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A wedding and a possible divorce (not my wife)

June 26, 2009

I’m going to a wedding on Saturday.  (Trust me, this is related to writing; Clarion West specifically.)  Weddings are generally happy occasions with people coming to wish the new couple well.  But I suspect that every wedding has an angry spinster or two.  Or a jealous younger bridesmaid.  Or that guy whose girlfriend just dumped him.  In other words, though wishing the couple well and meaning it, there’s always someone hurting as they realize how long it will be before THEY say “I do.”

I am the spinster at the Clarion West wedding.  I want every attendee to have fun, learn, and succeed.  I am trying hard to keep up with the logs of their experiences.  But inside, there is that nagging feeling that this could have been my dance.  I can deal with that.  What I think is bigger is the issue of how long it will be before I get my turn.

Best-case scenario, I’ll be there next year.  (We are planning another baby inside a reasonable window of time there, so we may be looking at two years!  Let’s ignore that for a moment.)  I believe I will make it into one of the Clarions next year.  Does that make me egotistical?  I suspect it does, though I like to call myself “confident”.  Same thing.  I doubt it’s a stretch for a writer on the waiting list to expect to make it next year.  Anyway, that’s a long way off.  I still have to write new stories, isolate my “best”, send them out, wait out that interminable acceptance interval, get accepted (please), find the money, make plane reservations, wait until summer, then FINALLY go.  See, it feels like a lot.  Still, I know I need this kind of experience to really get me going.

Ever watch American Idol?  You know how there is always that guy that makes it all the way through the audition process and is the last guy cut, watching the dude standing beside him move on to primetime while he gets a heartfelt invitation to jump through the hoops again?  That’s me.  And the first episodes of the show are airing (or blogging) now.  I watch; I cheer; I’m sad.

I dwell on this now because I am slumped.  I can’t focus on writing.  I have other distractions contributing (notably my involvement with my church’s bible school), but I’m also inventing distractions.  I pulled out an old video game and am obsessing over it.  I started reading a book that has been on my shelf for months (though that may help).  I check my email for story critiques seven times a day.  Writing just isn’t coming out.

Face it, I’m depressed about CW.  Lame of me, but I am.  I dared to hope and now I reap the consequences.  I need something to snap me out of it.  I go camping in a few weeks; I tend to do well there (not internet to distract me).  I did some late-night freewriting for a story idea based on Japan’s Festival of the Naked Man; maybe breaking ground on a new project could get my wheels spinning again.  Or seeing some of my stories in print.  Or some forced keyboard time.  Or taking those morning walks I keep insisting I’m going to do.

I need to do something.

Moving on to the divorce part of the post, I find myself very disappointed with the SFF Online Writing Workshop.  The quality of the critiques I have received has been pretty good, but I am displeased with the quantity.  So far it’s just two apiece on the stories I posted.  Critters could usually deliver anywhere from eight to twenty, depending on the length of the story, though the quality of the comments was admittedly inferior (not immensely, but somewhat).  It’s tough to determine a consensus with only two and a consensus is what critique groups should offer best.  How do I make alterations based on that?  To make matters worse (the way plot lessons always tell you to), my one-month free trial is over in less than a week.  I need to decide: do I pay for a year or not?

I confess, a month is the time it takes for a story to reach the top of the Critters queue to get read, so maybe I need to give my stories a month at OWW to generate a reasonable number of critiques.  Still, I find some things lacking.  There is almost no incentive to offer a SECOND critique at OWW.  A story with no reviews earns double poiints, so why comment on a story with one or two?  The crit-4-crat approach may work better, but I have struck out there, too.  I opperedC4C on my longer story and have since had one taker.  I’ve been getting more attention on stories at Baen’s Bar (though, admittedly, the comments are less complete there).

We’ll see what I decide.  It may be worth the fifty bucks to try to generate a community of people who want to read my stuff (even if it’s just because I read theirs).  As for my jealous spinsterhood — this too shall pass.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009 1:02 am

    Hey, Scott. I know it’s depressing to read about Clarion West. So don’t!!!!

    The blog posting will still be there in a couple of weeks. Come back to them later. The important thing is to write. We’re all pushing ourselves to write a story a week and you should too!

  2. June 26, 2009 8:13 am

    Being one of the utterly rejected, I know how you feel 🙂

    Keep writing, keep going. That’s the key with this business, right? Keep trying. Life happens, but fortunately writing isn’t like gymnastics or modeling. We’ve got our best years ahead of us, there’s hardly a time-to-success-or-fail deadline.

    I’ve found with OWW that it takes a few weeks. My stories up right now have 5,3, and 3 respectively and they’ve been up for a few weeks. I tend to leave them up the full 3 months unless I have something else done and want feedback on that and generally that generates a few extra reviews. Also, I’ve found that while posting c4c is helpful, actually hunting down other people’s c4c is more useful. I’ve never had anyone fail to return a crit yet.

    I’ll join you in a story a week challenge, if you want. I’m spinning my wheels on the final 10 chapters of this novel anyway… we can totally keep up with Clarion W writers 😉 And writing some more experimental fiction might be fun, even if it’s doomed.

    • osomuerte permalink
      June 26, 2009 9:08 am

      Part of my desire to go to CW was to have the time to focus on writing. Now I have a daughter with a severe case of the terrible twos, bible school (almost over), mini-vacations, the honey-do list, a plumbing leak…and did I mention my daughter is two? A story a week is not happening.

      I did have a goal to fix “Leech Run” while CW is in session. I intend to do as much as I can, but I can’t afford to drop out of society (not if I want to do disappear for six weeks next summer). It’s just not where I am.

      @Jordan: I considered ignoring the CW diaries, but that won’t help. I just need to suck it up and get over it. I’m waiting to hear how exhausted you guys are in a couple weeks. 🙂

      • June 26, 2009 5:01 pm

        I can see how a two-year old would be a distraction and admire you for trying to write while life goes on, especially with a kid.

        You want to improve, you want to go to Clarion, you (from the sounds of it on this blog and elsewhere) are fairly serious about being a writer and a good one, no? That means making some time to write, carving it out of everything else because if there is one truth in life, it’s that STUFF will keep coming up. There is no end to things that will eat your time. You say in this very post that you’re distracted, finding other things to fill your time. Why not write instead? I know you feel less than motivated right now, slumped even, but that happens with anything in life. Push through it. Think about Gary’s critique of Glow Baby (which I read and agree more with him than with Edith on that one). You’ve got talent, now spend the effort to elevate it, because sometimes it really is an effort.

        How many short stories have you written? How many required that you “drop” out of society? Writers write.

        (I’m sorry if I come off as too harsh here, it’s just that I’d hate to see you give in to the slump.)

  3. osomuerte permalink
    June 26, 2009 8:57 pm

    Too harsh? Never. (I’d be in trouble if I wanted to go to Clarion and THAT was too harsh.)

    I’ve decided that my slump with my Nepotism story (for lack of a better word) has run into a wall of its own, contributing to my slump. I’m going to read through “Leech Run” on Sunday and make some notes. That’s a task that will require a block of a couple hours and requires negotiation with the distractions in my life. I am setting a goal of a week from Sunday to have version 2 up on Baen’s Bar.

    As for “Glow Baby”, it seems to be a matter of taste whether readers are in Gary’s camp or Edith’s. I bet Edith is particularly fond of science faction, even hard SF. They tend to be the people that want to know why, how, where; they read for answers. I bet Gary tends a bit more (maybe not mostly, but more than Edith) toward softer sciences and even fantasy or horror; those readers often enjoy reading for questions. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I need to start sniffing out markets. I want to aim high and work my way down. I bet I could sell it to a zine at Sam’s Dot, but I’m looking for new frontiers. Anyway, we’ll see.

    Thanks for the pep talk. I feel the slump losing its grip. I’ll be back to it by Monday.

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