We are officially 4 days into National Novel Writing Month, though I have neglected to blog about it yet. That’s because I’ve been busy with writing! I’m currently creeping on up 20k, and is it’s just now past midnight I’m fresh into day four so that number will change very soon. This is my 14th NaNo, and so far the novels I’ve written during November have been published twice, with a third on the way.
NaNo has been admittedly good to me.
Instead of delving to deeply into my novel tonight, I wanted to post a q&a that I found on the NaNo boards. First though, let’s take a peek at the results to a “who do you write like” quiz:
What was one of the darkest moments in your writing life? It actually happened fairly recently. I’m no stranger to rejection, having submitted two different novels at two different times to a whole host of publishers and agents. Rejection itself doesn’t bother me, my skin is too thick for that, but this past year I had a publisher string me along and then ditch me and it felt awful. I had actually submitted my latest novel to them for consideration, and while I won’t name the publishing house here, suffice to say that they’re a pretty big distributor of young adult romance type fiction so I was very excited when they wanted more time to look over my novel. Weeks went by, the holidays came and went, and I finally reached out to them. They told me they still needed a little bit more time, and I gave it to them. More time slipped away, weeks again, and I contacted them yet again. They told me they would reach a decision soon.
Ultimately out of the blue one day, after a few months of back and forth, they send me the rejection letter. Like I said the rejection didn’t sting, but their waste of my time and getting my hopes up did hurt. Quite a lot, actually, and to make matters worse they then critiqued my story and told me what they didn’t like. It’s a young adult novel with a little bit of romance, but mostly it focuses on one of the MC’s depression and how he struggles hard to try and overcome it. They told me, more or less, that it was just too heavy and I should use the secondary characters more to lighten the mood and add some more fluffy aspects to it. That is not the novel I wrote, that is not the message I was trying to convey, and finally I decided to scrap traditional publishing and just publish the novel myself. While it worked out for me in the end, I really took a hit from the experience. I also knew at that point that I have to write what makes me happy, what stories I feel I need to tell, and that I can’t and won’t compromise my ideas for anyone else even though they would have taken a resubmission and, likely, published it in the traditional way.
What do you feel that you struggle with now, as a writer? I struggle with editing, and I always have. I’m just not good at it, and I dread doing it. It’s not that I don’t want to re-read my own stories, I do, but I have a hard time seeing what needs to be changed and whatnot in my own writing. Spelling errors and all that I’m fine with, but being able to see my writing from a new perspective enough to “kill my darlings” is just…hard. It’s the worst part of the whole process for me by far.
What would you say to someone who hates their own work? We’ve all been there, and you have to eventually let it be. If you love to write, then that is what matters, and as long as the act of doing it makes you happy then you have to shake off the rest. I always second guess my own writing, I never feel especially confident, but at some point I realized that I love doing this and that if I want to keep doing it I have to not be so self-deprecating. I had a pep talk with myself, and I decided that if I like what I’m doing then it’s okay to enjoy it and feel good about it. It’s easier said than done, by far, but just try your best to believe in yourself because you’re happy and fulfilled and to hell with the rest of it.
What do you wish someone told you, before you began to actively pursue writing? I wish that I had known that I never had to measure up to anybody else, but for a long time I tried to do just that. It took years of writing in different mediums to realize that I don’t have to be like this person or that person, or write as much as someone else, or in the same style as someone else. I had to develop my own way of doing things, find my own inner voice, and I never really knew that was an option for a long time. Part of that stems from just having a competitive nature, I always want to be on par with everyone at least, but you can’t do that. Once I let that train of thought go I was able to be a better writer, since I was only trying to please myself and not anybody else. I think everybody needs to know that you aren’t alone, and you can engage and interact with other like-minded writer types, but you don’t have to put yourself up against them. We can all coexist in the writing world without feeling like we’re being inadequate if we don’t do x, y, and z.
What do you do when you feel “blocked”, or “unmotivated” about writing? I simply take a break. If I’m feeling stuck, or if I’m at a point where I’m feeling a little bit burnt out, I stop for a while. Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes it’s weeks. I don’t like to force myself, because that’s when my writing starts to lag and when I start to feel down on myself about it. I would rather take a break when I truly need one and produce better work when I’m feeling motivated again than to force my own hand and come out with a heap of rubbish.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve received, that never fails to motivate you? Someone out there needs your story. Whenever I’m writing something, I tell myself that if I can just finish this and turn it into a real book, that it may help someone out there in the world somehow. Maybe it just makes their day better because they enjoy the story, or maybe there’s a plot element that they can identify with that helps them in some way or another. Books and words have changed my life many times over, and if I can just give one person out there that same feeling then it’s all worth it. I want to write the book that someone needs at that moment in their own life, and it makes me feel better to think about that and it definitely pushes me forward.
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