Writer’s Crippling Self Doubt: Part Two

There are a lot of things going on in my life right now and that of many other writers. Time for yourself is important and I can see how a lot of this reflects in my life. People think that because we’re writers we’re supposed to be moody and distat. And sometimes because of common misconceptions we even misconstrue what one thing is for another. Emotional support is necessary but also a sense of self-awareness. Take care of yourself my lovely readers/writers. I would be sad if you didn’t write/read a word.

Experiences with Language

So, I haven’t posted on this blog in almost a year now. Truth be told, I haven’t been writing much at all since I left college. At first I just wasn’t happy with what I was writing, and then I started having trouble even wanting to write or seeing a point in it at all. It was harder to motivate myself to read, and actually difficult to experience immersion in fiction. I just reread the same sentences over and over and then set the book down. At first I was guilty and ashamed about this. I hid it and felt like an impostor. Shame turned to self-loathing, and then to a detached realization that I didn’t matter enough to hate myself.

Over time, I just disconnected from my identity as a writer, along with almost every other part of my identity. I stopped caring about myself and almost everything else…

View original post 1,198 more words

Update

Hi everyone,

A lot has been going on since I last posted. Actually, even before that a lot has been going on. This semester has been a bit of a jumble for me and a number of things I like to do on a regular basis have been neglected. My blog posts have been lacking in terms of quantity, I think, and that reflects how much time I’ve been unable tomputninto my work. Usually I’d try to post 2 or 3 things, but lately I’ve been struggling to keep up.

My time in the MFA has been good. A little bit has been annoying, but nothing I don’t think I’m unable to handle. I think the issue lies with everything else I have to deal with.

I want to write and be able to dedicate myself to the things I love, like this blog. But there have been a number of things as of late that interfere with that and I finally need to step up and address them. That being said I have to take some time off from my blog, as well as other activities to address some issues at home. Try not to worry too much. I promise this is only temporary, but unfortunately it’ll be indefinite. As soon as I feel I’ve got material for you, and have dealt with everything going on, I’ll be sure to update.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog.

I’ll be seeing you soon.

A Short While in the MFA (Part 5)

I want to start out by saying that there are going to be days that are great and days that just suck. I’ve been excited about my time at my Grad school, and I at least want to make sure that you understand that I’ve only just begun. I started out the semester looking forward to the days of classes, learning something new and interacting with other writers. But I think my first semester was a little too easy compared to this one. I think the last couple of weeks have kind of slapped me in the face and made me realize something.

I’m not just a writer. I’m not just a writer.

I’m a full time MFA student with a part time job that works on novels and short stories during my free time, in a long distance relationship with pets at home to feed all the while trying to save up for transportation fees every month. And that’s just the start of it all.

The fact is my life interferes a lot with what I want to do. There are financial problems and family problems that I try to ignore, but will somehow find a way to resurface no matter how much I prepare. People you care about are going to do things to upset your life, make decisions that affect your life, for better or worse.

In my experience, the second semester is always worse, whether it’s the Undergraduate program or the Graduate program. I think that I over panicked during my first semester about transportation and the difficulty of no longer living on campus. Once I had a plan for that, second semester said “Hey, don’t forget me!”

I forgot the rest of the Universe.

Sorry, Universe.

I think, maybe, that I’m not the only one that does that. Maybe I am. Who knows? All I know is my year got harder, but with the difficulties all around me I’ve got to really think about what I want.

There is always the chance to change your mind.

Maybe I’ll go, maybe I’ll stay, maybe I’ll transfer schools so it’s less expensive or maybe I’ll stick to it.

I’m the stubborn type, so maybe I’ll push through it and keep going. I know that I don’t want to stop writing.

I wish I could do more, but I can’t. There’s a limit to even my strengths.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s going to be difficult. There are going to be days, weeks, months, semesters even, where nothing you do seems to work or go well. That shouldn’t stop you. And if it does, maybe it’s for the best. Take a break, recharge, but don’t forget that you had a goal. Don’t forget you had something you wanted to do. Look back at everything and see what was good, what you were strong at. Grab that, and try again. I’ll keep trying with you, even when it’s hard for me, too.  

What Movies Would Be Like If They Used Common Sense (146 words)

“A case of undeniable truths.”

The briefcase sits on the concrete ledge. Polly stands over it, reading the inscription on the top of the case.

“Well?” Polly says. “Do we open it?”

Eric digs his left foot into the stones on the ground. He glances up nervously. “I’d rather not, honestly.”

Polly takes a step, her sandal-ed feet kicking up loose stones. She looks back at Eric, a finger in his mouth as he bites a nail off. “Wanna go and…eat something instead?”

Eric nods, sighing as Polly passes him. The smell of V5 vanilla shampoo smacking his nose.

He turns around when they hear a click. As Polly turns, Eric grabs her face and stares at her. His lips move slowly.

“Nooo,” he says dramatically, eyes pleading.

Before she can protest, he grabs her arm and heads to the roof door. The case remains untouched.

Cover Letters and Query Letters (part 2)

Query letters are a lot more complex than cover letters, let’s just get that out of the way. There is a lot more information you need to put into it, and it does much more than a cover letter as well. Cover letters are your introduction to a literary magazine, short and simple, while Query letters are the gate way to a literary agent. When you’re writing a query letter, you are essentially asking and promoting your longer piece of work and looking for representation to get published.

There are always going to be sites saying this is the best way to write a query letter, and to be honest the best thing you can do is give the essentials and individual as much as you feel would work for your piece. Query letters, no matter what, require the following:

1. What are you writing for? (tell them you are seeking representation, that you did your research as to why you want them to represent you).

2a.  TELL THEM ABOUT YOUR BOOK! (write about your book in a paragraph or two, essentially telling the agent who the character is, what is the conflict they will face (focus on the overall conflict, not the subplots) and the ending. Don’t tell the ending, though–just suggest that something is going to happen. The point is to make them interested in the character and what will happen to them).

2b. After the summary, or blurb as some call it, include the book length. Some people encourage a comparison to another novel to help the agent get a feel for the tone or style of writing you have. This depends on how much you’ve read and honestly if you do it, make sure you research novels that are similar to some aspect of your novel which you want to focus on.

3. Tell them about yourself ( this is the part where you let them know if you’re a student or not, publishing credits you have under your belt–if any–and anything relevant to the book and your experience as a writer).

4. Include your contact information (and please, make sure you use an appropriate email address. Sexykitty93@gmail.com is not cool. It’s just…not.)

Your letter shouldn’t be more than a page. Ideally, you want this length because agents are always reading query letters. I mean, a lot of them. So, take the time to condense your writing and get to the point. Generally, you’d do  one inch margins; however, some literary agents have specific formats which prefer. So look it up!

After that, it’s all about how you individualize.

Here are some examples of some query letters that were successful, courtesy of Writer’s Digest. These query letters took individualization to whole new level, and honestly it’s pretty cool. This won’t always work, but if you do it write the agent will be impressed.

Here’s another really good example because it includes a letter and takes notes on what not to do.

The things you most definitely should not do are pretty similar to cover letters, and obviously more extensive due to the length. Some people try a little too hard forgetting that simplicity is sometimes better. Check out Writer’s Relief’s Query Fail. I think they have it down pact.

These letters will take time. Do the best you can, and have someone look at it for you if you can. It’s always good to have someone look over your work, whether a fellow writer, classmate, or even a friend. If you tell them what the basic format is then maybe they can tell you what they see as unnecessary. And remember to do the research. You don’t want an agent to look at your letter and think you’re wasting their time. They’re in this career because they love to read and work with writers. If you don’t put in the effort, then  neither will they.

Cover Letters & Query Letters (part 1)

If you are new to these two, please take notes.This is something you’re going to be seeing a lot of, if you’re writing a novel, short story, a memoir–basically anything that has to do with publishing you will need how to write this and how to get it out there. Because you know you want to get published.

Cover letters are used to quickly introduce your work, yourself, and express your interest in the magazine to an editor. A cover letter is your first impression, so to speak. So it’s really important that you have absolutely no grammatical errors.

Here’s an example of one I wrote:

[Personal Address]
[Date]

[Actual Name of Editor]
[Title/position they hold, usually ‘Editor’]
[“Name of” Literary Magazine]

Dear [Editor’s Name],

I have attached my previously unpublished story [Title here] to be considered as a submission for your new issue.

I found your magazine through New Pages and after seeing your latest issue, I thought it’d be a good fit. I also thought it very kind of you to offer commentary on our submissions, if not accepted. I would very much like to hear any commentary you have on my submission if it is not accepted.

I am a MFA student at [***]College and I have never published a work of fiction before.

Thank you so much for your time and considering my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

D. Arlene

You want to tell them:

1. what you are submitting (if it is a simultaneous submission state that!)

2. who you are (publication credits are okay, if you’re a student, sure–though not necessary; if it’s your first time publishing, yes!)

3. thank them for taking the time to read it.

In my example, I was submitting to a magazine I had just recently researched and read a couple of their stories. I enjoyed them, and when they came out with a themed issue they said they’d give feedback if rejected. It’s rare for magazines to do that and I felt that even if I didn’t get accepted while I had confidence, it’d be a good opportunity to see what an editor thought of my work. They requested that we write whether or not we’d like to have that.

Essentially every letter will different based on what the editor/magazine wants from you. Anything else is really optional. If you want to mention that you like their magazine, do so– I think it shows an appreciation for what they do. It also shows that you did your research, and you’re not wasting their time. I’d highly recommend it. Also, make sure you use an actual name for the editor. No one appreciates a generic ‘Madam/Sir.’ These are people taking time out of their lives to read your work. Show some respect and research where you want to send your short stories.

Here’s one example, and another for more specific details.

Some people mix up query letters and cover letters, or try to combine the two. That’s not the job of a cover letter. A cover letter is quick, let’s them know a couple of things like whether or not you’re serious about this and then they get to reading. Query letters are different. They’re for a literary agent, not an editor of a magazine.

Keep that in mind when you’re writing.

Sharing is Caring (Part 3)

Hello and welcome back to another session of Sharing is Caring!

I haven’t done this in a while and it’s nice to just sit back, read a bunch of stuff and share it with you guys.

Below are eight links to the web pages that I found either motivational or helpful and interesting in some way while I was away. Obviously, if I tried to share any more than this you’d go nuts, but this little list is sure to be helpful or at the very least insightful. I thought so. Honestly, I find them very truthful or something I can relate to in terms of newly acquired knowledge, and as such I’m sure you will appreciate them, too.

I’ve divided the links into two sections, the first being Self-revision or You as a Writer, and the second as Interactions as a Writer. The first set of sites I think have a lot to do with those of you who are still looking for advice and the best way to edit, the get the words down to the page. The second set, only a few sites, are for those who are writing and trying to figure out the best way to get noticed.

Self-revision or You as a Writer

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-a-plausible-character-3-key-tips

I think we need to start out with this one because I’ve seen some crazy things with authors these last few weeks. I’ve read pieces where the characters are just plain bonkers and I can’t even deal with this. READ THIS! Please! The point of writing characters is because you have a story to tell, but if the characters suck then you have a serious problem. You want characters are real as you or me. If you settle for mediocre or a static figure then you’ve wasted everyone’s time.

http://www.writingforward.com/writing-ideas/how-to-develop-your-best-novel-writing-ideas

Now, this is a new site I found and I can’t say for sure how good it is, but I did like this post because I always have novel ideas. ALWAYS. It’s insane how many I am currently working on. I mean, I’ll get to chapter six and say “Okay, I’m bored now.” And move onto the next one. I’ve got five in progress right now. Anyway, a little help on what you can do to get those ideas down to paper and maybe actually finish them never hurts. The best advice I can see from here is to go where your heart tells you. If you love something keep going with it. My issue is a short attention span. Hehehe.

http://writerscircle.com/2014/04/very-and-other-useless-words-to-erase-forever.html

A site I found via Facebook via my wonderful writer friends. I usually wouldn’t posts something about editing, especially when too specific as this blog post, however, they do make a lot of sense. There are a lot of things that writers do that can improved on, even if it’s removing a few words. It’s especially important when you’re doing a flash fiction piece or just to seem more like a pro. Watch your words!

http://writersrelief.com/blog/2013/11/five-signs-that-you-may-be-sabotaging-your-writing-career/

Writer’s Relief is constantly on these lists. I can’t help but find them to be a good source of advice and sometimes motivation. This one will be really helpful for those of us who have lost the edge or are on a search of finding their muse. In this post you get five signs of how bad you are messing yourself up when it comes to getting published or even writing something down. And that’s okay, it happens to everyone. Even me.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-s-parker-/never-tell-me-the-odds_b_6443966.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books
This is probably one of those motivational posts I was talking about. Really, it’s how you take it. I personally enjoyed reading this piece because the author was seemingly honest about his experience. And sometimes it’s better not to told how likely of a success you’ll be. The only thing we as writers want to hear are words of encouragement. And nowadays, in the current market, it’s extremely difficult.

Interactions as a Writer

http://writerscircle.com/2014/09/how-to-take-feedback-and-trust-it-too.html

Time and time again I find the lack of trust to be astounding. Then again, I can’t blame you. In my writing circle I’ve gotten some pretty bad critiques, if not any at all. The worst is when you get a critique that says “I like it,” points one or two things out and blabbers on without actually saying anything else. It’s a pain because you’re so desperate for real material to work with that you spend several hours peeling back the lines to find something that you can use to edit your work. Or maybe that’s just me.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/21/literary-journal-fees_n_6510292.html

Everyone seems to complain about how much a literary journal costs. Professors constantly say that you should read them and if you don’t then you’re only screwing yourself over. And they’re right. I’ve probably said this before in other posts, but the best way to get out there is to submit to journals no matter how small they are. The point is that you get published and Literary Journals help do that. The majority of these journals are not for profit, and that means they run the magazine as volunteers and without pay. Every cent goes to the publication and sometimes payment for the author’s work, too. Choose your magazines wisely. Follow the ones you truly enjoy. READ THEM or you will look like a fool when submission period comes around.

http://writerscircle.com/2014/10/how-to-get-published-in-literary-magazines-and-journals.html

This goes along with the above post. Besides reading a literary magazine, you need to know your audience. Be open-minded about where you submit, and even if you don’t get paid, it’s still one more notch in your “publishing to be a pro” belt. The point is to be seen. I recently met with a literary agent who said she read a small time literary magazine and actually went to meet the author to publish a book with him. She also said she’s never done that before. So, you never know what could happen. Getting paid isn’t everything, and be smart about how you go about your selection folks. If you do it the wrong way the magazine editors will probably feel insulted.

Alright, so here’s your list. Check out the posts, read them, tell me what you think. I’d love to hear some suggestions from you all about more sites that you believe are helpful or topics you’d like to hear about. Send me a line through Facebook or twitter! I’m always happy to hear from followers and readers. You guys are so awesome!