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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
P.P.S. Kat’s birthday is next month! 😀