Moving, Personal Life, What I'm Reading, Writing

Failure, Success, and Keeping On with Keeping On

I’ve been busy lately: battling health issues, traveling, dealing with house hunting/moving, and yes, even writing. So I’m sorry to have let the blog here slip, but, well, something had to give. It was this or what little remains of my sanity, and, well, hubby dearest is rather fond of my rare moments of sanity.

That said, I’ve got things on my mind (uh-hunh, and when don’t I?) and I’d like to share them. First off, Hugo voting. Wow. There are some amazing contenders for these awards. The artist categories are blowing me away. I’m reading the Novellas now, and again, just…wow. I hope to come back to this later, but let me encourage you to read some of the nominees in any category.

And now, a thing that’s been preying upon my mind for some time, bothering me. When I started thinking about writing seriously, I–like many others–read books on learning the craft of writing. I wanted guidance. A helping hand pointing the right way, and barring the wrong way. I found some of that, and am grateful for it.

But I also got ambivalent about trying to write, even afraid to try, when I read, over and over, the advice that goes something like: Writing is tough, so if you can walk away, if you don’t have a burning need to write, just don’t. Do something else, anything else, instead.

Well, I thought. I don’t have a burning need to write. Not really. If I learned I had 6 months to live, I’d quite writing in a heartbeat. Honestly, I would. That said, I do love writing. I enjoy the written word, and always have. But I value living my life more, and I think that, for me, this is the right way to go about things. And so the newbie writer in my wondered: Does this make me a bad choice for a writer then? Should I just give up now? After all, so many writers say just that.

Fortunately, I am (as my grandpa would say) full of piss and vinegar. The surest way to make sure I do something is to tell me not to, to tell me that I’ll fail and therefore shouldn’t even try. That kinda makes me mad, and contrary. So, I kept at it, writing even when, deeply depressed by rejections, I remembered those words and wondered if they were really right, that I’d never make it since I didn’t burn with the need.

Just recently, I’ve read two separate posts on just this topic, and both have made me cheer, and punch the air. Yeah! So there! that little voice inside me cheered. And, Yes! I’m not alone in this feeling.

Let me give you these links. First is a post from Josh Vogt. It’s a sideways look at the subject, but one that really resonated with me. What is success? Does it only come in one size: writing full time for a living? Or can I make it something else? Read his post and see.

The second hits the target squarely in the eye. (I have to thank Philip De Parto of the Writers of the Weird for bring this  one to my attention.) It’s a Locus Online posting from the incredible Kameron Hurley titled “Busting Down the Romantic Myth of Writing Fiction, and Mitigating Author Burnout.” Here, she comments on “not having the passion” vs “having the passion” and what that truly means in everyday terms. And she makes a surprising, and yet vindicating, conclusion. If you’re wavering, wondering if “this writing thing” is for you anymore, you may want to read this. Pronto.

 

Links, Viable Paradise, What I'm Reading, Writing Workshops

Bubbling Over with Good News

…but I can’t tell you just yet, so I’ll share some other great news that I can divulge! Namely, the first issue of Fantasy Scroll Magazine is out, and is really lovely. Especially near and dear to my heart is the interview with Sarah Hans, who is in the writers’ group that I used to belong to, and who is a wonderful person much deserving of the success heading her way!

Also, let me take a moment to remind you writers that Viable Paradise is accepting applications for this fall’s week-long workshop on beautiful Martha’s Vineyard. This year the workshop runs from October 12-17 (but you’ll really want to stay until the 18th if at all possible–trust me on this!). Will you be part of VP XVIII? You can’t be if you don’t apply! You have until June 15th to send in your applications. Hop to it!

Thanks to some happy chatter on Codex, I downloaded and played SPACETEAM. You need at least two people (but three is way better) with recent iOS or Android devices to play, but this free game is so much good, silly fun! You’ll be spouting techno-babble with the best once you start playing. And you’ll see what I do when I should be writing, instead. Now, quick–eject the Gyrespindle! 🙂 (for bonus fun, try playing in another language!)

awards, Reading, research, What I'm Reading, Writing

Need A Little Something to Read?

Here’s a write-up from NPR on the Campbell Award and the authors eligible for it, highlighting the 2014 Campbellian Anthology. As the story states, this is a really long work, so you’ll have both plenty to keep you reading, and plenty of reading that you’ll like. You can find the anthology here, free to download and to read.

Why else should you read this, except for the joy of it (since initial voting for the Campbell Award is over)? Well, as K. Tempest Bradford suggests, its a good way to see what editors are publishing from the “young up-and-comers,” and how those stories compare to what you may be writing. Not to copy them, but to try judging your work’s quality, side by side, against a wide variety of “competition.”

And also to see who you may be reading more of in the near future! Good luck and best wishes to all those eligible for the Campbell Award this year. And for the rest of us, happy (and free!) reading.

Today's Desk, What I'm Reading, Writing Workshops

Today’s Desk, 12/10

So, what fascinating writerly stuff is going on today?

Out the window:  The snow has just increased from a light snowfall into a determined army of tiny flakes invading from above. They’re falling faster, heavier, but are still small–usually a sign of lots more to come. Since I’m firmly homebound today, this is good by me. It’s really quite pretty. (Please note that this is early winter yet, so snow is still a novelty I’m happy seeing. Don’t expect the same reaction to snowfall in, say, February.)

photoOn the desktop: Since the drafty apartment windows around me have been covered in plastic shrink wrap, the plant that formerly sat on the windowsill is now on my desk. Along with that, there’s a tiny USB Christmas tree that plugs into my computer and lights up. It’s the only holiday decor in the whole room. Other than these novelties, my notebook is open to the notes I’d taken for the story that I’m currently attempting to write.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: A short story in 4 parts. Back in July, I took part in Mary Robinette Kowal’s online short story intensive class (see the post here FMI). During the class, I came to realize that in the MICE Quotient game, I was sadly, horribly, excruciatingly, embarrassingly weak in the Idea category. So, my challenge to myself, post-class, was to improve my Idea comprehension. This story is an Idea story. It’s been hard going, getting that darn Idea. The first draft is nowhere near finished, so we’ll see how it goes, but right now, I’m feeling pretty psyched about it!

And Another Two Things: Ugh! The snowflakes just turned big and heavy. Now it’s really accumulating fast. And I finally realized that I hadn’t updated my Now Reading and Now Listening widgets to the side, so I did that today.

Now, I’m off to write while the snow piles up outside. 🙂

Personal Life, Viable Paradise, What I'm Reading, Writing

Bits and Bobs at the end of Summer

It’s been a busy time. We’ve had a holiday weekend, hubby’s birthday, our anniversary (don’t ask how long–it’ll just make me feel old!), and now, I’m canning tomatoes. The temps have plunged to downright autumnal, and Labor Day is barely past. I mean, we put another blanket on the bed, for crying out loud! (I hope this isn’t a trend going into winter.) Soon we’ll be welcoming guests from out-of-country, and then (eek!) it’ll be time to pack for Viable Paradise! I am so ready for VP and, at the same time, and so utterly unprepared.

tomatoesBut, back up for a minute. Return to the canning of tomatoes. If you’ve been reading this for any length of time, you’ll know that I used to come up with story ideas while walking the dog. Well, my beloved girl’s been gone over a year now, and I won’t get another until after VP is over (probably not until spring, even), so I’ve had to find new ways to let the words flow. It’s been difficult with the move and all, so I just plopped my butt in the chair and wrote, you know? And it works. I’ve written, and learned, and improved.

But there’s something more, something almost spiritual in the moving meditation that I found in walking with a dog while contemplating writing. I’ve missed that feeling, that sensation of tingling alertness as the ideas “uncork” and bob along in my brain. And now, I think I’ve found it again:  in cooking jam, and canning, and such things that keep the hands busy but leave the mind mostly free. While peeling tomatoes and scalding jars, I mentally went over the story I was getting ready to edit. I found that joy, the quickening of my pulse and the flutter of my heartbeat, that too often has been lacking. I became excited again. Over my own story. And it felt great.

As for the editing? Yes, indeed, it’s going very well.

What I’ve Been Reading:

Okay, so I’ve been reading lots of late (remember that stack for VP?), but this is the online reading I’ve promised you. And today, I got a story from Every Day Fiction that I enjoyed. The story is Kin, by Karen Walsh. I liked this because of the feeling of “otherness,” of being an outsider, that the author has created. I’ve been on both sides of this outsider exclusion (having grown up in a small town), and I can feel how well she’s drawn both sides.

So happy reading, and enjoy these last days of summer/first days of fall.

What I'm Reading

What I’ve Been Reading

So, here’s the deal. Occasionally, I’m going to give you links to stuff I’ve been reading online. Stories I’ve liked, of course, and ones available for free. And I’m going to mostly stick to “smaller names” or newer writer’s works. Let’s face it, I love Ken Liu’s stories, but so do most people. Those aren’t so hard to find.

My first story is by an author I think we’ll be seeing more and more of (full disclosure: Cory is an online acquaintance of mine, although we’ve never met IRL). His story “Breathless in the Deep” is online at Lightspeed Magazine. It’s creepy and sublime. I hope you enjoy it. I did.