I must admit, I am suffering some burnout lately. Since being a writer is an intrinsic part of my nature as an individual, it is hard not to let personal stresses affect the artistic side of me as well. When I get down, my confidence gets weak and it’s easy for old insecurities and habits to take over. Chapters loom way too large in my mind and seem so daunting that the words never make it to the page. My story feels like it is becoming repetitive in the plot buildup. Questions of what should happen next in the story? Am I making the right plot move? give way to the ultimate decision to sit and think on it longer. Thus words are trapped in my mind, leaving me feeling lazy and unfulfilled, compounding the stress I already am experiencing.
On top of this, I have not been putting myself out there in the querying world as much as I should. Part of it has been due to travels, but also a part of it is this same burnout. Denials do affect me–as much as I say they don’t! It’s more of a subtle, underlying effect that builds up and eats away at confidence in my novel. Lately, I haven’t even gotten any denials. And I still haven’t heard back from the agent who requested my full. This strange silence is ominous, and also has taken my focus off of contacting agents.
I know I need to hone in and start getting my focus back and beat burnout. I need to start making querying goals for myself and meet them. I will start small and build up so that I don’t get overwhelmed. Re-reading my work has always been a confidence booster for me, so I will go back and read the eight chapters of Resistance that are finished so far. That should hopefully not only give me confidence in my storytelling, but also spark some confidence in the trajectory of the plot line. Once I get in the flow of producing chapters and continuing work to get myself out there with agents, I know I will feel better. I’m learning that as an author, not only will seasons create slumps, but personal stress will reduce output. What’s an artist without a melancholy stage, I suppose?
Stay tuned tomorrow for a special blog tour post and a chance to win an Amazon gift card, sponsored by Inklings Literary Agency! 🙂
I am a little ashamed of this edition of Friday updates as it is not as successful a report as I would like to convey! Once again I am struggling with the pressure to write very quickly but still attending to my other obligations. Nonetheless, I am trying not to judge myself on the lack of chapters written (in the meantime wondering why I set these goals for myself when I know they probably won’t happen).
I wanted to get Resistance done through Chapter 10 by the end of this week as I leave for Colorado tomorrow. It was a rather achievable goal as it required me to write one chapter per day for each day of this work week (my usual pace). However, things got hectic, as I fully knew they would. I had social obligations pop up, an out of town appointment yesterday, and general French Bulldog disasters most days. Plus, I still haven’t packed for my trip (a usual procrastination). Resistance sits calmly waiting for me to pick up and write Chapter 8, and with the to-do list I have for today I’ll be lucky if I get even that done.
All that being said, I still feel good about the manuscript. It is very dark this time around and thus it is harder to submerge myself in the material. The characters are going through some experiences that are hard to write about, but their emotions after these experiences have happened are even harder to convey. I don’t want to stereotype their reactions, or worse (in my opinion) archetype their reactions. I want these characters to be genuine and authentic; while there is, to some extent, an archetypal element in all forms of human behavior, it is important to know about it but still deviate from it in some way that is unique and speaks to your characters. That has been a struggle, but a rewarding one as it forces me to think deeply about the characters as a whole. This third book has a very different feel; I wanted it to be purposefully disorienting both to give the readers a sense of how much Runey and Mara are going through and also to give the book a sense of desperation and urgency. Throughout the trilogy the threat has been veiled and that veil has been sliding off slowly but surely throughout the series–now it has been yanked off to reveal the horrible things it was covering before. It’s a hard thing to deal with as a writer. Gravity and urgency makes for a difficult balance to maintain. And that, friends, is the best I can do to explain myself and lake of prolific-ness with this MS.
Agent updates: Nothing really new to report. I am hearing back from a few queries in the form of denials. The agent who requested my full manuscript has not gotten back to me yet and we are nearing the two month mark in which either she promised to respond and if not I am supposed to drop her a line reminding her. This deadline makes me both nervous and excited. What if I email her only to find out she never got the manuscript as it went to spam or whatnot and thus I have to wait another two months after re-submitting?? Lots of “what-ifs”! I continue to have nothing but great things to say about the agents I met at the WLT Conference. One of them dropped me a quick line to say he got my query and would respond again soon (unheard of!). And another emailed me to say the work wasn’t for him, but he would pass it on to someone in his agency who he thought might be a better fit. So impressed! They are actually real people, you guys! 🙂 Once I get back from vacation, I plan to start another round of querying. I want to try and challenge myself to write one query per day, every weekday. Let’s see if that goal goes by the way of my finishing Chapter 10 this week goal…haha.
I hope everyone has a great weekend! I am going to try and see if I can be technologically savvy enough to set up an automated post for Chapter 10 on Monday. I apologize in advance if I am not bright enough to figure that out. Adios!
Yesterday I took the day off. Out of my office, away from my computer, mini road trip kind of day off. It was nice to get out and enjoy the beautiful golden sunshine of a mellow spring day instead of cursing the piercing shaft of sunlight which always blazes through my office window directly into my retinas as I am trying to write; however, I found myself unable to fully relax the entire day. I felt a strange sense of guilt that I was not sitting at my computer, researching literary agents, practicing my query letters and–most importantly–writing another chapter in my second novel. The latter nagged on my mind the most–I’ve come to realize a certain irritability I take on when there is a chapter of my story sitting in my mind, waiting to be drawn out into words. This feeling can make going to the grocery store an even more tedious task, and can even cause regret at having to attend a social event that would, in most cases, be fun. For me, the feeling was most intense on my drive back home; the day was over, fun was had, but now I wanted more than anything to finish that chapter. It was like a compulsion in my brain while the rest of my body screamed with fatigue. It was very late when I got home and I sat down the days’ shopping spoils in my bedroom, fully intending to forge on into my office and hammer out the chapter, but then my french bulldog, Indy, jumped up on my bed and presented me with the saddest puppy dog eyed plead for sleep I had ever seen, and I relented. In the fresh light of this morning (yes, I am currently wearing a hat to shield my eyes from the eastward facing office window blaze at this moment), I am glad I waited to write my chapter; my brain is fresher after a night of sleep, and I am much more motivated to write now that I’ve had to wait a day. My challenge to myself is to enjoy those days off, savor those necessary distractions and come back to write with even more energy and determination.
When I tell someone that I am writing a book, their inevitable response is to ask me what it is about; it is a question which is both delightful and dreadful to me–while I love nothing more than sharing my creation with other people (this is, after all, the main draw to getting published), the act of summarizing 86,000 words of painstakingly constructed texts is challenging to say the least. This problem has led me to fumblingly brief explanations that don’t do my work any semblance of justice, or a lengthy saga encompassing way too many details to be called a summary–the most notable of the latter explanatory events involved a one good friend, a couple glasses of wine and a “summary” which took me at least half an hour to explain. However, now, with writers’ conferences coming up, and query letters to be written, the time of the shoddy summary must come to an end. I will not lie and say I am not daunted, nervous and very tempted to procrastinate. However, throughout the process of writing my book, I have learned that just applying oneself to a task generally yields more results than not trying at all! Luckily, I have found some great sources to help with writing a good synopsis, such as this article: http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/how-to-write-a-synopsis.html# If anyone reading this has any other tips or sources on writing a synopsis or query letter which they would like to share, this newbie to the writing/publishing scene would love your recommendations!
As with all of the challenges that I have faced with my writing, I need to face the synopsis with the same confident attitude that I developed while writing Capacitance–no matter how daunting the task, the process becomes much easier once you believe in yourself and begin.