Okay, so I’ve been laying on the mat after the big KO for a while now. Plenty of you guys have told me to take it easy and be good to myself. Now, I’m not very good at doing that. My solution to feeling crappy about writing is just to keep writing. This is not a good solution. Not only does it only reinforce my feelings of crapness, but it doesn’t help my writing either. Who writes well when they feel they suck? Not me.
So what did I do instead? I bought myself a handbag. There are two good things about my Hammerpants ms, the main one being prize money. Hehe. Here is a pic of the Handbag of Hope (Purse of Hope if you’re American). It is blue, slouchy, soft and best of all, my phone doesn’t get stuck waaaaay down the bottom so I don’t hear it.
Oh and I said there was a second thing didn’t I? Well, the second thing is that I’m pretty certain that I did something right in the first five pages of that ms. And I know what it is. I think I’ve said before that I suspected it was my conflict and character that was at issue and, yup, it is. The first five pages of the ms certainly sounded like I knew exactly who my characters were and what sort of conflict they had. The problem was, I actually didn’t. Because I didn’t think about it enough.
It’s like when you do a mosaic. You set out some parts of it beautifully and it all looks good. But then you find some blank bits you didn’t really see before. So you try to find bits to fit but they don’t quite. They’re the wrong size or the wrong colour. You jam them in somehow and from a distance it looks good but when you get up close, it’s all wrong. The bits of you’ve jammed in don’t work with the ones that are all set out beautifully. And the worst part is you kind of know you’re wrong but you don’t know quite why or how to fix it.
All my stories have been like this mosaic. They all look fine from a distance but when you get in close, there’s a lot that doesn’t fit, that doesn’t work, that doesn’t hang together nicely. So I have been trying to sort out all my pieces BEFORE I start the mosaic. This is – for me – extremely difficult because it’s changing the writing habits of twenty years! Argh. Even the Handbag of Hope doesn’t help much with this.
The result has been me spending at least a week on the first chapters of a number of stories. It’s agonising to be honest because I’m desperate to get to the rest of the story, but I have to say, once all the bits of my mosaic have been worked out – the characters, the conflict, at least the inciting incident and a vague idea of the plot (pantser, yes, that’s me) – it’s amazing how much better that first chapter is. And I’ve come to the conclusion that if something doesn’t quite feel right with a character – a bit of the conflict or an attribute or whatever – then I should NOT write until I’ve figured out what it is and put it right. Sigh.
Anyway, the main thing is that yes, I have been writing. I have a chapter ready to go for a contest that dear Dr Jax and my CPs think is better than anything I’ve done recently (yeah, I wanted to put that in there because God knows, you have to grab those lovely compliments when you can). I have another ms that I will rewrite for Carina. And then another couple of stories that I am just going to write and see where they take me.
I have my mosaics all laid out and right at this moment all the pieces fit. It’s a good feeling to be able to fix that particular problem. Of course there will be other problems, others I don’t know about yet but that’s the wonderful thing about learning eh?
So for those of you who are looking for some positive stuff after you’ve had your heart cut from your chest while it’s still beating. By a spoon. Here it is: there is life after rejection. It may take a while but there is still creativity. And there is a lesson to learn from it. Pretty much what you choose to learn is up to you but mine is this:
Yep, I drink a whisky drink….;-)