I’m wrist deep in NanoEdmo right now, so I didn’t have time to write a short story this week. I have a great idea, a really creepy tale, but I want to do it right. Right means not rushed. So instead of a story this week, I want to say something to all of you that I think needs said right now.
I’m not going to give you a Nano pep talk. There are blogs upon blogs that will do that for you. If you want the truth, I need one myself right now. I’m getting up early, going to bed late and missing out on other projects that are calling to me. It’s one month out of the year, I tell myself, that I focus all of my efforts on editing. I can do it. I did it last year. I reached my Nanoedmo goals for three years in a row before that. But I’ll tell you that right now I’m sick to death of adulting. So when I’m done writing this I’m going to go work through two hours of edits, then go read some of those Nano pep talks.
But if you’re doing Nano, you don’t need a pep talk nearly as much as some other writers. That’s who I’m going to talk to today.
To the writer who isn’t sure where to start. yes, you’re still a writer, my friend. You’re just at the very first stage. The stage that every writer was once at. Maybe you didn’t do Nano this year, maybe you just weren’t sure that you could pull it off. Start writing today! Go, right now, buy a notebook and a pen. Start writing every day, no matter what it is! Write stupid shit, write down that thing your friend said that really hit you. Write anything and everything, for some amount of time today. Maybe there’s a book there, maybe there isn’t. Just write something! It’s a step, one small step. And I know you’re wondering what the point of starting is when you don’t think you’ll ever be published. I can’t promise you that you’ll end up published. I can sure as hell promise you that you’ll never be published if you don’t start!
To the writer who can’t seem to get that first project done. I feel you, I was you. I started more books that were never finished than I really care to count. But none of that writing was wasted. I learned from all of it, even if what I learned was that those ideas didn’t work. I’ll tell you a secret, the worst kept secret in the industry. Every writer has at least one novel that will never see the light of day because it was shitty and they tossed it. Books on the shelves are usually second or third books. So spend time on your work in progress today. Either make progress or cut it loose so that you can work on a new, better project. But I do want to caution you against taking that second path. A shitty project can be fixed in rewrites. What I’m saying is just get something done. It’s good for you.
To the writer who’s struggling to sell their work. Oh, that’s right. Now the creative wonderful part is over, and you’re reminded that this is a business. Yeah, that blows. But it is what it is. We are in the entertainment industry, and the sooner you realize that it is an industry the better your going to feel. Keep collecting those rejection letters, my friends. Read articles about query letters, polish your work until it shines. Send it to agents and publishers until someone bites. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking but you won’t get there any other way. However, can I also suggest that you do something else? Write another book! While I was waiting for someone to bite on Broken Patterns I finished Starting Chains and wrote the rough draft of Missing Stitches. There’s two great old sayings in the writing business about this. The first one is from Michael Connelly. “You know what I did after I wrote my first novel? I shut up and wrote twenty-three more.” Another good thing to remember, and I don’t know who said it first, is that nothing sells the first book like the second. So chin up, and keep writing!
Here’s the thing. We need stories. If you live in America like me, you know that we are so divided. You all know that I’ve got no problem getting loud about important subjects, but we’ve got people physically hurting others over this mess. We have people who are scared to leave their homes, and I don’t have words of comfort for them. I’m afraid for friends and family members. I don’t have any political power, but what I have is a voice. What I have is my voice. You have yours too. But even if you don’t want to talk about what’s going on, your writing can still help. Write something funny, something spooky, something irreverent that will make someone smile. Even if it’s just you.