Monday, August 08, 2005

Is virtue its own reward? Discuss.

Thank you to all who've emailed and left positive feedback here and there. Though it may not be made evident by my unrelenting snarque, I'm shamefully sentimental even when I'm not hormonal and have been moved to tears repeatedly by the supportive and encouraging comments.

And now it's time to get back to the actual *gasp* work.

Two years ago this month, I sent to an editor a proposal for what I thought was going to be a 30K-word novella. She replied almost immediately and said she'd love to see the finished work.

Flash forward to the present. My 30K-word novella is approaching 65K words, and is within a couple chapters of completion. It's been polished and reworked and taken apart and put back together and set aside and picked up again numerous times. I imagine my poor crit partners cringing each time they see an attachment with that distinctive title.

The editor in question has been more than patient. If I ever start my own religion, I'll make her Patron Saint of Forbearance. I have no doubt she thinks I'm a total flake, completely incapable of completing anything I begin, and holds out no hope of ever reading a finished product.

I have a couple very good excuses having to do with big-ass family crises, depression resulting from said family crises, et cetera, et cetera (make sure you do the Yul Brynner voice in your head when you read that and I just REALLY dated myself, didn't I?) as to why it's taken so long to write what amounts to a category-length novel. But the bottom line is that my husband, God love him, continued to go to work every day during the same family crises by which he was just as depressed and disappointed. He didn't lift a pallid, delicate palm to his forehead, roll his eyes heavenward and declare himself just "TOO UPSET TO WORK!" We'd have been pretty thoroughly fucked if he had, his being sole breadwinner and all.

So while the family crap took its toll, the fact remains that if I'd been treating this "writing thing" like a job in the first place, I'd have worked through the crises--though perhaps not as quickly or as well--and completed the manuscript, along with the other requested and non-requested work that sits on my hard drive.

So that excuse doesn't wash. Maybe it would if I allowed it, but I won't--not anymore.

The real reason I have trouble completing manuscripts and submitting finished projects? My true motivation for being Queen of the Slackers?

Fear. Sheer, yellow-bellied cowardice. I hate rejection more than anything else on earth. I'd rather eat glass, walk on hot coals, and endure another forty-hour labor AT THE SAME TIME than be told "no, thank you, that's not what we're looking for/this isn't right for our line/you're just not good enough."

So I take my own sweet mo-fo time, editing and re-editing as I write, taking hours to get a thousand words on the page. Last night, I rewrote the same paragraph six times. It took me a solid hour to get it right. IT WAS THREE SENTENCES LONG.

This? This must stop.

So right here and now, in front of everybody who might drop by even though the bulk of the RWA drama seems to be over for now, I vow to ignore the voices in my head that say that every word must be perfect in the first draft, when I know damn well I'm only going to go back and edit it again anyway.

I vow to keep my editing to one or two passes, to remember that perfection is boring, and that while virtue may very well be its own reward, a sold manuscript is a SOLD MANUSCRIPT, dammit.

I vow to finish the projects I've already begun before I start anything brand new.
Barb has permission to threaten me with bodily harm if I try to weasel out of this one. And as she's in possession of both a baseball bat named Bertha and the willingness to use it, that's more a promise than a threat.

And I vow to submit the projects I do finish and take my rejections like the big girl I most of the time pretend to be.

Now...those of you who found all that insufferably boring and haven't yet read Nora Roberts's latest comments on the GH/RITA fiasco, try
here. You'll need to scroll a bit and check various pages, right up to the most recent. Nora is the one with the South Park 'Kenny' avatar. And how cool is THAT? A mainstream romance writer who appreciates South Park...there may be hope for us yet. Also, check out what TechnoSage has to say about the events leading up to the crowning debacle--she has a unique perspective.

In other news, Peter Jennings
died last night of lung cancer. I met Mr. Jennings in 1987 at a college graduation ceremony (not mine) at which he was the keynote speaker. I had a hand in organizing some of the backstage preparations, and got the opportunity to speak with him briefly. He was kind, gracious, funny, self-deprecating, and not in the least put off by our small-town, amateur attempts at seeming professional and urbane. His formal remarks that day were both sobering and inspiring. And when we stood to sing our Alma Mater, and several members of the graduating class broke down in tears, I saw Mr. Jennings wipe away one or two of his own.

A good egg, in my estimation. Shame his life had to be cut short. Take-away message? SMOKING WILL KILL YOU AND BREAK THE HEARTS OF THOSE YOU LOVE.

*looks pointedly at one or two individuals in particular*


And amen.


Anonymous Barb said...


She said it!! It's in print!! For multitudes to see!! Glory-fcuking-hallelujah!!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, here for the multitudes to see-- you'd think, me being the anal-retentive, perfectionist Virgo and all, that I would be the one suffering from "perfectionitis" and fear of rejection.

'Cause baby, you know I hate it every bit as much as you do. How many times have I come close to breaking down because you had the guts to take me on and say, "Nope, Barb, that doesn't work so well." And that's from you, my CP, my dearest friend, who props me up and tells me I'm fabulous on a daily basis.

And it's made me a better writer and probably helped tremendously.

Now, would you send the suckers out?? Please??

8/08/2005 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Barb said...

And apparently, I lose the ability to spell when I get excited about public proclamations.

That would be "Glory-fucking-hallelujah."


8/08/2005 11:31 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

I cannot work through emotional turmoil myself. I completely shut down. All I can manage is rote drill, like cleaning. When I found out I was pregnant again, I didn't write for 3 months. I think it happens because it comes from a creative place, and when struggeling, creative is the last thing to come to the forefront.

You are a wonderful writer. I can tell. Rejection sucks. Now write Damnit.

8/08/2005 11:38 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

Will I EVER spell right? Gah.

8/08/2005 11:40 AM  
Blogger Donald Francis said...

A few comments...

First, do not for one moment forget that work was an escape zone for the hubby. As much as I do appreciate hearing about the silent nobility embodied by the long-suffering male, let us not forget that there is a certain stability in being able to walk out of the chaos and go to work every day. Not that he wouldn't have loved to be able to shut down, but one reaps benefits wherever they can be found.

However, I resoundingly applaud the demise of the perfectionism. Your work is excellent and is worthy of so much more than you give it credit for. Write. And send. And get it out there.

Now I have to go smoke. Be quiet.

8/08/2005 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Technosage said...

Selah -

(A) Thanks for the plug. *g*

(B) On the writing and crises, I'm right where you are, or I have been. Ultimately, the thing that got me to the point where my book is sitting with Agent X hoping for a positive reply was simply the habit of writing every day. Even if it was just a few words, or a little time spent with the characters.

I run a weekly writers' challenge on my Yahoo list, which you're welcome to join. The public accountability does wonders for productivity, and so do all the wonderful readers cheering for you to make the goals you set for yourself.

Hugs and chin up. Follow your passion and you will prevail.


8/08/2005 4:40 PM  
Blogger Donald Francis said...

Agent know, I heard a rumore that he was really Speed Agent's brother.

8/08/2005 9:22 PM  
Blogger Alison Kent said...

I've been so sad about Peter Jennings all day, sigh. And so absolutely proud of all three of my children who HAVE ALL STOPPED SMOKING!!!!

So I take my own sweet mo-fo time, editing and re-editing as I write, taking hours to get a thousand words on the page. Last night, I rewrote the same paragraph six times. It took me a solid hour to get it right. IT WAS THREE SENTENCES LONG.

Bwahahahahahaha. Welcome to my LIFE! Oh, it's horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE! I'm a first draft and first draft only writer (yes, I do clean up edits) so every word DOES have to be perfect, and it's killing me, LOL!

That said, it is nice to get to the end and be done! :):):)


8/08/2005 11:34 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Okay, first? I hereby declare all rules of spelling and grammar null and void in my comments section. So you all can just get over your bad selves, okay? Jeez.

Overreact much, Barbara? :p But I meant what I said.

And yes, Briana, I'm writing. Dammit.

Watcher? Pppbbbbbbbbbbbbfffffffft.

Technosage, how do I find this writers' challenge list? Could you possibly wing on back in here and post an url?

Alison, it gives me comfort to know that someone with similar neuroses to mine has managed to achieve such success. Thanks. :)

8/09/2005 10:35 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

Chek my new blog post and truthfully smash me if I am way off base. Thankee.

8/09/2005 11:14 PM  
Blogger Pink Pen said...

Umm... Selah? Just found your blog and will you please stop writing my brain? *grin*

I'm a flit-er-er, a writer with a smidgeon of talent afraid of finishing the book, afraid of sending it out into the world, afraid of being told "this is crap. never send me anything again."

Very reassuring to know I'm not the only one out here :)

9/15/2005 12:23 PM  

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