Tuesdays with Ana: When writing makes a writer cry

Have you ever had a day when you struggle for hours to pound out 748 words, and you know you’ll be lucky to keep half of them? It’s hard to write a first draft after struggling to polish a final draft of my previous manuscript. I have to remind myself, every time I start over with a new book, that it’s okay to write fill-in words for the first draft. I’m feeling my way with new characters, getting a sense for the plot, and testing what will be possible.

Still, it’s a constant battle to quiet the snob inside my head who spits back every word of every negative review I’ve received. I convince myself that praise only comes from biased friends who soothe my fragile ego, and I scoff at my foolish hope that I can create stunning works of fiction that will change hearts for the better.

I finally wrote down a list of projects I’ve promised to various people, some with deadlines and others “when I can.”

  • Short story that builds on the flash fiction I wrote last Thursday
  • Twisted (and I mean twisted!) reinterpretation of a fairy tale that includes the Virgin Mary–seriously!
  • Corbin’s Bend novella, details to be announced later (will involve California, a professor, and some unashamed kink)
  • Sequel to Editorial Board, this time with some happy action between Spring and Rachel
  • Short story with a new twist on Korea
  • Short story that involves quilting grannies (more about this later)
  • Ana Adored, a book that Maren Smith originally promised to write for me and later asked me to co-write. I can’t wait to work on this with her!
  • A brand-new F/F book for the Castle series, also with ageplay. No, not Mira. πŸ™‚

And, of course, I’d love to eventually write the third books of Kat and Natalie as well as Mira and Hana. Oh, and I’m working on a M/F story as well.

Plus one or two super secret projects that can’t be named yet.

Oh, and Sci Spanks next month! June 25-29 we’ll have a sampling of science fiction, paranormal, fantasy, and speculative fiction. I’m debating between writing a sneak peek of Tay of Tre, book two in the Bastia series, and a sneak peek of an upcoming urban fantasy/magic realism short story. The second one might not have spanking. :-O

I joked earlier today that I’d follow a “debt management” approach to writing by starting with my smallest project and working my way up. When I have too many projects due at once, I tend to work a little at everything and accomplish nothing. I’m still floundering a bit after submitting Freiya’s Stand, which will now be a stand-alone book rather than part of the Corbin’s Bend series (the story became much deeper than I’d intended, and it made more sense to release the book on its own). To date, it is the book I am proudest of writing. While forgiveness is a theme in many of my stories, the forgiveness between Freiya and her partner, Sabrina, struck a chord in a way I hadn’t expected. I hope you enjoy the story. πŸ™‚

Reading through what I’ve just written, I’m realizing why I’ve been so distracted lately! It never seems like that much until I see it written down.

One distraction has been a negative (but well-written and intelligent) review for Editorial Board. It’s given me a lot to think about. Editorial Board has always been a love or hate book for readers (similar to Desire in Any Language), and the recent review has made me re-think my audience. I’ve always prided myself on writing the kind of spanking fiction someone could enjoy even without enjoying spanking, but perhaps that’s not the case. As I’ve become more involved in the F/F (or, as I’m learning to call it despite personal misgivings about the word, lesbian) community, I’m finding a different set of expectations from readers and fellow authors. I’ve even…gasp…considered writing a story without spanking.

We can’t write for everyone, and usually we write best when we focus on a tiny postage stamp of territory. I enjoy a passionate love story to someone’s chipped front tooth much more than a generic ode to loving everyone all the time. I might not care two cents about that chipped front tooth, but the author’s conviction and concreteness of detail will draw me in.

All of these thoughts swirl in my head as I try to craft a new story, and sometimes it makes me want to cry. So many competing demands, and so many conflicting opinions! I look at my old stories and cringe at clunky prose or amateurish plot twists. Before I published my first book, I heard advice to enjoy myself. Authors write their first books for themselves, and they never again get that luxury. I didn’t understand that sixteen months ago when my first book came out. I was impatient to begin my journey as a professional author.

I say two things to every aspiring author I encounter:

1. Respect your rejection letters. An honest, clear-cut rejection is far more ethical and professional than a half-hearted acceptance. Getting published by a house that can’t support your work does you no favors.

2. Don’t be in a rush to publish. (Been there, done that.) Before you publish your first book, your world is filled with possibilities. After you’ve launched yourself into the publishing world, your labors of love transform into professional obligations. I still love (most of) what I do, but I miss those days of writing as fast as I could because the story begged to be told. I had no fear, no worry, and no deadline. Instead, I wrote for the pure joy of writing.

Today, I hold my aching head in my hands because I can write a 1000-word blog post in half an hour but can’t write more than 800 words all day. I want to tell this story, dang it, but it’s exhausting work.

I’ll go back to writing my amateurish first draft, but I hope you’ll take this through your day today:

If our lives are works in progress, how can we expect our first drafts to be masterpieces?

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out Kat and Natalie’s new story. It’s a Mother’s Day tradition. πŸ™‚

P.P.S. Kat’s birthday is next month! πŸ˜€

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15 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Ana: When writing makes a writer cry

  1. pao says:

    There, voted! And yikes… what a list of things to write :/ Would baking help you somewhat unwind?

    Also, I must confess, I have been thinking about Kat’s birthday! πŸ˜€

    Like

  2. DelFonte says:

    I want to cry reading this post because I can relate to so much of it at the moment.
    “Authors write their first books for themselves, and they never again get that luxury.” Yes I’m finally coming to terms with this, that I don’t write for me any more and I miss that terribly.
    As for me, I would love a twisted fairy tale.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      It’s a risk to post things like this because we’re supposed to have everything together. Thank you for making me feel better about sharing.

      If I could do it over again, I would have waited the eight months to publish The Way Home as my first book. I wouldn’t have rushed to publish other stories first, but…live and learn. It’s hard to get the reviewer voices out of our heads when we sit down to write.

      You will get a VERY twisted fairy tale. πŸ˜€

      Like

  3. Natasha Knight says:

    I don’t think it’s possible for your writing to be amateurish…we are our toughest critics. For me, I work on one thing at a time – maybe two but then one is minor. If I try to do more, I just flounder about (is that the expression?) and do nothing then get irritated with myself for wasting so much time.

    Speaking of time – yes there are some stories that want to be told, that we are passionate about even as we know they won’t sell as well for any number of reasons. I know for myself, when I am writing a story that I am not in love with, I work through it but it doesn’t have the same feel for me. Sales wise, I’m doing some tracking so I can check back in later. But in a way, it’s like you have to choose and it’s ok to split your time. Look, I’m giving myself advice here… πŸ™‚

    Anyhow, clearly I’ve not figured this out but I agree with Roz, be gentle with yourself always and just be kind. Unconditional kindness toward yourself (Pema Chodron). It’s hard!

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I used to work on one thing at a time, but then life got complicated. I wonder how you are able to limit your projects. Please teach me your secret. πŸ™‚

      Hey, I’m always happy to receive advice that you’re giving to yourself, too. I think that can be the best advice, sometimes.

      Thank you so much for your sweet, thoughtful support. It means a lot.

      Like

  4. annapurna1951 says:

    Anna,

    To the quality of your writing, I don’t even know you, and you have changed my life. So, you see, your words do have an impact upon others.

    I can’t possibly advise you other than my saying this: write the story within you. Why write someone else’s tale?

    Like

  5. catrouble says:

    Hey Ana…I voted but not gonna tell ya what I voted for. πŸ˜€

    BTW…Twisted reinterpretation of a fairy tale that includes the Virgin Mary? Seriously? OMG!!!

    Bottom line…you write beautifully so write what you want and be gentle with yourself and enjoy!

    Hugs and Blessings…
    Cat

    Like

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