What do you do on the dog days of writing? I'm not talking about the actual creative process, although that can sometimes be pretty tough. I'm talking about those days when your writing isn't good enough.
I'm sure every writer has been there. Sometimes, it's self-rejection. Nothing you do seems to work - that word here, that phrase there - it's all awkward or contrived or just plain stupid. You end up hitting the "delete" key for everything. And that's pretty rough.
But what's even worse than beating yourself up? Well, it's worse when everyone else beats you up.
Usually, rejection of a piece of writing isn't the end of the world to me. After all, I've been writing for years now and faced a lot of rejection. However, sometimes a bad day coincides with a bad writing day. A day when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and then it all goes downhill from there. You open your mailbox, and there is the email you've been waiting for! Finally, that editor or agent or publisher will tell you how much they love your writing and that they can't wait to work with you!
Except it's not an acceptance. It's a rejection. It's confirming everything that voice in the back of your head has been saying for years - you know the one, the one that tells you that you're not good enough, that you'll never be good enough for the big time. That everything up until this point has been a fluke. It's saying that voice was right.
And then your email pings again. And again. Suddenly, the messages are rolling in. And they all say the same thing: Not Good Enough.
On days like this, I wish I had the luxury of crawling back into bed. But three kids makes that sort of impossible. So I guess I'll do what everyone else has to do - suck it up. And try to avoid my initial reaction of, "Why the heck am I still doing this?"
I don't have these days very often, but when I do, they hit hard. I do know this won't last forever, and I'll soon be back to my usual writerly pursuits. But, until then, I will figuratively pull the covers over my head and hope for a better tomorrow.
I love to write drabbles, which are a specialized type of flash fiction that are only 100 words long. They're like potato chips - you can't write just one. But while 100 words might seem easy on the surface, the difficulty lies in trying to have a complete story arc in such a short space. I find that humor usually works best, as it's just enough time for a punchline. However, sometimes a story takes a more serious turn, such as my recently published story "Breakup," which appeared in The Drabble today. It took a number of edits to get it just right. I hope you enjoy reading it.
I always love to challenge myself and write stories outside my comfort zone. What I mean by this is taking something I don't know a lot about and making it the focus of the story - and, hopefully, fooling everyone that I know something about it! My latest story is a great example of this. I wrote it on my husband's suggestion - or, rather, more of a question he asked me. He wondered why there aren't more sports in science fiction stories. Not as in made-up sports of the future where the stakes are life and death, but sports the way we play them now.
I thought it was a great point. The number of people around the world who follow soccer, for example - just because people might live on other planets in the future wouldn't make them abandon their favorite game or, for that matter, their team. So I took my husband's favorite sport, baseball, and added a dash of science fiction.
Granted, I've seen a game or two. But I don't know the sport like a true fan would. So, with my husband's help on the technical details, I put together a story about how fandom might evolve on a space station.
The result was "Lucky Thirteen," which was just published in Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine. I had a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope you enjoy reading it, too.
I've been a bit behind on catching up - however strange that sounds. I've had a couple of publications come out in the past couple months. In November, my story "A Helping Hand" was published in Bloodbond. It's based around the idea of vampirism as a disease, not magic or mythology. And, like most diseases, the negatives can far outweigh any benefits.
The second story was published in December as a runner up to a Christmas-themed contest on ironSoap.com. Called "What Johnny Wants for Christmas," it's a twisted little story that centers around a boy disappointed by Santa.
I hope you enjoy reading them!
2016 is over. It's hard to believe - so much has happened this year. We had our kitchen renovation, our baby is now a toddler, and I wrote another book. Oh, and there was a presidential election which divided the country in two, but I digress, LOL. Nah, I won't talk about politics. I feel enough people are already, and I have nothing new to add.
Where does that leave me when wrapping up the old year? Time for the new, of course.
I seldom make New Year's resolutions, as I think setting up the expectation of something that MUST be done is a good way of failing. So I'll treat these as a Kickstarter campaign. I will have my goals and my stretch goals. I will fund it with my creativity and see if I can get this campaign off the ground.
1) Sell my romance book. I've already started my search for an agent, so I figure I'm off to a good start.
2) Finish writing and editing my second romance book. The first part is done already, so I just have to keep plugging away at it.
3) Start submitting short stories/poems again - I took a bit of a hiatus during the second half of 2016, so I'm going to dust off my story and poetry collection and put them out there again.
4) Write more book reviews. I've been a bit sporadic during 2016 - I've written several reviews for the magazine Bewildering Stories, but then neglected the book reviews on my own website. I'd like to juggle both.
If I accomplish all of the above, I will reward myself by... accomplishing more! Hah.
1) Publish/self-publish my fantasy book. I'm undergoing an extensive edit of it and might send it out to some small press publishers. Or I might self-publish. I'll have to do more research on both options.
2) Publish/self-publish my science fiction book. I haven't even started to edit this monster, so I'll need to really buckle down to get it going.
3) Start a food blog with my husband. We've talked about it - he's a chef and I'm a writer, but we tend to have our own personal taste when it comes to food. So it would be fun to do a "he said, she said" opinion piece of local restaurants and highlight our takes on different foods with side-by-side comparison recipes.
4) Write and illustrate a children's book. Not sure I'll even get to this, but it would be fun to do. I have an idea for a series, now I just need to find the time!
And I think that's quite enough to hope to accomplish this year.
Although I'm a week late saying this, may everyone have a peaceful and prosperous New Year!
Who the heck is Alison McBain?
I am a freelance writer and poet with over a hundred short pieces published in magazines and anthologies. If the Walking Dead isn't on, I draw pictures and do origami meditation in Alberta, where I live with my family. If the Walking Dead is on... shhhh! The Walking Dead is on! For more info, please check out my "About Me" page.
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