to cause mayhem. Beautiful damsel in distress. [Cue record scratch.] Nope. No damsel in distress this time. My current story, tentatively named Shabin, features a beautiful and somewhat naive Prince with an unusual ability who ends up getting saved by a strong female character. Sure, I’m not the first one to do a role reversal thing, but it’s my first time and you never forget your first. Oh… and it’s set in space.
So we have space, a Prince with a mystical ability, an Empire, a father who’s part human and part machine, there’s a big hairy character that doesn’t speak English well … Wait, you ask, are you rewriting Star Wars? Umm… Let me think about that. [crosses out the scene with the electrified swords] No. This isn’t Star Wars. I think we’ve all had enough with the reboots.
It’s also my first foray into the world of Young Adult. I had one person mention to me that most of the YA audience is composed of women in their thirties. Is this true? If anyone knows the answer to that, please leave a comment. The story is from the POV of a seventeen-year-old boy, and I was trying to be as realistic as possible when it comes to the way a teenager would act. Unfortunately, this person thought I may have been a little too honest with the way his glands were dictating some of his actions. She thought women would be put off by a kid who drools over whatever is in front of him.
Moving onto my topic for today.
Frustration – Rejection – Criticism.
A couple of weeks ago I got an email from one of the people I exchange material with. They told me they were giving up because they’ve come to realize that the only person who could enjoy their writing was them. I think we’ve all been there and it sucks. I’ve banged my head plenty of times when rereading an old story. Nothing brings contempt faster than when my writing style has changed (hopefully for the better) and yet my old stories don’t magically morph along with me. I cringe looking at some of those pieces.
There’s a famous quote by one of those fancy muckety-mucks that goes – If you can quit writing, you were never a writer. Meh. I think that’s an oversimplification and sort of bullshit but there it is. Any subjective art is difficult. I don’t think there’s ever been an artist who didn’t want to put their fist through a canvas, rip up a page of prose, cut the strings on a guitar, or … hmm what do singers do? Gargle acid I guess.
If you need inspiration and a recharge to get you going again, look someplace else. I can’t help you with that. But find something, take a break, pick up something new, make a change. Maybe you’ll come back to writing, maybe you won’t. Be happy with whatever you do.
However, if you truly believe that your writing sucks and nobody likes it, then maybe it’s time to pay attention to what other people are telling you. Stop freaking out when someone offers criticism. Find out what you’re doing wrong and make a conscious effort to change.
I’ve offered tons of feedback to people who do the same thing over and over. Now if they don’t accept my advice, why are they still sending me material? I had someone a few months ago send me a story that I found to be based on a completely unrealistic premise. I offered lots of places where things could be adjusted to make it more acceptable. About a month later, they sent me an updated version with none of my suggestions.
I don’t want this to sound as if my suggestions are perfect, but if my opinion matters so little, why ignore everything I tell you and then ask me to go over it again? So if you’re ignoring suggestions from others (and were all getting suggestions from partners and beta readers, right? Right?) that’s your choice. But don’t expect to get glowing feedback if you aren’t willing to change.