It takes me a long time to wake up in the morning. Ok, I lied. It takes a really long time. A long time as in after I swing my legs over the side of the bed, after I put my bare feet onto the (usually) cold hardwood floor, after I’ve shuffled down the stairs, had several cups of coffee and done a few things like look over e-mail, see if any blog comments need to be approved and maybe watch a television show that I had recorded from the night before, my brain is usually functional enough to begin whatever it was I thought I had planned for the day. Generally, it’s about two hours.
The question I’ve learned to ask myself when editing my (fictional) work is “Why does this passage matter?” Given the paragraph above, it’s a question you may well be asking yourself right now.
The reason it matters is to show the sharp contrast between most days, and today when, looking through email, I saw a “popular in your network” email regarding @KameronHurley with a blurb that read “I promise you this: your work matters” and a link to her accompanying blog post.
From what I have seen and from those who I’ve talked to, my opinion is that many unpublished writers look for tidbits of advice and motivation; I am one of them, so, brain a bit more awake than it normally would be by that time, I read her post seeking some insight, some motivation, some pearl of wisdom to help ease my own fears and insecurities about attempting the daunting task of becoming a full time, published and paid, writer.
I won’t offer any spoilers because I want you to read her post and form your own opinion. Suffice it to say that my brain was fully awake 90 minutes ahead of schedule.
I will say that I can understand the frustrations she relays with the business of writing, but, as related to life in general. There have been many times I, and I suspect many with adult responsibilities have wanted to (paraphrasing Kameron) sell everything, disconnect from the information superhighway, load up an RV and just disappear.
I knew Kameron was a published author and that I perceived her as being successful so I was very confused as to why the business of writing was so frustrating. After reading her post, wanting to know more about her, I looked at her bio page which provides an impressive list of accomplishments, and, was further confused.
I still have questions but in the end, they really don’t matter. Anyone who’s ever read anything about the life of a writer, or who has lived or even attempted to write knows about frustration and the feeling of wanting to give up. The why, is different for each person and sometimes deeply personal.
For me, it’s often a fear that my writing sucks, that it’s not good enough.
The fact that GravTech wants me to write for them and has been receptive to the few suggestions I’ve made about existing work, tells me that my writing, or at least my ideas, are good enough.
Conversely, the diplomatic tough love I’m expecting to start today when “Metal, Murder and Mayhem”, a thousand word short story I wrote, is up for critique in the Critters SF/Fantasy/Horror writing workshop that is a part of the critique.org family of workshops will point out every flaw that exists and show me where, how and why the story that in my mind is brilliant, is anything but.
Kameron’s messages are clear: The work I do matters. I won’t offer the other messages which are equally important. Read her post.
Her post mattered to me. It woke me up and made me more productive than I otherwise would have been. It provided some positivity ahead of what will be a week of other writers tearing my amazing writing to shreds. It motivated me to write this piece and to do more work on GravTech’s game NORA than I was planning on for today, probably to the displeasure of my wife as a few household chores may, ok, will, be ignored.
Read her post. Form your own opinions. Examine what makes you want to write and makes you want to stop. Temet Nosce.
Yes, part of me dreads how Metal, Murder and Mayhem will be ripped to shreds by others. The rest of me knows that the next draft of the story will be much, much better for it, and, just maybe, something that can be sold to a magazine where someone reads it and says, “Yes. That story matters.”
Blatant Plug: If you’re serious about improving your writing, I highly recommend the critique.org online workshops. It doesn’t matter what category (fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, etc …) and genre (sci-fi, mystery, literary, romance, to name just a few) you write in, there is a workshop specifically tailored to your work. They also have workshops for comics and graphic novels, film and video, music, photography and much more.
In addition to submitting your own work and receiving high-quality feedback (including the potential to be critiqued by a well known author in your category/genre such as I have seen once in the last month), you will learn how to properly critique the work of others so you can apply a critical eye to your own work and make it better.