Getting My Groove Back

I consider myself a big-picture person, but there are times when even I can’t see the forest through the trees. It’s easy to get wrapped up in daily challenges. Lately, I’ve felt frustrated with both my writing and physical therapy process, overwhelmed by apparent lack of progress in both areas. My knee had loosened up after being stiff for well over a month, and the new sensation of being able to move it freaked me out – even though that’s what was supposed to happen. I couldn’t help associating it with pre-operation fears, despite knowing that the problem had been fixed.

On top of that, I’d hit a wall with my writing. The idea of writing everything I had planned, then editing it all, then doing something with it…it seems like too much. Then I have to hope that people will actually read it. I got a little depressed thinking of the future, realizing a career in fiction is probably not going to happen, and wondering what else I want to do with my life if not that. I even freaked at the thought of applying to publishing houses. The possibility has always been in the back of my mind, but then I think about the interview. An earlier post here explained why I haven’t read many classics. While it sounds perfectly reasonable on my blog, I doubt a hiring manager will agree.

Confidence in my knee has since improved. I’m getting around better without the walker again, and from here on it’s just a matter of practice. I often have to remind myself that it depends on my state of mind. My knee has been fixed, so it’s all on me to believe I can walk on my own.

I can’t say the same for  a writing career. While I still don’t think I’ll ever make a living from selling my books, but there could be a niche writing/media/communications-related job out there for me in the future. It’s frustrating though because I have no idea where I will eventually end up. Without knowing what kind of writing job I want, I can’t work towards it now. I’m more lost than ever before and I don’t know what to do with myself.

Hoping inspiration will strike soon. Hell, these days I’ll be happy if I decide which book to read or TV show to watch.

I feel like I’ve been on a mental vacation for the last week or so. After not seeing some relatives since before the surgery, I finally stayed with my aunt and cousin for the weekend. I looked forward to it like I was going to Florida or something because I’m not going on any “real” vacations this year (they live in Staten Island, an hour away for me). Then I had a follow-up with my surgeon on Tuesday. All good news and I don’t have to go back for three months, but still no writing Tuesday night.

This is partly because of Scribophile. While grateful for feedback on Define Reality (and a short story I posted), it made me realize how much writing and editing I still have to do. Readers enjoyed the characters and had some encouraging words, but underneath that, they helped me realize the story structure needs a lot of work. I have ideas on how to fix it but I also want to finish the entire anthology first. So my plan right now is to write the rest of the novellas in the anthology, figure out how I want to fix the story line, then edit thoroughly (or possibly rewrite).

Writing and editing the first draft will take months, maybe over a year. And that’s if I don’t get sidetracked. Acknowledging this made me…frustrated, to say the least. I’ve been writing since middle school, and after more than fifteen years of this, I still have a long way to go.

My past lack of – or misguided – ambition is the main cause of this, I think. It goes back to high school when I didn’t take creative writing seriously and signed up for the newspaper because “it’s writing.” I carried that philosophy into college, where I majored in journalism even though I had no intention of being a real reporter. “It’s writing so I’ll like it,” I convinced myself. “You can be an editor while working on your own stories.” After The Intro to Creative Writing Class Incident, I gave up on original work for years and played around with fanfiction. Then after college I wasted a few years thinking I could actually become a TV writer. I even wrote specs and entered contests/fellowships. Does it surprise anyone that I never won anything?

I finally found my stride a few years ago when I finished the first draft of a novel. It all clicked for the first time ever, and I saw why I could never finish past stories. Unfortunately this only happened after wasting years in between on projects that weren’t going to lead anywhere. I guess you could say The Lost Years led to this point, but I would be much further ahead if I just took some helpful creative writing courses in college or even high school. These days I’m too jaded to listen to one random novelist/”professor” who may or may not know how to teach.

So while Scribophile will be beneficial to my writing, I’ve realized once again that publication is much further away than I thought. Maybe I’ll find a job related to editing/media/communications and only write stories for myself.

This tweet I retweeted a while back sums it up nicely:

 

I’ve Discovered a New Obsession

For the record, this is not an advertisement for Scribophile.com. I’m just having so much fun with it that I had to share.

So, a few days ago I was driving myself crazy (as usual) trying to decide what to do with my writing next. I’m still going to enter contests. After some web surfing, I actually found two novella contests with upcoming deadlines. The entry fee will probably be wasted money, but considering I can’t think of other options, this seems like the most accessible way to gain recognition for my work.

Then I thought about online writing classes. I still don’t want to take one. A Facebook group had a list of recommendations, but I don’t want to deal with one professor who might not be a good fit for me or my work. I’m no longer in a mindset where I can take one person’s opinion as gospel. If anything I would consider a knowledgeable critique group that can offer different but equally respectable opinions.

This was my train of thought when I randomly came across the link to Scribophile. I’ve tried other critique websites before. Writing.com was fun once upon a time, but after taking a break from it for a few years, I couldn’t get the hang of it again. No one bothered with my posts and I couldn’t find anything interesting to read. I did have my full novella on Wattpad just recently, but I decided to take it down because a) I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it posted when I entered contests, and b) I barely got any views. Same as Writing.com, I never got too involved with the community, so my work sat there unread.

Scribophile feels like a brand new world for me. First of all, I like that members have to be 18 or older. There’s a distinct difference in the quality level of critiques and even forum posts. Second, the reward system is much stricter. You actually can’t post work until you’ve earned enough “karma points” by reviewing other people. So unlike other websites, I can’t “put off” finding a story to read after posting my own. The site practically forces you to get involved by reviewing and posting in the forums. I can’t say I mind this because I’ve already found some nice people and interesting stories.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to the last week. If anyone wants to look me up on Scribophile, here’s my profile. (Yes I used my real name. I thought it was like Facebook that way and didn’t realize many people made up fake ones.)