Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I'm BACK and not Too Insecure About it!



It is with some trepidation that I sit down to write a blog post. Not just any blog post, but my first since May 22, 2016. At that time I had decided that almost three years of BATTLE OF THE BANDS was enough for me. I also decided that I needed a break from blogging in general. I never intended to stay away this long, but ‘you know how it is’ one thing led to another and here we are and it’s October 5, 2016, almost 5 months later.

Severe health issues kept me from enjoying the summer here in Tahoe as I would have liked, but I do have a nice deck and a great chair where I spent a lot of time reading and sunning myself while recuperating. Hopefully, that is all in the past and I will be able to get on with my life and back to some of the things I really enjoy.

Anyway…what better place to start than with ‘The Insecure Writer’s Support Group’, a place where writers come together to vent their insecurities and lend a supportive hand to each other. I hope my thoughts will be well received, but if not, well, I’m not going to let that bother me too much. I tend to be a weirdo like that and have learned to be more secure in who I am.

Before we get into it, I want to express my thanks and direct you to the blog for the IWSG. TO FIND IT CLICK HERE Please stop by and check out the list of other participants (there are quite a few, I’m now number 250 on the list), also don’t forget to thank Mr. Cavanaugh for his efforts in our behalf, and the other dedicated folks who are helping out this month.

The QUESTIONS for this month is: How do you know when your book is ready?

As I first read that I misinterpreted it to mean, ‘How do you know when your book is finished?’ and for me that’s easy. All three of my WIP’s have begun as a piece of flash fiction or short story that is the actual ending for my story. Strange, I know, but that’s just me, for some reason the real inspiration comes from wanting to know ‘the rest of the story’ once I have an ending.

Be that as it may; that was not the question. So, I have to admit that I’m not sure how to really, Really, REALLY know when your book is ready. I know that with the story that is closest to my heart, I keep going over it and making little changes, all in the hopes of making it better. I believe the basic story to be good, but fear that I'm not telling in well enough for others to enjoy. 

I know I need input from other sources (beta readers), but this is an area where I have not had good luck. Several people have disappointed me by offering to trade WIP’s and do critiques. Now, I’m not beyond reproach here, as there have been two where I let the other writer down and did not finish a critique for them (but in fairness to me, neither did they). On the other hand there have been a few where I did a complete critique, and in one case more than one, and have still not yet received any word at all on my first five chapters. Oh well, such is life.

There have been favorable responses and a few suggestions for changes from close friends and family, but it’s hard to trust that they are being completely honest, and simply not wanting to hurt my feelings.

My honest conclusion is that I probably need to fork over the money for some professional editing/critique to know for sure if my work is ready to be pushed to agents and publishing houses.

I am interested to troll around the IWSG blogs today and through the rest of this week, to see what helpful suggestions other have to offer. Alas, the purpose of the IWSG. Looks like I picked a good month to return.

Not yet ready to commit to a regular blogging schedule, but I am trying to make a comeback and promise to post something else this month. If I start out slow (posting twice a month), I may be able to keep up and eventually figure out a more regular posting schedule. Until that time…Happy Trails!

60 comments:

  1. Welcome back!!!!
    I hope you have better luck in the future with critique partners. That's the one place I've been really blessed. Maybe you want to borrow mine?
    And I see the ending first as well. I know where it ends, I just need to figure out how to get there.

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    1. Thanks Alex for stopping by so early in the morning. I appreciate the encouragement. Glad to hear that I'm not the only weirdo who likes to start and the end.

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  2. Welcome back!

    If you're looking for more dedicated critiquing, maybe try something like Scribophile.com. It's a writing site that exists precisely for critiquing - you can't even post your own work until you critique other people first, so it's a self-fueling system.

    Good luck!

    IWSG October

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    1. Thanks C.D., Nice to meet you. I aleady checked out this site and it looks like an excellent place to being. Thank you so much for the tip.

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  3. Welcome back to the blogland shack. Yeah, I already know how my book ends before it starts. Blog when it is best for you, best way to be.

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    1. Hey Pat, thanks for stopping by. Yay! for another weirdo you like to start at the end. Actually, maybe it's not so weird after all.

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  4. *Looks sheepishly* I'm sorry! Getting my book *ready* for publication took up more time than I thought it would. Once my *tour* is over (end of October) I promise I'll finish reading your book!

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    1. Ah, you have nothing to be sheepish about. I was enjoying your book and had gone through about half when I got really sick and that was the end of just about everything for me. I really should have sent you a note and the portion that I had finished, but like I said everything in my life came to a grinding halt. Glad to see the book coming out and I look forward to reading the finished product. What I had seen was good, very good.

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  5. So good to see you posting again. Like you, I am finally getting back into the blogging. I was off for a few months. Good news, you are no longer #250. You have been moved up to #234 as of this morning. There was more purging and now I am #249. There is no one behind me. (True story of my life).
    As you are probably aware of too, we are still keeping the BOTB alive. :)
    Though I have decided to go back to it, I have decided to cut back to posting to it only once a month, instead of two.

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    1. I had heard about some of your trials and I'm glad to see you coming back to blogging all around. We each have to find our own way and set the schedule that fits that way best. Glad to hear I'm moving up in the world, at least the world of the IWSG. I doubt you'll be 'at the end of the line' for long.

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  6. Welcome back! I don't know if any of us ever feels our book is 100 percent ready. There's always something we could tweak if we just read through one more time.

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    1. Stephanie, I'm sure your right. I've been through my work so many times that I'm never sure if I'm actually reading it or it's just coming to me from memory. The good news it I'm finding that I really like it again.

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  7. FAE ~
    I gotta say I'm surprised to see you back blogging. I really figured you were gone for good. (Maybe I don't really know you that well after all.)

    I'm pretty sure it was JOHN STEINBECK who said he knew a story was finished when he found himself just changing words here and there. When you've reached the point that you're second guessing original WORD choices, your story is finished. And I found out he was right by first-hand experience:

    Decades ago, I wrote a poem that I thought was pretty powerful. But as time went on, I kept going back to it -- first rewriting this line and that line, and then eventually just fussing over individual words and changing them.

    Then I eventually reached a point where I realized I'd sapped all the power out of the piece by constantly searching for "the perfect words". I ended up with something that had a lot of spiffy words but all of the spirit (due partly to the spontaneity) had been sanitized and "unplugged". I'd ruined the thing by trying to make it "perfect", and unfortunately, I'd not even kept a copy of the poem in its original form. So it was gone for good. I learned from that experience and never made that mistake again.

    When you get down to the level of "rewriting words", you should just close 'er down and start working on the next project. So says John and Stephen.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Ah STMc, I'm actually glad to see that I can still surprise you. I too thought that I night have been gone for good, but then I decided that I had too much to say, to remain silent.

      You have actually given me some very good advice and I intend to take it.

      I had this very experience with a short piece i wrote about my family. It was something I just sat down and wrote spontaneously. It was filled with emotion. I did a lot of tinkering with it and managed to remove all the 'heart'. I was sadly disappointed in myself for that one.

      You and Papa Steinbeck,eh? Now that surprised me. Or maybe not so much. The minute I typed that I remembered it was Hemingway that you really didn't care for much, not Steinbeck, right?

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    2. Yeah, Hemingway is the one I don't like. Steinbeck was a truly great writer.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    3. Ok, now I'm on the same page with you.

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  8. So glad your rejoined the blogging world by rejoining IWSG. It's not easy finding a critique partner. My first one was my best but her career was moving ahead so much faster than mine that we parted ways amicably. Keep trying and you'll find one that works for you.

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    1. Thanks Susan, this seems to be the general consensus. I'm not giving.

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  9. When you've got something you're passionate about there's nothing better than a professional editor. Welcome back. Great to read your post and hope your health continues to go in the positive direction. We're almost neighbors.

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    1. I'm thinking the same thing, and looking for a good professional, reliable, and trustworthy editor.

      Almost neighbors? So, where are you?

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  10. I've had a few semi-professional editors look at my work - semi in the sense that they know me personally and we had to do the dance around the "I might offend you with my critique" thing, but we made it past that and I accepted all the help I could get. :)
    I hope you continue to heal and feel well!

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    1. Thanks Tyrean, I'm definitely looking.

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  11. I've done a few critiques and never had they return the favour. It's sad when that happens. But I learned a lot about my own writing while doing those crits, so it worked out. Besides, good Karma is always better than bad Karma. Welcome back. There are some bad editors out there, so get references.

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    1. Well said Joylene, and I can use all the good Karma that might come my way. I too have learned a lot about my own writing from critiquing other work.

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  12. Yay! Good to see you back. Sorry about the health issues, but in this post you seem to be back in form.

    I've never gone the beta reader route, but then I've not had much to be read. I won a couple of contests where they read like 10 pages or something and that yielded some helpful feedback.

    I'd like the idea of just being under contract to a publisher who supplies the editor and they work with me on any revising that needs done. But I'm not sure that things work like that anymore most of the time.

    Good luck with your book and may you find the best solution.

    A balance between your own best judgement and the opinions of reputable others I think is the ideal outcome, but I think we rarely get that balance.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Thanks Arlee, I appreciate you stopping by. I'm with you on the fact that you do have to use your own best judgement. Getting that balance is a difficult thing to do.

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  13. My answer to this question is "a leap of faith." That might work for you as well FAE. Good to see you back, for however long that lasts.I hope you are feeling much better; I miss your posts and emails.

    I have a lot of people I've cultivated relationships with to help with my own writing/feedback needs. Sometimes I crit more than I write, and sometimes the feedback is annoying; but time and perspective, and trust all round out the problems. Trust is a hard thing with creativity.

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    1. Yeah, I read that at your blog and I agree a 'leap of faith' is necessary and sometimes that all.

      Cultivating relationships with others is probably my big problem, because you know how weird I can be. Major trust issues here for sure

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  14. Too bad about the critiquers you've had. It's hard to find a good one, one you can depend on. Glad you're back. Take care of yourself.

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    1. Thanks Diane. I appreciate you stopping by.

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  15. So on critique partners... It takes a TON of looking to find the right people. I always advise exchanging 3 chapters with the option for both people to back out. Using this "dating" method, knowing on both end that there are no strings attached, worked well for me. Even then, I went through a # of potentials before settling on my critique partners. My first critique partner came from an online writing conference where we connected with one another's writing. I've found several through a tight knit writers group on Facebook. I find asking friends who are long-standing online friends works best. You want people who are invested in you. Period.

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    1. Thanks Crystal, some real good advice here. I've tried that first few chapters, 'dating' approach. I want someone who can be somewhat invested in what I write. I've offered to do a few critiques and once I got into the work/subject matter, I found it was something I just couldn't pursue. I want someone to be honest about that with me. If they can't make some investment in my work, best to call it right off the start, because how could that not sway your opinion.

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    2. Right? You're very smart about your approach. There's also the option of finding an online critique forum. I used critters.org for a little bit. It's genre specific, but until you have solid people of your own, it's not a bad medium.

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    3. Thanks Crystal, I'll check that site out.

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  16. Oh, I dearly hope those health problems have eased off at least a little. I know my last three years have been ravaged by similar problems. Glad you had a good deck and sun, too!

    Are you aware of sites like Critters and Absolute Write? There you can meet other emerging writers and exchange different levels of feedback on karma-like systems, without having to pay hard money for professional editors upfront. It can be very helpful getting you to a better place in your writing.

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    1. Hi John, nice to meet you. My health problems are somewhat on-going (bad kidneys due to chemo, 15 years ago), but I really just need to pay attention and take better care of myself.

      These are some awesome suggestions. I'm going to check out those sites. I'm definitely looking to get to a better place with most things, but my writing for sure.

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  17. I met a lady at a book convention who only blogged once a month. It was what she could manage and keep herself on track with her writing. She said it worked out quite nicely. I thought about it, but for now, I'll try to keep the once a week schedule and adjust as I need to in the future.

    Sorry to hear you've had poor health, but happy to hear you're feeling better.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth, I'm learning that I can only do what I can do, not what someone else dictates or even suggests. I'm looking forward to publishing something fun for my second half of bi-monthly posting.

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  18. I met a lady at a book convention who only blogged once a month. It was what she could manage and keep herself on track with her writing. She said it worked out quite nicely. I thought about it, but for now, I'll try to keep the once a week schedule and adjust as I need to in the future.

    Sorry to hear you've had poor health, but happy to hear you're feeling better.

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    1. Such a good comment, you needed to say it twice, eh?

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  19. A professional editor will be honest. I know a good one who is very reasonable if you're in the market.

    Welcome back from such a long break.

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    1. I am in the market, so to speak. I'll be in touch.

      Thanks for the welcome.

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  20. Welcome back! IWSG is a great way to get back to the blogging world and stay in touch, even if it's the only blog you produce. (As it almost has been for me recently) :)
    I'm never ever done, even once they're published, I still want to change them. LOL

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    1. We all have to do what we need to do. sometimes even fun and important things need to go by the wayside for a time.

      I'm afraid that would be me...in the never being finished thing.

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  21. Good for you, getting back to blogging! This group is always there for support. I think there is an IWSG critique group Facebook page. You may want to check it out.
    Best of luck and don't give up!
    Heather

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  22. Thanks Heather, I'll look for that group on Facebook. Good to know.

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  23. So sorry to hear about bad luck with critique partners. I had a few horror stories too, BUT eventually I was very fortunate... through blogging... to find some AMAZING critique partners... Once you strike up close friendships with blogger writers, the next step is to see if they'd critique for you... That way you know they are sincere because you already bonded...

    Welcome back and we all take hiatuses from blogging from time to time. It is very wearing and time consuming, but if you post once or twice a month like most of us and visit regularly, you will find blogging a real pleasure again...

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    1. Thanks Michael, I am hoping to find the pleasure in blogging again. I did really enjoy it and the interaction with others in the beginning. I think i just needed a break. I have been heartened by the response to this post.

      I figure I just have to persevere on the critique partner front. Some really good advice here in the comment block.

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  24. Welcome back! We're both really glad to see you popping up again. We thought you were gone for *gulp* good.

    Critique partners are really hard to find. We're lucky that we have each other, and that we can be honest with each other (none of that fluffy 'this is all gold and you're so great' crap).

    Our advice on finding a critique partner? Find someone who will give you constructive criticism that's USEFUL to you. Ten different people could read the same book and all offer ten completely different viewpoints. Some of those right, some of those wrong. At a writing retreat one year I took the first three chapters of my solo novel. One agent said it was perfect as is, one agent said it should be first person instead of third person, and one agent said it should have been completely rewritten as a children's story. Yeah, like for little kids, illustrated. I didn't think any of them were right (that kids book one the most not-right), but I also knew that just because someone offered their feedback, it didn't make it right.

    Find a critique partner so that when they offer you feedback, you aren't shaking your head, going, "What the hell are they smoking?"

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    1. Ha! I too thought for a few minutes there that I was gone for good, but then after a good long rest, I find that I have to much to say to just fade into the sunset with my lips zipped. Thanks for stopping by. I was really afraid that most of my friends would have figured me for a gonner and not have even looked for me anymore.

      Your advice about critique partners is spot on. I was pat of a writer's group for a while and found the critiques I got to be really confusing, some really mind blowing (kinda like that children's story thing you talked about). One critique came down really hard on me for writing a story with multiple POV's. I really had to laugh and leave this particular writing group when a few months later (after I had become fairly inactive in it) that same person posted a story for review with multiple POV's (actually more that the 5 I had in my story). Interesting, very interesting, was about all I could think.

      I realize the importance of good honest feedback, but it is truly hard to find.

      Now on the topic of finding someone who makes me wonder 'What the hell are they smoking?' Not always a bad thing, if they are willing to share!

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  25. Thanks Patsy. appreciate you stopping by.

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  26. Perhaps blogs sometimes need to sit and ferment. I'm a slow blogger (have to be when I'm caregiver to hubs) but I still try to check in every now and then. I'd love to see your entry at the WEP challenge this month if you decide to try it. Welcome back. (PS - I missed a few BOTBs due to hubs numerous appointments - EEGs and the like).

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    1. Hi DG, nice to see you here. I've dropped out of BOTB. Three years was enough for me, but it carries on without me. See STMc fir the current list.

      I'' going to be traveling so my WEP Post is written and scheduled to go up on the 19th, at which time I'll also be checking out the other postings.

      I hope things are going well for you and your husband. Each of us can only do so much. When life calls, blogging has to take a step back. I think everyone understands.

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  27. Welcome back! I hope you're feeling better. It's so easy for several months to go by before we know it. It can be difficult to find critique partners, and I feel lucky to have the ones I do.

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  28. I'm finding you are absolutely correct about both things. It's hard to get back and good critique partners are like hen's teeth...very rare.

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  29. Nice to see you back in the blogging world, FAE. :) Sorry you've been sick and I wish you good health.

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  30. Hey Debbie, thanks for stopping by. Other than an annoying head cold, I'm currently doing well. Good wishes always appreciated.

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