I did it! I finally got agent feedback and it was GREAT! But now she's asked me to revise a few things and I'm scared to death I'm going to mess it up!
No show notes this week, folks. I'm suffering from what a number of writers are at this time, a lack of motivation to write anything, which is too bad considering that this is an ideal time for writers to write for posterity.
If you'd like to know what I'm up to on social media, you can check me out on Twitter: Sayword B. Eller & WritingThingPod and Instagram: Sayword B. Eller, About This Writing Thing, & Kimber Trace. You can also find me on Wattpad & at my website: saywordbeller.com.
Thanks for listening!
Or visit my website: saywordbeller.com
Show notes available HERE.
Kircher, Madison M, 2020, What's Going on With My Dark Vanessa and Excavation?, Vulture, February 3, 2020: https://www.vulture.com/2020/02/my-dark-vanessa-and-excavation-book-controversy-explained.html
Ortiz, Wendy, January 9, 2020, https://twitter.com/WendyCOrtiz/status/1218999472224493569
Ortiz, Wendy, 2020, Adventures in Publishing Outside the Gates: On the Industry's Gatekeeping, Gay Mag, January 29, 2020: https://gay.medium.com/adventures-in-publishing-outside-the-gates-a06f089c372e
Ortiz, Wendy. Excavation: A Memoir. Future Tense Books: Portland, OR, 2014.
Oswald, Anjelica, 2016, The multimillion-dollar sums that celebrities make on books — and how they actually sell, Business Insider, March 9, 2016: <https://www.businessinsider.com/celebrity-book-advances-2016-3>
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network): https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence
Russell, Kate Elizabeth. My Dark Vanessa. William Morrow: New York, 2020.
Russell, Kate E., 2020, Note to Readers, http://kateelizabethrussell.com/note-to-readers.
We're living in strange times, folks. I never thought I would have to worry about a toilet paper shortage in my lifetime, yet here I am...worrying.
This is my first episode back in a while and I'm talking about current world events (i.e. COVID-19), social distancing, and my first FULL REQUEST! I love saying that!
I'm also excited to give you a bonus episode this week! Episode 20 (available 3/27/20) is my review of Wendy Ortiz's EXCAVATION and Kate Elizabeth Russell's MY DARK VANESSA.
You can also visit my website: saywordbeller.com
Until next time!
Have you ever been close to the finish line with a project only to find yourself paralyzed by a sudden onset of impostor syndrome? This was me two weeks ago and I'm talking about it in today's episode.
Hello, and welcome to About This Writing Thing, a weekly podcast about living the writing life. I'm your host, Sayword B. Eller, novelist, short story writer, podcaster, and imposter.
Prior to recording this, when I first began writing these show notes I'd nearly added the additional 14,000 words needed to my WIP. I had less than 2500 to go and only 15 chapters left to edit before sending to my editor. I should have been feeling great, but I wasn't.
On the second of February 2020, I entered the shower in a fine mood, but exited almost in tears. Yes, it happened that fast. As I lathered my hair, I thought of Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel, I thought of the RWA scandal and the American Dirt criticism, and how I may be criticized by the masses for the diverse characters included in my narrative (of which there are 2 in a cast of less than 10), and I thought of just how many of us are going for traditional publication and how many make it, and then I thought of how many get the first book deal and don't get another…you get the point. By the time I stepped out of the shower my anxiety was through the roof and I was left thinking, what's the point?
I tried to talk to my husband about it, tried to get him to understand exactly what it was I was feeling, but I couldn't articulate it because I wasn't even fully aware of what I was feeling. Yes, I was overwhelmed by the emotions of what if I'm not good enough to ever be published. My social media presence is small, my query writing skills are abysmal, and I don't even want to talk about my ability to write a synopsis. As with everything else, I am an undesirable because I'm not good enough.
And there is was. Despite having gained so much knowledge about my craft, regardless of how many people tell me I am a strong writer, I don't think I'm good enough, and all these outside things are confirming what I think I already know. I'm not good enough.
Turns out, I was suffering from full onset Imposter Syndrome.
In her 2008 article, Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, Gill Corkindale defines impostor syndrome as, "a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success" (Corkindale). At this point I'm less than three thousand words from finishing my third novel. Three. I've seen a story published in a literary magazine and I have several writers who look up to me as a type of authority on writing. I'm successful at my craft in my own right. Yet, I felt as though the completion of this novel meant nothing because it's just another novel that will sit unpublished despite the fact that (IMHO) it's really good. It’s relevant, it challenges the reader to like someone they probably wouldn't like out of mere misunderstanding and first impressions in real life. This book, if given the chance, could really be something. Despite knowing all this I wallowed for two days.
On the second day I made myself really think about what was going on. Yes, on the first day my insides were upside down and churning without me thinking beyond how absolutely desolate I was feeling, but the next day I sat in the sun and made myself think about all those things that were holding up my progress.
Yes, there are eyes looking with increased scrutiny at every published word. That isn't a bad thing. Is it scary that I might end up on the dark side of that attention one day? Hell yes, but I know this special attention, even if it does seem unfair and unwarranted to some, is mostly being done with the best intentions.
Yes, according to Donald Maass's book I'm probably not going to see the success that I once imagined in this new world of best seller or super best seller. If I'm like the average population, and I usually am, I can expect to see moderate success. I need to be okay with that even though I'll still be reaching for the top.
Yes, my social media presence is sub par. Less than 2,000 followers on Twitter and less than 500 on Instagram. It isn't ideal to some agents and publishers, but the great writers who came before me didn't even have social media. Donald Maass's book may be telling me super success isn't likely, but it's also telling me how important word of mouth is and that's something that was around well before social media. It may make things a bit slower, and I may still be rejected based on my lack of numbers, but it doesn't mean I don't have a chance.
Yes, there are a lot of writers in the world going after what I am, but there are also 7 billion people in the world and 86% of them can read. In short, there are enough readers to go around. Especially considering not all readers only read one author.
Finally, yes, there are plenty of authors who get one book deal and don't get another from their publisher. I know a couple. It's not the end of the world. And, to be honest, that's a bridge to cross if or when I get to it.
On the third day I got back to work, adding another 4k to the manuscript to bring its total to a little over 83k. In case you're trying to do the math, before my breakdown I had a very productive week. I added 11,000 words in 3 days. This book was ready to be finished and I was ready to finish it.
Now, two weeks later, Catching Fireflies has been to the editor. Notes are good. In fact, they're far better than expected. I'm working on the query letter, the first draft of which has been sent to my mentor. I'm feeling good again. I know the imposter syndrome will creep up on me again at some point, but I hope by then I've signed with an agent. I might be able to talk myself down a bit easier.
That's it for this week. Please excuse my lack of episodes this year. Next week I'll be revisiting those goals I talked about in January and, hopefully, updating you on the status of the dreaded query.
If you liked this episode, please give me a like or subscribe, or both. I won't be upset If you share me with your friends. The more the merrier. For those local, I'm hosting a workshop in May with a couple of writer pals. We'll be talking about making time for your writing, how to write engaging short fiction, and turning your memories into essays. The Find the Writer in You workshop will run from 9:30 to 12:30 on May 2, 2020 at the Asheboro Public Library in Asheboro, North Carolina. It is free and open to the public. I encourage you to join us if you're nearby.
As usual, if you'd like to see what I have going on you can check out saywordbeller.com or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter using the handle @saybeller. There is a Twitter account for this podcast @writingthingpod.
Thanks for listening. Have a great week and happy writing!
2020 is all about submissions! Well, and writing and podcasting and workshops, but you get my point!
Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @saybeller
Follow this podcast on Twitter: @writintthingpod
Music: Blue Dot Sessions, Cupcake Marshall on Love & Weasel (2019).
Sad news for this girl, I'm not ready to query after all. Sigh.
Hello and welcome to About This Writing Thing, a weekly podcast about living the writing life. I'm your host Sayword B. Eller, writer for women, podcaster, and MFA student.
I'm not one to talk much about my goals. In fact, I rarely set any for myself because I so often fail at reaching them. Same thing for resolutions. Why set something when you'll completely disregard it afterward. I'm not sure why I do this, but I do, so…that's me. This year I've decided to go against myself and set a few achievable goals. Maybe the problem with the goals I've set in the past is that I don't believe I can reach them and, thus, I sabotage myself bringing that self-fulfilling prophecy to fruition. Don't worry, I'm not getting into all that in this episode. I just happen to have realizations while recording and that's one of them. Thanks for helping me figure myself out!
First, I want to give you some updates. You know last week when I was so excited because I was finally finished with my book? Well, turns out I'm not. I'm one of those people that always says, when the story's told, it's told, no need to add words just to fit the market expectations. Unfortunately, agents and publishers don't share that thought- or so I've heard. This leaves me with two choices: 1) Submit it as is at 67k words (14k short of industry standard) and be rejected every single time, thus shattering myself over and over again because there is little hope an agent will pick up a women's fiction book that is so far below the standard of 80k, OR add the words. After much deliberation (and lamentation) I've decided to add the words. This is frustrating for a few reasons; my query timeline is thrown off, I have to put off really beginning my next project, my research trip may be postponed (because why research a topic if I'm not writing about it, right). I'm not dwelling on it. Like any writer worth their salt, I'm focusing on the task at hand. I'm adding the words. The only way I'm going to get this book finished is one word at a time. Eventually they'll add up to 80,000, right?
So that's my sort of sad news. I'm sad (and frustrated) that I'm not finished and can't move forward with querying, but anything that makes the story stronger will be worth it, right? Right? I really hope so. I don't want to be working on this book in March.
Enough about that. Let's talk goals. I don't set goals or resolutions, as I mentioned before I don't set goals for myself often, mainly because the moment a goal is set my brain says, "Nah." This year, though, I've decided to set a few goals that my brain may be happy with.
1) Read more. I don't read as much as I should. We all know the golden rule, right. If you want to be a good writer you need to read a lot and write a lot. I don't do too much of either, so in 2020 my goal is to read more. I'm also planning to expand my horizons. Right now I'm reading Alyssa Cole's Loyal League romance trilogy. Yes, I'm loving it. I'm planning to do a vlog on them when I've finished them all. In 2020 I'm going to try to read a bit more outside my genre. I'll also try to incorporate more male authors. I tend to read books by women. Shocker, right?
2) Write more. I don't write every single day. This is one of the main reasons it takes me a year and a half to write a novel. Some days are very productive. Other days not so much. I'll be working to improve that this year.
3) Less television. I love tv. Movies and shows are my favorite things. I watched a lot of television when I was growing up and I can't fathom breaking up with it altogether. That being said, I've already stopped watching as much as I used to, but that's because of this next goal.
4) Less gaming. Hubby and I are currently addicted to State of Decay 2. So, I've stopped watching as much television because I'm playing more xbox. In order to be more productive I'm going to work on cutting this time way back. Full disclosure, I played the game for an hour before recording this episode. This will definitely take some effort.
5) More industry knowledge. The more I know about the publishing industry, the more I can talk about it with you. It's that simple.
6) More movement. I've never been interested in exercise. I think one summer in 1994 I flirted with being a runner, but that was when my little teenage heart thought I would be a model. My life is sedentary. In 2020 I'm going to make a concerted effort to be more active.
7) More writing & reading vlogs on my YouTube channel. I haven't posted a video in months, but I love the #authortube community, so I'm going to try to get back to it this year. Fingers crossed.
That's it. Simple, right? We'll see.
If you enjoyed this episode please give me a "like" and make sure to subscribe. Thank you so much for being here every week. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @saybeller. You can also follow this podcast on Twitter @writingthingpod.
Have a great week. Keep writing!
Do you have a fear of finishing? Turns out I do, and it's a big ball of complicated feelings that are causing issues with my new project. Sigh.
Mentioned in this episode:
Thank you so much for following my writing journey! If you like this show let me know! Leave a comment or give me a "like" and subscribe! Or both!
You can also see what I'm up to on my website: SaywordBEller.com
We all want the people we love to read our work. That validation is something we crave, but what if we stopped putting that pressure on ourselves and the people we love? I'm talking about my own experiences with this struggle and how letting go of the expectation has affected my process. No transcript this week. Sorry, y'all.
SPECIAL NOTE: In this episode I share the time I asked someone I admire to read my work and they didn't. In no way did I intend to come across as angry that they didn't read my story during the hardship they were experiencing. They truly were very sick during that summer and I completely understand not reading my story during a time when they were trying to recover from such an illness.
ANNOUNCEMENT: About This Writing Thing will be on hiatus until January 8, 2020. I say January 7 twice at the end of this episode, but that is incorrect. Episode 15 will drop on January 8, 2020 at 8:00 AM ET.
You can find this podcast on iTunes and iHeartRadio as well. If you like what you hear please like and subscribe. If you're feeling generous you can even share me with your friends.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and, more than anything, I hope you keep writing!