Friday, July 13, 2012

Rediscovering Why I’m Doing This

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’ve been fighting a real lack of energy, with writing, with editing, with promotion – other than conventions. Good thing I really did book myself with so many conferences this spring/summer. Because that is about all I’ve had going right now.

A few months ago, I let my agent go. I really love her and wish her nothing but success, but we weren’t working together in sync. We parted friends and I dove right into the idea of sending out my own stuff, believing totally that I am my best selling point. I decided to look into self-publishing a few shorter manuscripts I had on the side and sorted my assorted projects, looking for what to go with and when.

I was on fire! Days after declaring myself independent, I sent out my first requested story, from a pitch I made at RT. A week later, the same publisher put out a call on what their editors were looking for, so I sent out another story.

At Clockwork Alchemy, I took part in three panels with Shelly Adina, who is doing quite well self-published and she offered to help me upload as soon as I’m ready. I was on a roll!

I found a freelance copyeditor and sent out the short I want to publish, we agreed on a price and that ball was in play.

Terrio went to a conference and informed me she’d heard a senior editor at Tor say she was looking for H/H on the more mature side of life… Whoohoo! Just my cup of tea!

My energy was sky high, I was looking forward to life. RomCon was on the horizon, Clockwork Alchemy was sublime. I even made it to BayCon, across the city the same weekend as Clockwork Alchemy.

Somewhere in the midst of everything, I lost my mojo. Nothing came easy when I tried to write. I was editing an older MS and finding myself appalled at the amount of work ahead of me to get this into shape… I crashed. Lost my focus, lost my drive…lost my words.

I went to Denver and kept my head high, fought against the natural inclination when I’m running scared – and trust me, I was running scared. (What if I’d lost my magic for good?) Got my first rejection on the requested short from Carina while I was in Denver. It happens, I knew that. I know that! Still stung. When I wasn’t on at RomCon, I was off. Quiet, hiding.

Thank God for the pirate hat, which seemed to flip a switch and keep me going. Finally, on the way home, I was able to open up to my husband about where I was. Terri and Sabrina knew I’ve been fighting for my writer self. Now my husband knows and I finally was honest with myself.

I am fighting for a rebirth.

Home from RomCon and still trying to figure it all out. I got the copy edit from my hired help and am pleased with her work. I met some great folks at RomCon and in three weeks, it’s all about the Nationals! And wearing my hat. My magical hat is going to RWA Nationals.

Terri and I were chatting with Sabrina a few weeks ago and Ter commented that it’s like I’ve shot my writer wad. (Good one, Bosun!)

Sad to say, I’m wondering if that is the god’s honest truth… I’ve been looking for answers and ideas, tricks and tips…maybe a good kick in the butt.

It’s been five years since I nearly died and came out of it with an attitude of total WTF-ery, nothing was going to stop me. I raised my sails, grabbed the wheel and took off to adventure across the literary seas… And I hit the doldrums. And I do not want or need another life altering kick like that first one! But…!

I don’t know what to do crew, other than just keep pushing forward with the projects I already have in motion. I’m looking to get a cover together for the self-publishing project, Foxoddness1. I’m looking for a publication date of August. Second one, Foxoddness2, in October. And I need to write and have Foxoddness3 out for December.

I have pitch appointments at the Nationals and people I’m targeting, hoping to harvest some wisdom where I can. And I get to be Terri’s plus one at her invitational events…and work hard to keep her from floating away or running away…

All I can do is all I can do!

But I’m not afraid to admit, I’m scared. I feel like I’ve lost my ship…lost my magic.

Okay, crew. Kick my ass, hug me, slap me, get me drunk and paint my tits green. How do I recover from disappointments which have torn my sails to shred and poked holes in my hull? What is your magic mojo motivational secret?


Marnee Bailey said...

Hm... First of all... (((MO)))

There's my hug for you. I'm sorry you're feeling rudderless. It's hard, I know. I've had my periods of "What the hell am I doing here?" It isn't fun. Sometimes I've stopped and wondered if I have anything to contribute.

I have no motivational secrets. All I know is that I won't accept a personal failure and if I were to quit because it was hard, I'd feel like I'd failed myself. Yes, my family wants to see my succeed--my hubs, my mom, even my kids to whatever extent they know what's going on. But it'd be me that would have to go to bed each night feeling like I wasn't doing what I should be doing. And I can't do that. So I keep going.

But, as to finding inspiration and recovering from disappointment, I think you should do exactly what you haven't done yet. Write a completely different genre. Or change up your approach to writing. Injecting a new technique or a new style is a great exercise, I think.

And maybe, while you're writing that piece, don't even think about selling it. Think of it as your "Stella Gets Her Groove Back" piece. Something for you, not for everyone else. Or, if you always write with a "Stella and her Groove" kind of disregard for everyone, then maybe try to write something vanilla and see what your creative brain does with it.

I just think sometimes, when you're feeling stagnant, to mix it way up.

Feel better, girlie.

Haleigh said...

Oh I know this feeling well too. I've definitely lost my mojo. Since I haven't figured a way around it yet, I don't have any advice, but you're most certainly in good company.

The thing I admire most about you, Mo, is your take-no-prisoner's attitude. You'll get your mojo back, I have no doubt of that. It's just a matter of HOW and WHEN.

I like Marn's suggestion. I've been debating that myself - giving up on these infernal revisions that are so daunting they kill my motivation, and instead just writing for fun again. Fanfic even. I love fanfic for that - you can delve into characters you already know well and love.

When I was in school, our weeks on campus were run a lot like a conference. The last one I went to, I felt like a fraud - I wasn't writing, wasn't revising, had nothing really to pitch, except the same unfinished book I've been working on for years. But at the same time, it was good because the enthusiasm and love of writing is contagious.

Speaking of school - Shelly Adina was one of my professors! She's AMAZING!! Friendly and honest and a wonderful font of information on everything from characters to publishing.

TerriOsburn said...

I'm so happy you used one of my prettier quotes. ;)

I keep telling you this but I'll repeat it again. You are exactly where you need to be. You're in the position tons of writers want to be. On the cusp of putting out your own incredibly unique work with more where that came from.

You were already a talented writer and now you have working with editors under your belt, which has made you even better. A little focus. A strict plan to keep from getting overwhelmed. It'll all come together and you'll be on fire again.

Like Hal, I have complete faith in you!

MsHellion said...

Actually it sounds like you've picked your battle and it's the morning of--you're dressed for warfare and ready to engage, but wondering if God is really on your side for this (so to speak).

I don't like a whole lot of Bible verses--but there's a handful, and one is this: "Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists." You just gotta have faith, kid. You've come for the battle; you're doing your part. Let the Universe do her part.

TerriOsburn said...

I need a Like button for Hellie's comment.

Maureen said...

Marn - Hugs back at ya! Write That is something I haven't tried. I've considered trying the old journal approach, it worked once. My first books walked out of a journal...

Worth a try!

Maureen said...

Hal - Shelley is so sweet! She's offered to help me through the first hurdles of self-publishing. And hell, she lives less than an hour from here... So glad I met her!

I know the dreaded fraud things. I am an IMPOSTER! I imagine conferences are full of us, running around convinced that we are about to be unmasked at any moment!

We need a club.

I do keep going to conferences and hoping for an injection of mojo...who knows!?

TerriOsburn said...

Ironically, most if not all the writers at this conference will tell you they feel that imposter thing. So really, we already have a club. LOL! And we're meeting in less than two weeks!

Maureen said...

Hmmm, I'm on the cusp? That might make sense. Teetering on the edge isn't a very comfortable place, so it could feel like, dare I say it... failure.

I think I can work with that vision...

Just have to get off my butt and take those steps...

Maureen said...

Hels, from the bible comes a quote I could see come right out of one of the new age books I own! HA!

I guess it's a matter of embracing faith and pushing through the doldrums and just plain old exhaustion.

Geared for battle...yeah, that's the hat...

Maureen said...

Yeah, I wonder if we'd feel better if we embraced the fear that we're all fakes or worse. I mean, you don't want to attract the thing you fear, but...if we all agreed that we FEEL this way, not that it's a truth, would we find power in it?

Nancy Northcott said...

Maureen, I think every writer hits a point like that sometime, except maybe for those lucky ones who sell one of their first manuscripts. I found that taking workshops not only helped improve my writing but energized me. It helps, too, to have writer friends who'll tell us to keep pushing.

I writer I know told me early on, "The only way to fail at this is to quit." I wish you luck and energy! Have a great time at National.

Maureen said...

Thanks, Nancy. I'll admitting, quitting flits across my mind now and then. Mostly when I'm just too tired to think, or when the brain won't stop obsessing on the failures, however it wants to define them on that particular day.

I don't know, I think I want it too much to quit. Which may be part of the doldrums... If I could detatch from the want and just embrace what before me...

Nationals should be a blast, I'm looking forward to that!

P. Kirby said...

Oh, sweetie, don't let it get you down. Seriously, don't. You. Are. Awesome.

I think for those of us who battle the beast--depression--there's always going to spots where our stupid brain chemistry overwhelms and it feels like everything is a f*cking chore.

It. Will. Pass.

Trying to make a living from a creative field is by its nature, frustrating, because, ultimately, it is so bloody subjective. Your beta readers may love a manuscript; even your agent may love it; but you can't find an agent/editor who agrees. Or you sell the story and it flops with the audience. This is writing.

No artist creates masterpieces, all the time, every single time. Even the history of great writers/artists/musicians is really a series of so-so works punctuated by something great once in a while. Creative folk have half-finished and discarded work all over their workshops (offices). Sometimes they get back to them and turn them into something great. Sometimes, not.

Which is why you can't give up. The more you write, the more likely you'll create more "masterpieces," and the more you'll improve in your craft.

If your current projects really aren't doing it for you, try something different. For practice, write something that you'd never even bother to sell. Drabble, flash fiction, fan fiction, backstory scenes from the current project.

It doesn't matter what, just something that kicks starts the muse. Something fun.

If it helps, I'd be happy to do the beta reader thing or you can bounce ideas off me. Boing!


TerriOsburn said...

I need a Like button for Pat's too!

I have to tell you, I'm really hating the word "failure" lately. Mostly because two people I care deeply about keep throwing it around and it's making me nuts.

That word is hence forth scrubbed from our vocabularies. If you are trying. If you are doing ANYTHING! Then there is no failure. While we're at it, the word "enough" is going too.

Maureen said...

Thanks, Pat... This seems to be the underlying theme...try something different.

Funny thing, until I got the prozac working, I didn't realize how much in a rut I was. For me, that is how it works. Now I'm at the place where I can see it and hopefully blast through it. Or chip through it...

You know how it works with depression, you have to acknowledge it and name it before you can take steps to set it aside. It's always the dance partner whose turn will come up again, but it's not the only name on the card!

You're a great beta reader, btw! Been looking over the notes you sent for Almost Human and going to dive into them. I'm gonna pitch the thing at the Nationals, so those notes are gonna be golden...

Maureen said...

Enough Failure, eh?

Well, lack of success doesn't have much of a ring to it either... I don't know, maybe it's like addiction, you have to believe you've hit the bottom before you can look back to the light?

Maureen said...

I promise, next Friday's blog will be pure excitement and celebration as Terri and I prepare for the Nationals!

TerriOsburn said...

Stop that. There is no failure and there is no lack of success. What did you set out to do? Get your books published. And what did you do? Get your books published. That is called success, my dear!

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Ditto Ter - we all need a like button on Pat's comments. So well said.

In no universe is putting words on paper, brainstorming, etc EVER FAILURE.

Every word you write, good or not so good, is a learning experience. An exercise in making your writing better. Even if it's showing you what not to do. There's value in that knowledge.

You only fail if you do nothing. Success is in the personal attempt not in the acceptance from someone else.

Love you lady!

Maureen said...

Hey, kids...what's real is what's real. And there are levels of success and failure. No absolutes, that I totally agree on. It's more about moving on after those places are reached.

I mean, I failed at dying...succeeded in living.

TerriOsburn said...

I'm not budging on this one. You lived. You defeated death. Or it wasn't your time. Whatever. But there is no failure.

Maureen said...


I don't know. It's in failure that we discover our capacity to rise from the ashes and test our strengths. Sometimes, you don't know what you can do until you've failed a few times.

Janga said...

Everyone has been so eloquent, I can only say "Amen" and remind you that friends are good at believing in you when your belief in yourself wavers. You have a lot of believers. I'm one of them. (((Hugs)))

TerriOsburn said...

You may miss the target, but that you made the effort to aim and throw means you did not fail.

Maureen said...

We may need to debate this further. I mean, failure isn't an end. Life is made up of a lot of failure, as well as success, they balance.

I admit, like most people, I let the fails weigh more, when I shouldn't.

I think one can succeed and fail at the same time...

It's in letting the failure have the last word where things never get better.

TerriOsburn said...

The only way you can fail is if you quit. So I agree, there is failure. But this "What if I do x, y, and z, and I fail?" is bullshit. You may do it and not get the results you wanted, but that doesn't mean you failed. You learn from whatever results you got and move on.

Maureen said...

I get where you're coming from, really!

MsHellion said...

My WW meetings are talking about this very thing this week. About being demoralized about where you are on your journey to good health and about how not to look upon your "lack of achievement" in pounds and inches as failure. You're here; you're still getting up each day, dusting yourself off, and doing your very best again today. It was a very good meeting. I know where you're coming from; it seems Terri has been trying to stop leaks from both sides of her email these last few months. *LOL*

I think some of this is about gearing ourselves to some lower expectations. Happiness and contentment keeps us motivated; and usually you can achieve those things by focusing on lower expectations. Achieving the smaller goals and the things in your actual control. This is confusing since everyone is always going around and saying DREAM BIG! GO BIG OR GO HOME!

Maureen said...

Very true. Thinking of rejoining WW in August. I was pretty good at focusing on the health stuff before. Hope I can do it again.

I guess the trick, for lack of a better word, with the writing is to accept I didn't necessarily do anything wrong. That's a hard place to reach for me. Because the name of the game is comparisons. Compared to...I majorly failed. Compared to others - I succeeded.

On any given day I am a ping pong ball.

P. Kirby said...

I think some of this is about gearing ourselves to some lower expectations.

This is actually an effective strategy for me. Let's say I really, really, really, don't want to write. So instead of saying, "Self, you must write 1000 words," I say, "Fine, just sit down and write 20; they don't have to be good; just add up to 20." So I sit down and write twenty, which, almost invariably turn into 40, then 50 and so on.

I do this with lots of stuff. Learn the fiddle this way. If I didn't want to practice, I'd say, "Take the thing out of the case and play a scale." And an hour later, I would have practiced, as usual.

Basically, I have to sort of trick myself into getting started. Once I get past the hump, stuff gets done.

Maureen said...

Trickery of that sort I get. Lowering expectations I get, but honestly. When it comes to expectations from the greater world I'm not sure I can get much lower without totally burying myself.

There is realistic and there is giving up on the greater world. And I am enough of an egotist I believe I am worth notice.

Which goes to war with the word enough when it comes to expectations.