Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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Striving for Positivity

I’ll never get published, I hate my writing!

Oh, yeah, I love what I wrote.

I’m a fraud, people will find me out!

Damn, I’m incredibly competent.

I’m going to drop out of all social media!

Wow, look at this great conversation.

Nobody likes me.

I love you all!

 

This is what the inside of my brain looks like today. Which brings me to an important point about exclamation marks (seriously). Look at the list above. All the negative sentiments are emphasized with them, and none of the positive ones…until the last. Because that’s where I’ve ultimately ended up today.

Look, writing is a tough business. There’s precious little praise and entire dung heaps of rejection. It’s hurry up and wait. It’s biting our nails. It’s looking for validation anywhere we can find it. It’s the inevitable feelings of worthlessness, followed by the inevitable (but generally short-lived) feelings of competence. Like a good game of table tennis, we go back and forth, back and forth.

Last night I had to fill out a form detailing my occupation for the past ten years, and I left off writer. Why? Because in my brain–in that space I was in at the time–I decided I had no viable proof that I could call myself a writer. My published stories have gone out of print. I don’t write regularly on this blog any more. I’m not agented. I’m not even sure which of my works I’m going to pitch in the face-to-face sessions I have lined up. That old enemy of mine, self-doubt, made a roaring comeback.

It’s so easy to harp on all the bad things and forget the good ones.

But really, I am a writer and self-doubt will slink away like it always does, tail between its legs. Back into the darkness. Still, at times like this I am so appreciative of my friends and my writing community. Without you guys, I might fill with too much self-loathing and be one of those people who announces they’re quitting the writing world forever, see you on the other side. When I’m smart I remind myself it doesn’t matter what stage of our career we’re in–just starting, manuscript complete, querying, agented, on sub, published–we all have the same nagging doubts and fears.

So let me ward that off for you. When you sit there and ask yourself am I good enough? the answer is yes. When you wonder if you’ll ever be successful, the answer is yes. When you think you can’t possibly do this for one more day, the answer is you can. 

Now all I have to do is remember that myself.

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I said that last time. It became a pastime.

Bonus points! I got you here using Hamilton lyrics!

Seriously, though: we’re moving again. Last time I told myself it was our last move for a long time, but it hasn’t really been all that long. So it goes. Onward and upward, and hopefully this time will be the last time for a great many years.

I’m excited for it, but it’s put a cramp in my writing style. Today was a good day, though. For the first time in many weeks, I had a few uninterrupted hours to write so I took advantage of it. Getting back in the swing of this story felt so good.

Honestly, I’ve tried not writing and I just get cranky and depressed. It’s better for me (and for the world around me) if I take the time I need to be creative.


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Hello, life and everything

Sunrise this morning was bright red under a perfectly flat line of clouds. If it hadn’t been 5-something in the morning, I would’ve taken a picture of it for you.

Oh, my poor neglected blog, I’ve missed you. I’m always of a mind to tell you that if I have nothing to say, it’s better not to try to force a post. Like so many other people I’ve been digging my way out from the dark days of winter. Here in northern California it’s been raining pretty much non-stop, so when the sun finally peeked out a few days ago I was reminded of the time I spent at the beach sand bars as a child. When the tide went out, hermit crabs would emerge from their shells. Timidly at first, because a wave could always come crashing back down on them, but eventually they’d get brave enough to peek out and stay out, and finally to start scuttling around.

That was the Bay area this week. It was like the aftermath of an apocalyptic event: the sun was finally out, and people stepped outside for the first time in a long time, shielding their eyes against the sudden onslaught of beauty pouring down on them.

rainy-street

But I spent a long time living in Oregon, and I know winter sunshine is more of a tease than a reality. We’re getting ready for another week or more of rain now, and I’m holding my breath along with the majority of the country in hoping that dam in Sacramento holds. In other news, okay, thank you for the much-needed water, skies, but you can stop for a while now.

As far as writing goes, I started a challenge to do a personal novel writing month this month. I decided to finish the novel I started during NaNoWriMo. Every day, the writing was a struggle. I hated all the words coming out. No, not all the words, just the way the story was unraveling, so I stepped back and took a break for a few days. I know this goes against the whole “don’t self-edit, don’t second-guess, just write every day” rule that usually works so well during NaNoWriMo, but I decided that in February I ought to play by my own rules.

I’m so glad I took the break, because the introspective navel-gazing made me realize I needed a reset. If I was going to tell this story, I needed a whole new book to tell it instead of tacking it on to the end of the November one. So I pulled up my big-girl panties and decided to scrap 3/4 of the 60,000 words I wrote in November, keep the other 1/4 as a standalone novella, and begin again. Now the writing is fun! Now I’m convinced I’m telling the right story the right way. What a relief. For a while there, I thought I’d forgotten how to enjoy writing.


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Walking a Fine Line

Most writers would tell you they’re natural introverts. Writing is a solitary occupation, so we get used to being alone. Living up in our brains, sharing that space with a plethora of characters we know well, trying to make them come alive on the page. Writing requires an immense amount of focus, a lack of distraction, a single-mindedness.

On the other hand, authors and prospective authors are supposed to make ourselves available. Be engaging and engaged on social media. Keep up a presence. Sometimes, that balance between introversion and extroversion can be nearly impossible to achieve. I’m of the school that asks how can I focus on writing when there are so many other things I should be doing? I’m not a marketer, I’m not a social media expert. I’m also one of those writers on the extroverted side of the scale, at least for the most part. I genuinely like interacting with people at least as much as I like interacting with my imaginary friends. I’m a sucker for face-to-face meetings and for editorial/story feedback. I can’t do this kind of work alone.

Then the kind of shit that took place today with Laura Silverman and Hannah Moskowitz happened. In case you don’t know, both these authors were attacked by a group of people leaving false, derogatory, hate-filled reviews on their Goodreads author pages. This was an intentional and choreographed action by people whose intentions were to defame and destroy these women. You don’t need any more of a rehash here; if you’re interested in more details look it up online (I won’t give any more airtime to hate groups). My first gut reaction was anger, but then something more subtle crept in.

You see, I was raised on the delicate arts of compromise and putting other peoples’ happiness before mine. A side effect of growing up that way means that I’m used to protecting other people at my own expense. It also means that for most of my life, I merged intentionally into the background. I’ve never been one to call attention to myself, or even to have a particularly strong self-image, quite honestly. So when the latest shitstorm happened on Twitter–after the anger subsided–I started to hear this little annoying voice that wanted to convince me to stay quiet, to stay out of the picture.

For most of my life I’ve listened to that voice. I’ve done everything I could not to be noticed. Today, though, something in me bent to the breaking point, and I’m glad it did. I joined the fray. I didn’t just point fingers at the injustice–that’s all too easy to do–but I did what I could to help shut it down. I flagged offensive reviews. I mouthed off to the powers that be. I gladly and repeatedly added my name to the list of people standing up and saying not on my watch to the haters out there.

No more walking that fine line.

The actions I took today might seem laughably small, but I had to start somewhere. When you grow up as I did with the intention of helping everything stay calm and serene, making waves is a bold step to take. I’ve long said that the only thing I’m intolerant toward is intolerance, and in a sense that’s still true. But finally, I’m tired of sitting on my feelings. I’m tired of being quiet. I’m tired of having to walk a fine line between what’s safe/comfortable for me personally and what’s right.

Fuck it. There’s too much hatred and anger in the world for me to be any kind of silent partner. Trying to stay apolitical no longer suits me. My conscience demands I stop, and I’m so glad to do it. I’m not turning this into a political blog–I have other outlets for that, and generally speaking this is my writing haven–but I will speak my mind. I will speak up for others, particularly for fellow writers. No one can be a voice for anyone else, but at least we can stand in solidarity. Let’s show those bastards what true community means.

You can pre-order Laura Silverman’s Girl Out of Water on Amazon or on IndieBound.

You can help combat the hate speech by flagging and reporting offensive reviews on both Laura’s and Hannah’s Goodreads pages.

You can send a message to Goodreads support and let them know you won’t stand for this nonsense.

Even more importantly, we can do this consistently for any author, any female gamer, any female comic book writer–you get the picture–under attack this way. We really are stronger together.

Flag, report, pre-order, order, read. I did.


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I’m no more patient than I used to be

…but I do have more experience waiting.

If you’re following along, you know it’s Pitch Wars time. You probably also know this is my favorite contest of all because as I mentioned in my last post, it’s nice. Being nice and behaving politely is a cornerstone of the contest, and I appreciate the hell out of that.

On August 3 — the one day I was home between two very different trips — I entered my manuscript in the contest. Decisions won’t be announced until August 25, so by my calendar I still have another two weeks to go before I find out if I’ll be working with a mentor. So what am I doing in the meantime? I thought you’d never ask.

Here’s where I talk about maintaining my sleek calm plush-velvet demeanor (also about why I love Pitch Wars, beyond “nice”). Continue reading


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It’s Pitch Wars Time Again

…and I wrote a bio last year that I still like, so here it is.

Honestly, this is my favorite Twitter-based writing opportunity, and if you can, you should support its efforts. I am. Not just for the extra submission slots, although that’s a sweet perk. It’s just so danged nice. Positive. Helpful. Friendly.

Meanwhile, I'm being reliable with the ladies.

Meanwhile, I’m hanging out & being reliable with the ladies. I’m the one on the right.


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Also, my hair is a mess

First, a personal aside: growing out one’s hair is always fraught with peril. I keep thinking why not just cut it super short again? Then I won’t have to worry. But I don’t.

I figured I’d update the progress on my beloved manuscript. I’ve been cruising along since May 19, when I went out, guns blazing, determined to write at least 2000 words a day* until I got to 60,000 words. That would bring me to a finish on 6/17. Not bad for a month’s work!

Today my word count is 52,671. I’d like to pretend I’ll finish ahead of schedule, but I’m a little off the mark in terms of where I should be with my (now a little fluid) outline. I confess, 60k seems a bit skimpy for a complete manuscript and I knew I’d have to give myself leeway. It’s easier to edit out a scene than to come up short and have to try to fight for words in the revision stage, so I’m okay with this.

The biggest news is that I’m having so much fun working on this story. I’ve mentioned this is my 4th rewrite and they’ve all been good. At this point it’s almost like writing fanfiction about my own work, which is illegal amounts of fun.

So here’s the bottom line: surprisingly, I’m not as afraid of revision as I used to think. This is me, cheering myself on with my little Go Writer flag.

*In case you can’t tell, I am hugely motivated by word count goals.