This one time at Writer's Camp…
I went out of town this weekend for Thanksgiving, so I haven’t done much writing. I have done a ton of plotting and outlining, however, and I’m starting to think that I’ll be writing the Tobias Fox novels I owe when I get home. I was hoping to get into this anthology that features a villain’s point of view, but I don’t think I’m going to have time to write it. That stinks, but hopefully it’ll all work out in the end for the editor involved.
While scrolling through some of the writer’s groups I follow (you thought I was going to say “trolling”, didn’t you?) I saw a lot of people who weren’t submitting to anthologies because they didn’t have a story written already that fit the criteria that the editor was looking for. Instead of writing something new, they were simply brushing it off. Instead of looking at it as a challenge, they weren’t even trying.
Now, I’ve touched on this in the past, but it still bothers me when I see someone who says they desperately want to be a writer and be published, but then never step outside their comfort zone and take a chance. I’m not suggesting doing something over-the-top crazy, but why not see about taking a chance and writing something for an anthology that closes in four months. Can you write a 8,000 word or less story in four months? If you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo, then you probably have. So what makes it so difficult for some writers? Is it the ideas? Is it the characters?
Or is it the fact that, when given a solid deadline, most aspiring authors shrivel up and cry?
I know about this because I did this once, a long time ago, before I decided to be a writer. I was still in California, actually, and hadn’t made the mental transition from “I like to do this once in awhile” to “I must do this because I can’t afford therapy”. I was given a deadline by an agent, and I couldn’t do it. It meant risk, and at the time I wasn’t ready for any type of risk outside my comfort zone. So I wrote about 2,000 words and started banging my head against the wall. At 10,000 words I gave up, which is something I can’t afford to do anymore but, at the time, it didn’t matter because I hadn’t accepted the fact that I was an author. I had a hobby, and it was painting miniatures. Playing baseball (this was before I destroyed my shoulder for good). Writing for a living wasn’t anything I wanted to do, nor thought I would ever do.
So I missed the deadline, and my chance with the agent. Granted, I’m still friends with the agent, but I didn’t end up seeing anything in print until 7 years later, when Corruptor finally came out.
Take a risk. Don’t bust out that short story that’s been gathering dust in your file folder for the past nine years. Start, and finish, something new. You’d be surprised at what you can do if you challenge yourself properly, without people telling you that it must happen because of whatever month it is.
(yes, you can call me a hypocrite, since I used the NaNo to complete Wraithkin)