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Welcome to the Newsletter!
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No recent major announcements. See the Scoop for my work with them. https://www.thesinisterscoop.com/
I have my sci-fantasy manuscript back from my hired editor, so I’ve set the post-apocalypse story aside to work on editing this as part of my NANOWRIMO participation. I hope to be prepared to query by the spring.
To address the obvious omission in the room, I missed October. In my first year of running a newsletter, I made it nine months without missing one, but there was too much going on in October for me to manage. A lot happened for me in that month, all of it good, but none of it conducive to focusing on a newsletter, or really managing any writing at all. I didn’t manage to get much of any writing done in the month of October, a fact that, for me, is a rarity. That absence of progress on my various projects is something that has dug at the back of my mind as November has soldiered on and led me to think about exactly what all of this, this writing thing, is.
I did attempt to manage some writing, picking away at a short story idea I killed before it drew a breath, and, towards the end of the month, I became enthralled with another of my old story ideas. Perhaps my oldest that still has a chance. For years, I’ve been haunted by an idea for a high fantasy series, much more in line with the works and worlds of Robert Jordan and the other titans of the late 80s and early 90s than the directions that the modern market is headed. But as I made it through the various life changes happening around me in October, I kept finding myself daydreaming about that story, reworking the long-established lore in my spare time, reliving the scenes that have been part of me for a decade. Wondering what writing was supposed to be to me, an aspirational pursuit or a work of my heart.
As any writer can tell you, dwelling on old, unwritten story ideas is a sure-fire way to throw yourself off track on a project that’s currently in progress. It didn’t take long throughout October for me to start looking back on my current sci-fantasy project, which is much more market-focused, and thinking of it as something not worth my time. The project was still with my editor then, and it had been a long, long while since I’d read through it. In a situation like that, the flaws you know exist in the work, and even those that existed in previous drafts that you already ironed out, will start to bore their way into your mind. When those flaws start to linger, it, at least for me, makes any other project possible seem more attractive. It didn’t take long for me to start second-guessing the entirety of my sci-fantasy project, a story I’ve spent three years of my life working on. I managed to halfway convince myself that it wasn’t any good as a story, wasn’t worth my time, and that I should put my focus into that old story idea. That is was just a work of aspirations, not a work of the heart.
At this point, all of this rambling is likely familiar to most, if not all, of the writers reading this. It is something common enough that warnings against it are in almost every writing advice book out there, including King’s ON WRITING and Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. In periods of stress, or just a general absence of progress on a project, any other story will seem like the right one in opposition to the one you’re supposed to be working on. But, then I got my manuscript back from the editor. As I read over her comments, trying to decide what I really wanted to do with the thing, I started to fall in love with the story all over again. I saw the pieces of myself I had left behind on the pages, the parts of myself and my anxieties and my compulsions that had been left behind in the characters there. I saw the themes of the story, what they mean to me, and the way they represent where my mind has been since I finished grad school. I saw the heart of it.
In times when there is a general absence of writing, doubts about pending projects can creep into the mind of any writer. It’s important to remember that just because a project has been stagnant or is in the middle of a long period of waiting, doesn’t mean that its worth has come and gone. It’s always better to take a look at what you have before throwing it away for something that could be. To see what heart you put into a work that maybe now feels distant.
Sorry for the absence, but I’m back now! Next month, I’ll be discussing my top 5 reads of the year.
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