A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Normally, I’m pretty good at computer shortcuts.  I use them all the time, both for writing and for work.  It’s one of the reason my more… ‘senior’ coworkers think I’m so fast on the computer.  I’m pretty good at realizing when I’ve made a mistake and fixing it.  Control-Z is my friend.

 

Sometimes, I admit, I do struggle to switch from my work (Windows) machine to my home (Macbook) one.  Usually I try to hit control instead of command (or alt instead of control, depending on where I am and how hard I’ve been working).  It usually doesn’t work but doesn’t screw anything up, so I laugh and move on.

 

This weekend, I screwed up.

 

It wasn’t funny.

 

I had just spent two hours working through the plot summary (step 6 of the Snowflake method, if you’re curious) for my novel’s potential sequel.  It was brilliant, it was witty, it was even charming.  And I promptly accidentally deleted it (I won’t go into cutting versus copying and why I should have done one and not the other).  And my trusty command-Z apparently doesn’t work on Scrivener.

 

I was crushed.  Just ask poor Mark.  Weirdly, I was more angry with myself than sad, which is a nice change over crying in the corner for a few hours, but it wasn’t exactly pleasant.  It was hard to admit that I’d made that kind of a boneheaded mistake.  But I did.  And now I know that cutting in Scrivener (at least my version) can’t be undone.  So LEARN FROM ME PEOPLE!  DON’T FOLLOW IN MY TRAGIC FOOTSTEPS!

 

All it will do is keep you up to 2 am re-writing what you lost.

 

[Which, oddly, only took about 25 minutes.  Apparently there’s something to re-writing it right away.  It lost some of the sparkle, but the function is all still there.]

 

What’s the silliest computer mistake you’ve ever made?

A Big Decision

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Image from Dreamstime

 

I have a big decision to make that I can’t really talk about.  I know, I know: way to be vague, Candice.  I promise that I will share the details as soon as I can.  In the meantime, I ponder.

 

Well, that’s not true, I know exactly what I’m going to do, I just need to convince myself that it’s really the right answer.  And sadly, it doesn’t involve whether I should quit my day job to be a full-time writer.  Maybe soon, though.

 

It’s a decision fraught with emotion that’s been sapping away my energy for writing and has made me second-guess everything that I thought I knew about myself, everything that I thought I knew, and everything that I desire.  And that’s hard too: to try and re-recognize what you really want and what’s really important.  And it definitely hasn’t been easy: that’s why I’ve been so quiet lately, and making so little progress on the writing front.

 

But soon, things will be settled again, and I will start to become productive.  And hopefully that will happen sometime before November!  I do know that, as I come closer to actually making the decision, that the overwhelming uncertainty that I have been feeling is starting to subside, only to be replaced with grief at the things I will be losing.

 

I need to do what’s right for me, I know that.  But what’s right for me isn’t necessarily the easy thing.  In fact, this decision is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do.  And I’ve had to do a lot of difficult things in the last couple of years.

 

I hope that you’ll all cross your fingers for me and wish me luck and strength as I make this choice.

 

How do you process difficult choices?

On Fear and Rejection

This is what an editor looks like, right?

This is what an editor looks like, right?

Image from Dreamstime

 

I went to When Words Collide, a local writers and readers conference, this weekend.  I attended last year, and enjoyed it enough to attend again this year.  Of course, we put on a NaNoWriMo panel that went really well (much better than we anticipated), but there were so many other highlights that I couldn’t even begin to share them all with you now.  Maybe in the coming days, as I have time to process all that I have learned, I will be able to summarize some of the key lessons.  Most of the best information was actually shared by Kevin J. Anderson and his lovely wife Rebecca Moesta, and I suspect that I will be telling you a little bit more about those lessons as well.

 

The theme of this weekend seemed to be taking risks.  First off, I signed up for a blue pencil cafe (a one-on-one with an author or editor to review the first few pages of a manuscript).  Sadly, mine was a little rushed, because another author had to cancel so they tried to shove us all through, but I still got some valuable feedback.  Second, I decided somewhat last minute to attend a Live Action Slush Pile (more on this in a bit).  Finally, my partner was brave enough (and ready enough) to try pitching to a local publisher and was asked to submit a few chapters.  So positive news all around.

 

What I really wanted to talk about today was confidence.  I’ve blogged before that I’m new to sending my work out for others and a little worried about rejection.  I’ve only submitted one story to date, and that was for a writing competition (I wasn’t even long listed) with no harsh letter or feedback on the other end of it.  So when I submitted my first page to the Live Action Slush Pile on Saturday night, I was nervous.  The point of a Live Action Slush is for editors to listen to a bit of your manuscript and decide whether they liked it or when they would stop reading if they were reading from a slush pile at a publishing house.  My poor first chapter only made it through two paragraphs before three of the four readers stopped.

 

At first, I was crushed.  I worked hard at that opening paragraph, and I thought it was pretty good.  It didn’t help when the two entries after mine were writers that I know and were read all the way through.  I tried to brush it off, but it was pretty clear to me that it still needed a lot of work.  In what was perhaps a backwards sense of timing, on Sunday I decided to attend a panel about fighting fear and rejection.  While it didn’t reveal much to me that I didn’t already know, at least superficially, it was positive to hear that everyone else had some of the same problems with confidence as I do, especially at first.

 

I learned that emotions (especially fear) can colour how you receive a response, that I need sounding boards beyond friends and family (maybe my critique group is good enough?), and that it’s okay to be upset about a rejection, like I was the night before.  The most important thing that I picked up, though, was that we are in the business of no.  99 times out of 100, the answer will be no.  And although that’s hard, that’s the nature of writing.

 

So I’m going to try and look at my submissions a little differently from now on.  From now on, I am a rejections collector.  I’m going to collect as many rejections as I can and get more than anyone else that I know.  And eventually, maybe after the first 99 NOs, I’ll finally get a YES.

 

How do you handle rejection and disappointment?

When Bad Novels Turn Good

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Photo from Dreamstime 

 

My apologies for the horrific grammar of the title.  This post is a follow-up to “When Good Novels Go Bad“, where I wrote about a novel I was none to pleased with.  The writing schedule was going well, but the more that I worked, the less I liked the story: the plot was thin and the driving actions weren’t believable enough.  The beginning dragged on and on (and on…) and nothing seemed to be coming together after 30,000 words.  I didn’t like how the story was going, my critique group didn’t really care for it, and if I don’t like the story, I can’t very well expect my readers to like it!

 

So I put the writing on hold and spent my efforts overhauling the plot.  It took longer than I would have liked (only about 25 hours of actual work over two months) but Script Frenzy got in my way.  Besides, the hardest part was thinking up what to do next, which for me is the opposite of staring at the screen trying to write.

 

About three weeks ago, I started writing again.  I’m only two chapters (6,800 words) in, but it’s already feeling much more exciting and engaging to me.  My critique group even seemed to think so too!  Now, of course, there are still problems with the opening scene(s) to fix, but those will be relatively easy now that the basic plot is a little more workable (I hope!)

 

I guess only time will tell, won’t it?

 

What project has returned to life in your writing lately?

An Apology

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For the non-gamers among us: an explanation

 

I wish to apologize to my readers, as well as any of you who follow me on RSS feeds.  I had a bit of a blog crisis when I followed some ill-thought out advice in an attempt to “optimize” my site.

 

I optimized it right into oblivion!

 

I also found out, through the same accident, that my backup program wasn’t working nearly as well as I had thought.  So I’ve been doing some testing and I think I’ve figured that one out as well.

 

My apologies to anyone who’s comments were lost or who received a bit of spam in their RSS feed.  All technical issues should be accounted for.

 

I’ve managed to recover my content and I will be slowly re-posting it as time goes on.  In the meantime, look for something new and exciting in the month of April!

When Good Novels Go Bad

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Image from Dreamstime

 

As you may have noticed from the sidebar, I’ve put my current novel on hold for now.  I did this after a lot of very careful thought, and it certainly wasn’t because the writing wasn’t going well.  Actually, the writing for this project was going extremely well – I knew exactly what I was writing and I was even ahead of my schedule.

 

Unfortunately, the more I wrote, the less I liked the story.  I still loved the characters and the setting (partly because I’ve been working on this series for over a decade) but the plot seemed a little… thin.  The driving actions of the plot weren’t believable enough and the beginning dragged on and on (and on…).  I forged ahead because I wasn’t quite willing to admit that the story I’ve been working on for so very long was so very broken.  But the more I thought about it and the more people I talked to the more I realized that the story needed work.

 

A lot of it.

 

So I’ve decided on a complete overhaul!  I’m still re-working the details, but I’ve moved the entirety of the plot line “back” in time (earlier in the timeline of my world).  Unfortunately, it means basically throwing out everything that I’ve written to date, but it gives a lot more opportunity for action and conflict and tension and all those good things.  It can now involve fights and political intrigue and conspiracy and treason.  I think it will not only be a more exciting read, but a lot more fun to write.

 

Now I just have to get to that point (again)!

 

What do you do when a project stalls out?