Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On Feeling Like an Impostor

I am not a well published writer. I've had one short story published recently, a few pieces published years back, & lots of lovely rejection letters to attest to my continuing to submit my writing. Outside of the possible publications, I have several short stories that just need a bit of polish before I send them out, other short stories that are bare bones, a novel that is "finished" but getting a massive overhaul, another "finished" novel that is set aside, three other novel starts, two barely formed novel ideas that I have jotted down notes and have done a bit of research on, a cluster of memoir vignettes, and article ideas (like this one) that I want to work on when I have time.

I feel like I have been a writer my whole life. I was “writing” stories before I could write. As soon as I could form sentences, my mom told me that I was making up stories. When I was a bit more cohesive with my ideas, I would dictate these stories to my mom and she would write them down for me.* (They were terrible, but she was very tolerant.) Even though I have dyslexia, writing was a huge goal of mine so, after a lot of struggle and with a mom who would not tolerate a teacher calling me slow and stupid and even though we moved to Venezuela in the middle of all that**, I learned to write.

All of this, despite my lack of published work, says in my mind that yes, I am a writer.

And yet…  And yet recently at my writers’ group I had someone say that I wasn’t a “real” writer; that I wasn’t serious about my writing. For a couple of days, I believed them. The evidence? I have goals other than writing, I don’t have a consistent writing schedule***, and I don’t support myself with my writing.

There was another writer there who writes every morning for 2 hours, supports themself with their writing, and their entire life is about their writing. They didn’t agree with the person who said I wasn’t a real writer, but they didn’t dispute them either. I, on the other hand, got very defensive.

After a couple of days of self doubt I thought, why do I care what this other person has to say? By their own admission, they have never been published and rarely write. Upon reflection, I believe that they were trying to find common ground with me and didn’t realize how hurtful their words were. But, let’s be honest, it’s not about them, it’s about me. I doubt myself as a writer. Therefore, if anyone says anything that reflects that doubt, no matter how deeply I’ve buried it, it comes rising to the surface like some monolith of my personal insecurity. I feel like an imposter.

I wish, at this point, I could say, “and this is how I destroyed my feelings of being an imposter.” But I can’t… because I still feel like an impostor… sort of. I write because I’m a writer, and it doesn’t matter if I’m published or not. Kafka was never published in his lifetime. Laura Ingalls Wilder was 44 (my current age) when she became a columnist and didn’t publish her first novel until she was 64, and the Marquis de Sade was 47 when he published his very controversial novel Justine. The list goes on and on… Here’s a article about 10 Great Literary Late Bloomers and here’s the website dedicated to Late Bloomers called Bloom. This should make me feel better, right?

But then my thoughts spiral into, maybe I’m just a really crappy writer. Who am I to be giving other writers advice? How do I dare to run a writing group and an open mic? I wonder why I even bother writing since all the great things have already

Self-doubt sucks. So, dear reader, I pose this question to you: What do you do when self-doubt comes creeping around?

*All of the stories that my mom transcribed for me, along with about two thirds of my earlier writing, was lost in the basement flood of 1995. That was a terrible year.
**I have started writing about that. So meta!

***I’ve never been good at the, “get up first thing and write every day”, philosophy since I am not at all a morning person.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Exciting Publishing News for "Lobster Girl"

My wee story "Lobster Girl" will be published in May in the second issue of Hair Trigger 2.0! They gave me some great edits that I'll be going through the next few days. I'm so delighted!

Here's a little peek:

Shrugging, Tony set the phone on the desk as he stood up. “So just black coffee, huh?”

Taking his seat, Michael nodded. He leaned back and closed his eyes.
Tony sighed. “I kinda liked the irony of it all.”

Michael cracked his left eye partially open. “What irony?”

Tony stared off into space, pulling at the thin goatee he had recently started sprouting. “I guess irony’s not the right word. Synchronicity? My boyfriend would know, he’s like an English major. But, you know, since this building is like the lobster building?”

Michael closed his eye again and settled back into his seat. “Yeah, I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Tony snorted. “Robusutā, it means lobster in Japanese. Huh, can’t believe you didn’t know that, dude! It’s like, in the brochure.” He laughed, shaking his head as he walked to the door.

It took a few minutes for Tony’s words to sink into his brain. Once they did, Michael sat up straight and stared at the phone. He’d never been one for signs or omens, but all these references to lobsters were just too weird.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Morning Musings #3: Writing Problem

My biggest problem when it comes to writing* is that I have TOO MANY things that I want to work on. 

Example: I NEED to finish editing The Peculiar Predicament of Poppets, but the story "Transmissions from Mars" keeps telling me things I don't want to forget and once I jot those ideas down, I want to work on that. Then there's the super political, very dark and highly satirical "Nobody's Property" story that I want to write about an extreme feminist group called Vagina Denta taking over the White House. On top of that, as I get stories ready to send off, I keep needing to edit those too... 

I've been told that it's a good problem to have and I agree. I'm glad that I never have to struggle for ideas. I am blessed, I am privileged, I am prolific. But sometimes, I'd really like to control the flow. (Did this suddenly become a feminine products commercial?)

*aside from that not getting published thing. But as long as I'm sending my writing out, that's not on me.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Meeting my Year-End Goal!

At 3:00 am on 12/31/16, I FINISHED my Peculiar Predicament of Poppets novel!!! 

It's incredibly messy and I already know there are continuity errors and it probably needs about 50 revisions before even beta readers read it, but I set a goal of finishing by the end of 2016 and I JUST DID!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Writing Woes & NaNoWriMo

I have three novels and lots of short stories to work on, but my head and my heart hasn't really been in my writing these last several months. I know part of it is because I have a lot going on - a promotion, two jobs, working on two HUGE events along with my regular ones, housemates moving out, a pretty steady flow of foster kittens, getting ready to launch for it's second year, and just the regular business of living. But also, I've been feeling a draw to work on my nonfiction... to tell the story of my life... to write about my sisters... a memoir about my family... to write about Joy's brain injury... to write about how that one event completely changed my family. This is something I have been trying to write for twenty years, ever since her accident first happened. But almost three years ago my mother died and she has always been my best fact checker whenever I've written about our lives. Also, writing about something so true and personal is really hard and draining. I fear using what my family has gone through for my writing. I worry about not being true to what happened. Memory is faulty, and I have a brain that likes to embellish and fictionalize. I know that writing is cathartic, but I fear that sharing my life with strangers will not be fair to the people who share my life.

About seven months after my mom died, H is for Hawk came out. This memoir by Helen Macdonald was about her father dying suddenly, something I related to on a very personal level. But it was also about how she threw herself into training her hawk and secluded herself from the rest of the world. This experience is very different from mine, though I do tend to throw myself into whatever I'm doing, I've never had the luxury of time or money to step away from my life. But the emotion, or attempts to side-step emotion, in the story were very familiar. It helped me. It also made me think that if my writing could possibly help someone else, I should write my story.

So my plan is that in November, I will work on my memoir for NaNoWriMo. Over the first week of November, I am visiting one of my dearest friends in Rode Island and since she is an amazing author, I'm certain we will have time to write. I don't know if it will stay a memoir, and that's okay. All I know is that I need to write my life.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Progress Report on The Peculiar Predicament of Poppets (Plus, blatant pandering with pup & cat pics)

Today I had the day OFF! Well, not entirely. I'm house-sitting for Phoebe, this beautiful pup:
Adorable Phoebe!
Also, I had to stop by the shelter to get more cat food for Björk, the pregnant lady cat I'm fostering. She is VERY preggo and eating constantly. She's super sweet too! Here she is enjoying head scritches:
"Keep scratching, human!"

Anyhow, between walking and playing with Phoebe and visiting our cat boys and preggo kitty, I took myself out writing. I feel like I made a LOT of progress on my novel, The Peculiar Predicament of Poppets. Here's where things stand:

  • My novel is now over 40,000 words, more than halfway through. (I thought I'd be revising all the things by now, but I've been slowly making my way through each chapter and they insist on getting revised before I move on.)
  • I KNOW how the novel is going to end! (I just gotta get there now...)
  • I fixed some character glitches.
  • I got rid of a few characters that weren't fitting.
  • I discovered things about some of my characters.
  • I love you, google maps, for having "walk" & "bike" options so I can figure out how long it would take my one character to walk / pull a cart across state lines and how long it will take another character to reach her destination on a runaway horse in 1871.
  • As of now, there will be 30 chapters in 2 parts. I have 16 chapters fully written and the rest have at least a spark of what they're about.
  • I sketched out the layout of a scene to give me a better idea of movement. I haven't done that since I was writing stage plays. It was good. I need to do more if that!