Weekly Musing: Reflections and Resolutions

Due to moving, I was unable to get to a couple of musings I would have posted at the appropriate times so now I’m combining them into one post.

During December, that month for reflection it seems, I thought about what I had learned about writing and myself during 2013. Here’s what I discovered:

1) I am still a perfectionist and it is hurting my creativity. I think I’ve gotten better about letting the Inner Critic go more during initial drafts but I still battle my natural tendency to want to get everything right the first time. This inhibits my creativity because I can physically and emotionally feel my voice being stifled. Ideas are shot down before they are even first committed to paper or worse, rewritten several times internally before I get them down on paper.
2) Reading all the information I can get my hands on regarding the craft and business of writing does not mean it will necessarily make my writing better. It just means I know more about those areas but that knowledge is no substitute for actual writing. Only writing can make my writing better.
3) I need to stop reading about writing so much and read for fun. Just the simple act of reading is supposed to be one of the best ways to improve one’s writing due to absorbing what others do that work or don’t work.
4) Writing is still about expression, first and foremost. Worrying about if it is ‘marketable enough’ is not something I should be focusing on at this moment.
5) There are too many ‘rules’ out there. If I were to follow them to the letter, which I did try to do, it made for dull writing and even duller reading.
6) I am still fumbling around for what works best for me. By the end of the year I had hoped that I would have a better understanding of what the best writing process is for me. I was sadly mistaken. I think I might very well be a bit more confused than I was before. Or maybe I’m not. Perhaps each project is its own best process and there is no standard for me.
7) For the first time in my life, there may not be a standard process or path for me to follow. To a certain degree, I control my destiny. Or at least how much I write and what I want to do with each piece. There is no clear path to success and I’ll have to make my own path because learning of others’ paths to success isn’t what’s going to work for me.
8) I can handle rejection better than I can handle acceptance. I am fully prepared to face rejection zillions of times for each acceptance I get. I know it’s not personal, which I can handle. But getting one piece accepted for publication and then another just left me happy but numb. It’s great, of course, but at the same time now I have that pressure of ‘Will this be it? When will the next one come?’ Nothing really prepared me for feedback, positive and negative, from family and friends who now had access to something to I’d written. This is me on public display, metaphorically naked, with people given access to a sliver of what floats around in my mind. I’m a very private person and introvert so that kind of exposure is far harder to handle.

I hesitate to use the word ‘resolution’ because it conjures up images of empty promises people make to themselves, sometime to others, that quickly get broken. Goal is a much better word as I ponder what I want to achieve this year. Some things are always going to be on my list: read more, write more, and keep learning. Below are my 2014 goals:

1) Finish more projects. I noticed a nasty trend toward the latter part of 2013. I would start a story but rarely finished it. I think it was because of an enormous move across the country and my concentration was all over the place. I’m still not certain if I want to go back and attempt to complete some of the stories I abandoned or just get a fresh start.
2) Have enough completed stories in my arsenal so that I can submit more. According to my database, yes I have one because I’m that big of a dork, I submitted my work 18 times. Getting 2 stories accepted out of 18 submittals is a great percentage because just having 1 thing accepted is great. That being said, if I want to give myself more chances to be published, I need to have more finished stories and I need to get myself out there more. I’ve been trying to keep my eye out for opportunities and will sit down in the next few days with my calendar to note submittal deadlines.
3) Be nicer to myself. Somehow I need to learn how to keep that perfectionist, evil bitch at bay and just relax. Some of my best rough drafts come when I just don’t think about anything but the words and allow myself to be open to whatever comes.
4) Be more careful when I edit and revise. I need to figure out if I should edit first, then revise or revise first, then edit. I need to take more time to comb over every sentence to make them as strong as possible. I need to look for spots where I can bring out concrete details to more fully immerse the reader into the world as it came to me.
5) Revise my 2013 novel at least once. This includes the research I noted I need to do in order to flesh out the world it is set in.
6) Finally start the draft of what I had intended to be the first novel I would write.
7) Try to attend at least one conference.

We’ll see how these go. I’ll do a follow up next year comparing what my wishes were vs. reality.

Here’s hoping to a great 2014 for everyone who reads my blog; I appreciate it and have been tickled that even people I’m not related to read my blog. Thank you for reading my little corner of the universe.