November 15, 2011

Advantage - Kai Strand

First, my short story, Bungling Lulu, is available online for your reading pleasure. Who ever heard of a clumsy pixie? Poor Lulu struggles to remember all the rules of flying. I’d appreciate if you’d leave a comment and share the story link to make me look popular.

Second, my short story, Dragon Drool, is in the current issue of Beyond Centauri (Oct 2011). A dragon with a head cold has to rely on a girl to help him get back to flying condition. Order the issue or subscribe for a year.

Happy reading.

Since this is November and many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d talk about why I’m not.

I was laid off from my work at the end of June. I have not found any comparable work since. So while I continue to look, I’m writing. A LOT. Maybe too much. Is that even possible? No, it isn’t, but having so much uninterrupted time to write takes just as much discipline as not having enough. It is so easy to be distracted by an online episode of Sing Off. It’s eerie how easy it is to spend hours staring at the Twitter feed waiting for someone to say something clever enough to retweet. It is amazingly simple to get off track because the bunny is chewing my slippers (she loves my bright red carpet slippers. Nom nom.)

But now that I have the time, I’m desperately trying to take advantage of it and actually write. I completed a new novel and most of the edits in one month. My critique group is helping me with it now; the second month. I didn’t even realize that sort of time line was possible for a novel! I had to give up short stories when I started work 6 years ago, but lately I’ve been writing and subbing and getting some published.   It is so much fun to be able to work on them again. Not that I’m necessarily any good at them, but I believe they help refine a noveler’s craft.

Another thing I have so much more time for is researching submissions. This is particularly exciting, because it was a major source of frustration for me when I worked. It takes a lot of very precious time to research places that are open to submissions, to figure out what they want to receive, if they produce a quality product, if they have a good, bad or indifferent reputation in the industry. When you don’t have a lot of time to write, the time given to research becomes even more valuable. Now the research is actually (almost) fun. I’ve found all sorts of new publishers and magazines that stayed off my radar when I had to dash my way through the lists, blogs, and chat sites.

If this were a tennis match, the announcer would have just announced, “Advantage – Kai Strand.”

Enough bragging, I outlined all of this for a couple of reasons. First, I know many of you can’t call yourselves fulltime writers so you’re sticking your finger down your throat right now over my newfound love of researching publishers. But you might notice that I mentioned things I gave up in my writing while I was working. You have to decide what part of your writing is most important and stick with it. I decided writing novels was more important to me than shorts, so I gave them up. Second, you have to find your discipline. I did NaNo one year when I found it difficult to write on a regular basis. I needed the structure of NaNo to get me writing everyday in amongst working, wifing, momming. I took my laptop to my daughter’s volleyball practices and got most of my NaNo words down while cheering her overhand serve. Right now it isn’t difficult for me to sit down at the keyboard five days a week and write. That’s why I’m not doing NaNo. Yes, the irony of me having the time to do it did not escape me, but I don’t NEED it.

If you feel you are a writer, truly feel you are a writer, then bouts of non-writing, whether it be from lack of time or lack of desire or discipline, most likely physically pain you. Don’t beat yourself up. Think about what you want from your writing, think about what kind of writing you truly love to do and then do only that. Write a little each day or write more three times a week; whatever your schedule, write enough that it becomes measurable for you and you see progress.

I’m not gonna lie. I love having this time to work on my writing, but I know it probably won’t last and one day I’ll be fitting the writing, editing, research, and submitting in around a work schedule. Until then, I’m going to take advantage of my opportunity to pretend I’m a fulltime writer. There is always something in our current situation that you should take advantage of. Mine is obvious, time. What is in your current situation that you may not have in the future that impacts your writing and you should be taking advantage of now? The children in your life? An inspiring view from a room? Your eyesight? Your memories. There is always something.

My new goal is for that tennis announcer to say, “Game, Set, Match – Kai Strand”

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