Thursday, August 23, 2012

News From Shakytown: Word Counts, Encouragement and Almost Maybes, Oh My!

It's been a quiet winter blogging wise here at PT, but it certainly hasn't been a quiet time behind the writing scenes.

Most of my writing community conversations have been happening on Twitter. If you haven't already found me on Twitter, join me through the bar on the right hand side of this page. I recently changed my Twitter handle to be more in line with my writing identity. My previous handle (BiscuitCIB) only had relevance to me (an old identity from my very first days in chat rooms way back in 95!), and it was about time I started pretending I was a growed up writer. I'll probably have to pretend that even more with a proper website eventually, but that's medium term goal once things "start happening". That is, start making pro-sales.

And speaking of pro-sales....no, nothing yet. One of my 2012 goals is to make my first pro-sale, and I'm still hoping that's possible with all the excellent vibes I've been getting lately. More often than not now I'm getting feedback from editors, and the encouragement is really uplifting. All the major editors I've hoped to impress have made encouraging noises this year, even if it's just a line or two with a rejection or a "send more". It's nice to be noticed by the people I really respect.

This isn't to say the writing life has been all rainbows, kittens and muffins. This past winter has been exceptionally hard, as I've been coming to grips with post-earthquake stress and burn out. Living in this city is a grey old time. I've struggled with my writing energy and inspiration, and there have been some really low days ("What the hell am I doing? I suck! etc etc" all those irrational thoughts). But there are also some really good days - the last few months I've written what I believe is my best work to date, and these stories have been the ones getting encouraging feedback. It's a very odd dissonance.

Over the last couple of years I've blogged about trying to make a writing process fit, but with how restless the eighteen months have been some of the processes I tried out just aren't working. Thankfully, flexibility has been working for me - I can now work in outside environments (the local libraries actually have a very cool atmosphere and accessibility for people working on laptops), I often take my laptop into other "comfort zones" (sitting up in bed; in my armchair), and I've been experimenting with music (instrumental, electronic ambient) and mental white noise (TV in the background) to help me focus. It's helped me find more environments to be comfortable in, so I'm not always poked away in my office.

While my output has waned lately with stress and winter energies, I seem to have settled into a happy average word count: during my one full writing day a week I manage around 2000 words, and most nights (after the day job) I manage about 500 words. I would like this to be more, and some days I get super inspired (nice, but rare and it blows me out), but at this point in my life I have to be very careful about managing my energy.

Mostly, it's been a lot of time spent alone in the trenches this year. That's something a lot of writer "How To's" don't mention - it can be a pretty lonely life. This is okay some days if you're not feeling overly social, but can make one despondent when needing work critique or a self-esteem boost. I'm grateful for my local writing group for keeping me sane (Liz and Helen, you're legends!), and for SpecFicNZ for keeping me focused.

I keep plodding.
Pickles Out.


This Is Mah Job


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