One of the mean lies I often tell myself about my writing is this:
"You are wasting your time with this story. It won't sell because it's not marketable. Or it's silly. Or it's too weird. Or you're not a good enough writer to pull it off. Or someone else will have this idea and write it better than you. Basically, just stop now. Don't waste the time. Don't waste anyone else's time, either."
When I get in this dangerous mindset, it's really hard to get words on the page. If I don't think those words are worth my time, then why write them, you know? Because writing is hard, and when you start a new project you have no idea if it'll be worth the time investment. The truth is, I have over a dozen novels sitting around that haven't given me a dime in return.
At least not yet.
Maybe they never will, but as I'm starting to see maybe it's more like the time investments I've made are coming back in returns I didn't expect.
Take HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, for example. This was my 13th novel written, but my 5th novel written was also about witches. It was called VOID. It wasn't very good, and no matter how much I edited it I could see the problems. I knew the book wasn't what I envisioned, but I couldn't quite grasp what I really wanted it to be. Well, when I decided to attempt witches again, I had a failed story to compare it to—and also an old idea pool to steal the best ideas from.
VOID did pay off eventually, because I wouldn't have been able to write HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW without it. I just didn't know at the time that's how it would play out.
The same has happened with RELAX, I'M A NINJA. A novel that I forced myself to see as a "failure" so that I could move on, now this book and the new indie publishing road I'm taking has been a means to reclaiming much of the confidence I'd lost in the years of rejection both from querying and submission. While I don't know if there will be financial returns, I believe I've already received the most valuable thing I could from my beloved ninjas: A renewed belief in myself and my work.
There are even a couple more things now coming out of the woodwork (secret things, sorry I can't tell you yet), where my old body of work is either coming to light or being revamped into something new. It's been really amazing to me, because I had given up on so many of these projects and accused them of being a waste of my time.
But more and more, I'm seeing that not a single word I've written was a waste of time. None of them I regret. All them have helped me become better and ultimately make it to being published. I'm starting to understand that I need to respect my words more, because I never know which ones will end up meaning something huge to a reader. Maybe I don't have the prettiest words around or the most profitiable ones or the smartest ones, but they are mine and these last nine years with them have never been a waste of time. Not one second.
I needed to read this today. I'm working on a new project after shelving unfinished the last two projects I started. I've been wondering if two stories up and died on me means that I don't have what it takes to be a writer. So hopefully I be able to push that demon aside for today and just keep writing.ReplyDelete
I heard once that it's easier to learn a third language than a second one. Even if the two languages have nothing in common. Writing must be the same way. Any writing that teaches you how to write will make the next project better.ReplyDelete
I love what you're doing with old stories! That is very uplifting to me because I tend to see things in terms of time and profitability. As an attorney, I get paid by the billable hour and it's certain. But when I write, there's none of that security and it drives me up the wall when I think about it. Best not to go there, I suppose.ReplyDelete
It's funny, I was thinking the same thing about the current WIP. A lot of the concepts are taken from an old book that will NEVER see the light of day. That book was awful, but some of the themes still haunt me. They've been their waiting for my skill with words to catch up to my ideas.ReplyDelete
My current WIP combines a lot of ideas that I've had for a long time but didn't think to put together like this for several years. And I seriously hope that one day I'll be able to make something out of my ninja story and all my other trashed ideas, too.ReplyDelete
Everything about writing is, after all, a learning experience.ReplyDelete
I so agree with this--never a waste of time. Every story written, good or bed, finished or not, helps make me a better writer.ReplyDelete
I needed to read this today. Thanks :)ReplyDelete
Exactly what I needed... That first quote is EXACTLY what my mind says over and over and over again as I work on this WIP... :( Going to go work on it with a better attitude. :)ReplyDelete
This is really beautiful. And I'll join the "needed to read this" club, too. ;) The last few months have been of the crazy variety that leaves me going, "Now WHY am I attempting to add anything else into my life again...???"ReplyDelete