Kat: The End Goal

Long Way Down

Ass In The Saddle!

Today’s post was supposed to be an exciting motivational rant on my personal tips and tricks that help me get to the keyboard when everything around me has gone to shit. Turns out my only trick is to keep chocolate in my desk drawer. Since I assume most of us do that (if you don’t, you should),  I decided to go with plan B which was to go to the “experts” (read: published authors) and find out what they do. Turns out the advice is either stuff I can’t relate to (My issues are different from say, Justine’s) or are things we already know (Make a plan! Set a schedule to avoid temptation! Elicit support from your family and friends, walla, walla, ding, dong). Good advice, but let’s stop kidding ourselves. Creating a schedule or calling our writing buddies to talk us down from the self-doubt ledge doesn’t keep us writing when our lives go off the rails. To keep at it, day after day, to believe in ourselves and our writing in the face of (fill in the blank) it takes more than snappy advice. A helluva lot more. My journey, like every writer’s journey, is unique. I didn’t start writing at sixteen or twenty-five or even forty. I began seriously writing relatively late in my life. I have a full-time job that pays pretty well which means I haven’t endured the physical struggles of the starving writer. I don’t live in a one room shack or burn my manuscripts to stay warm (first of all I only have one…). And unlike some of the ladies here, I don’t have young children or a husband to consider. What I do have, what I struggled with daily is (pick one) a) rampant self-doubt, b) writer’s block, or c) the frustration of juggling the life I have while trying to build the life I want. There’s a lot I don’t know about writing, but I do know that in order to continue writing when your life is going to hell in a hand basket, there’s one thing that is absolutely required. No, it won’t guarantee that you will get published if you have this, but it’s a good bet that you won’t get published if you don’t. So what is this magic thing and how can you get you some? Spend ten minutes and go to this guest post on Chuck Wendig’s terribleminds by Kameron Hurley.

18 thoughts on “Kat: The End Goal

  1. Lots of honesty there, which is what kept me reading. Sturgeon’s law says 90 percent of any genre is crap. I think it might be true, too, that a good percentage of any endeavor is slogging through crap — but that small percentage of it that is mindblowing is worth the wait and the effort.

    • My take is that we have to keep slogging. I loved Kay’s post yesterday which was a different slant on the same principle. Keep going even when you don’t want to, even when you hate it and it’s hard. And really, isn’t that the key to most things in life? Slog through the crap, and keep slogging and you’ll (hopefully) come out into the light.

      • Oh, sure, but I don’t believe in slogging for the sake of slogging. (-: I like slogging for the sake of reward. No, I take that back. I still don’t like slogging. But I’ll do it.

        Kameron Hurley doesn’t talk about the joys — not what she’s going for in this piece. Maybe she takes the joys for granted — many other writers talk about them, and maybe she doesn’t want to sentimentalize them. I think any writer can identify with the hardships she talks about, and you are right — I know I need a reminder sometimes that hard times are to be expected. I know that I can sometimes have a tendency to romanticize the slogging. I think that’s where I get bogged down. “It’s supposed to be hard; just keep pushing through.” But maybe that’s my cop-out for not following what the girls are trying to tell me? Or is that a cop-out for not doing the hard work?

        Oh, around and around I go with this issue in my head. It’s supposed to be hard, but it’s supposed to be fun, and I have yet to get the balance right. I’m always off on one end or the other.

        • Thanks for pointing this out. I think without the other side represented (the joys) her post could be looked as sad (as several other posters pointed out). What I took away was that we all have challenges, and persisting…keeping at it despite the doubts and the financial woes and the publishing despair (or whatever) is what it takes to succeed (and obviously from her story — it worked).

  2. I know it’s serious, too, but I also loved the part about the only tip to staying at the keyboard when everything else has gone south is keeping chocolate in the desk drawer. So TRUE. What keeps us at the damn keyboard? Just plain will. And, of course, chocolate. Keep on slogging! We’re with you, toting that barge, lifting that bale.

    • I shouldn’t tell you this, but M&M’s is the only thing that got me through statistics class in college.

      There’s definitely something to be said for chocolate as a motivator.

  3. I think I must be weird – for me, the keyboard IS the chocolate. I’m privileged to have the time to write, and that means it’s all joy, even the hard bits and the sloggy times and the scream with frustration days when nothing works (no shortage of those). And that’s a good thing, because the odds are long and who knows if I’ll find an agent or a publisher or people to read my stories? I’m glad to be here, and I’m staying 🙂

  4. The other day, I was talking with my husband in the morning as we were getting ready for our day. With the kids’ fall break the week before and all half-days this past week, I’m woefully behind in finishing this book, which I have to complete for a multitude of reasons, the least of which is the Golden Heart contest and the fact that I’ve been writing (and rewriting, and rewriting) it for two plus years. I was telling him that I’d need him to pick up some slack with the kids this weekend because I’m behind and he wasn’t incredibly receptive to that suggestion, because he’s mired in his own work drama.

    Then I started to cry.

    It’s the first time writing has made me cry.

    I turned to my husband and said, “I don’t think I will finish this book in time [for the Golden Heart submission deadline].”

    At that point, I could have done several things:
    1) Said, “Fuck it,” and spent the day watching DIY shows on HGTV.
    2) Started something new, leaving 3P unfinished.
    3) Keep slogging away.

    I chose 3. I’m still slogging away. I will do my best to finish by January 12th. I just have to be persistent. [Oh, and my husband said he’d take the kids on Sunday. Such a sweetheart!]

    • Justine, I hope you finish the book to your satisfaction in time to enter the Golden Heart, and if you don’t, you’ll have TWO books next year to enter, and two books to send to agents and editors. It’s great to have goals, but not if they drive you crazy. Your writing can’t benefit from that.

    • Justine, I really hope you’re ready in time for the Golden Heart. I know how you feel – I want to enter, too, and I’m shocked by how long it is taking me to get this book done, and even more horrified by how fast the deadline is approaching. That said, I think it’s only a good goal if it encourages you to keep pushing, not if it becomes a stick to beat yourself with. I believe you’ll make it, but if the deadline comes around and you’re not happy with the book, keep working and make a new plan for it – submitting and contests and pitching it at local conferences and working on the next book. It’s a process 🙂

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