Insecure Writers Support Group

Wow, time’s flying. I can’t believe it’s already February. It’s also time for another IWSG post. For those of you who don’t know, IWSG is a bloghop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where writers share their insecurities and encouragement once a month. It’s never too late to join, so if you want to, go here.

On the night of 26 December, 2011, I suffered the most catastrophic loss of data ever. I’d used a certain freeware program to do all my rewrites, which added up to well over one hundred thousand words. After many attempts, I managed to save a few chapters of some of the projects. But the original rewrite of Doorways was gone. Luckily, I’d already started to edit at that time, so I had a copy if I declined all edits.

What broke my heart was this. I’d written a western that year. I rewrote it too. I finished the rewrite on 24 December.

I lost: Every. Single. Word.

Of all the words I wanted to recover, that project was it.

It broke me. Really. Sure, I went on with all the other projects I saved, but I just didn’t have the heart to start the western again. So I postponed the rewrite to 2012. Didn’t happen. And 2013. That didn’t happen either.

But this will be the year. In fact, I’m going to read the rough draft today. By the end of the week, I want the first words of the re-rewrite down.

Thing is, I have this horrible thought. I’d loved the rewrite. I thought it was touching, and emotionally rich and brilliant. And I know that theoretically, I should be able to make this rewrite even better.

Except… what if I can’t? What if I lost its heart and soul that night?

Needless to say, I know I’m being stupid, but the idea of opening that rough draft fills me with trepidation. Nothing to do but start, though.

Have you ever lost a project and delayed starting it again due to insecurity?

I Think This is My Most Ambitious Challenge Yet

Before I tell you all about it, I just want to let you know that I’m visiting Crystal today. If you can spot the lie over there, you stand a chance to win a copy of The Vanished Knight. 

So. I might have mentioned this before, but I’m a firm believer in challenging myself in order to become a better writer.

That’s why I set such a huge amount of writing goals, and why such a huge goal is at to top of the blog.

Today… I felt inspired to take on a whole bevy of challenges by deciding to take on a book I’ve been toying with since last year.

I put it off because:

1) It’s not a genre I usually write. This one’s a mystery.
2) It probably won’t sell anywhere but in my native country, in my native language (Afrikaans).
3) #2 means that my scope of royalty making would be pretty small, right? Right.

But. Today, my Afrikaans writer gran mentioned that she’s thinking about entering this writing competition. The winners stand a chance to win anything from $4000 to $20,000 AND a contract with the biggest publishing company in South Africa. AND! The books have to be Afrikaans.

That equals some serious brownie points in any industry.

Needless to say, I’m going for it. This isn’t about the money, but hey, it does make up for any lack of royalties I might get. And the book stands a chance of getting published.

See, even if I don’t win, the publishing house takes first option on all entrants. In my mind, that equates to a full manuscript submission (right off the bat) to the Afrikaans equivalent of a Big 6 publisher.

I can’t miss it. Just can’t.

The hitch?

Oh there are multiple ones:

1) It’s in a genre I haven’t ever tried to write.
2) It’s set in a time that, if I get anything wrong, it’ll piss a lot of people off.
3) I have a bit more than seven months to research, write and edit the whole thing.
4) Which means that if I’m to stand a chance, I need to significantly deviate from my usual method. I.E. One draft. No hand writing. Editing without CPs (except my gran, who’s awesome (seriously, I have no idea where to find other Afrikaans speaking CPs)). Planning said rough draft. *shudders*
5) I’m also preparing two other books for submission, while editing a third for publication.
6) And. The guest house refurbishment needs to continue.

Still, I’m going for it.

Because I’m brave.

Because I’m unhinged (or will be by September).

Because if I don’t take this chance, I’ll never be able to take myself seriously as a professional writer.

Watch this space.


Editing Again

I’ve been taking a bit of a break after November. It was necessary. 

Sometimes, I think I let people think that I’m just rolling along and getting stuff done. That it’s just coming easily.
In some ways that’s the case. Being a writer really is a matter of sitting down and getting stuff done. It’s about making sure that I finish the projects I set out  to finish. 
But at the same time, doing this is difficult. Last month, I went to sleep before midnight… maybe like one week while we were moving house. But only because I practically passed out from exhaustion. And whenever I had the chance, I wrote.
I learned what I’m able to accomplish, because I pushed myself way past my comfort zone. But the fact is that I did get tired, so I rested. 
That rest is over now. It’s time for me to sit down, open Birds vs. Bastards  and get my first round of edits done. This week, I might still go a bit slow to get back into the groove, but I will get some editing done. 
Why? Well. I want to get four or five novels out on queries next year, so it would be nice if one is close to ready. So that’s where I am at the moment.
Who else is editing in December? 

Sometimes, I need to rearrange the furniture in my head.

Ever since I’ve gone and set my goal, I’ve realized that I needed to change my approach to writing.

I still pick what I want to do and when, but I pretty much always need to do something.

Fortunately, there’s a lot to do. To illustrate. This is a long term list of  everything I want to get done so far:




Every single one of those highlighted abbreviations stand for books I want to write, edit or publish. The red, yellow and green show me my priorities. Green’s what I’m doing at the moment, yellow’s what I want to do in the near future and red’s for things I want to do, but that can or must wait for a bit longer. Either way, my list is growing.

In the past six weeks, I’ve added three more ideas to the list of concepts: HM, SS1 and SS2. SS1 and SS2 are two books in a series. I dreamed something that’s kickstarted a concept the night before last. Usually I just ignore my dreams, but for some reason, the more I ignore this one, the less I can think of anything else. So I gave in and SS is now a concept I’m trying to actively work on. In between my rewrite to BvB.

At least, now that I’ve decided to put more thought into the concept right now, it feels like it’s letting up enough for me to finish the rewrites. Phew.

Since I know some of you will want to know what the abbreviations stand for:

Wo6C is for The War of Six Crowns. So Wo6C1 is in fact the book I’m in the process of editing for publishing. (Remember to help reveal the title! I even made it easy for you.)
BvB is for Birds vs Bastards, which is just a working title for my high concept urban fantasy.
O is for Otto, the main character in the dystopian I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo.

The others… well… Guess you’ll have to wait and see. 😉

Do you also keep track of what you’ve worked on/are working on? Do you also feel the need to shift some priorities around as you go?

A to Z Challenge: Determination

On A-day, I asked the veterans what advice they wanted to share with the new kids.

About 90% of them had versions of the same message:


There’s a very good reason why this is so big in the veterans’ eyes.

They know. They’ve been beyond the point where the new idea’s shininess wears off. They kept going. They’ve been at edges of mile-wide plot holes. They kept going. They’ve had to beg, plead and bribe uncooperative characters to play along. They kept going. Their muses have vanished. For days. They kept going.

They kept going.

Oh it all sounds glorious to you now, doesn’t it? So clean and surgical. But if you were a fly on the wall of a writer’s office, you’ll see it’s not pretty.

Some writers get buzzed on caffeine to deal with the stress. Some become nervous wrecks.

Some (I’m in this group) do this…

Sometimes I do it while screaming like a banshee.

Yeah. Not pretty at all.

But we keep going. At some point, we stop messing around and get back to writing. We go looking for the story’s shine again. We go filling up plot holes. We find some middle way with out characters and they show us where the story should be heading. And we let the muse back in to continue.

Sad. Isn’t it?

Yet, there’s no other way for a writer to live. Without writing — without finishing what we’re writing — we (at least I) feel incomplete.

So we keep going. Because shit. What else are we going to do?

What do you do when bumping into a problem while writing?
New kids. Do you think what I described is normal? Congrats! You might just make it.