So I’ve mentioned in the past on here how hard I’ve found it to put my work out there. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I started writing. I got better about it when I was doing short stories under a pen name (which lapsed when the others involved got too busy with their work/kids), but putting it out under my real name? Oh, that’s a whole different ballgame. But I’ve realized as time goes on, it’s too much work to keep a pen name. I’m not willing to devote that much time to social media, among other reasons. Putting my work out under my actual name makes me worry that readers will judge my ability to edit based on my own writing. Telling others what to improve on their writing doesn’t translate 100% to making my own stories perfect. I wish it did!
Putting my ego where my mouth is, I entered Revpit. I didn’t get chosen- I didn’t expect to, the MS I entered is too short for genre norms, and a lot of awesome books enter competitions like that. But I found a bunch of cool writers, befriended some, and had my instincts on that project confirmed. (I’m now working out the outline for the other half of the duology it was always meant to be so they can be released together quickly.) And it got me thinking about how I really want to chase being both an editor AND a writer. Balancing the two is an issue, but less so when I get steady editing work and don’t have 9+ hours a day taken up with the dayjob/commute.
Coincidentally, a #Pitchwars mentor was setting up a mentoring style MS swap within a private group, and fresh with confidence from putting my work out there once, I asked to join. I’ve already found so many in there I want to read, so this should be fun. One of my other groups was talking about how hard it is to find compatible crit partners, and I was thinking about that.
An old writing buddy of mine (literally, one of my first writing friends) and I were talking after a hiatus, and I really looked at where she’s at, career wise, vs where I’ve gotten so far. When we first met, I really looked up to her. But she always got caught up in drama and social media and a whirlwind of other problems seemed to never stop for her. She got caught up in it all, and her words always came last to everything else. We now run in completely different circles. Not better or worse, just different.
An old college friend was bemoaning the fact that her favorite author is her age, and it struck me as silly (Sorry Miche!) because it’s all about prioritizing. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. If you write, and help other writers, they’ll help you too. I have a whole list of people I’ve critiqued informally for, who I can ask for help when I’m ready. But that’s not why I helped. I helped because we’re friends, and that’s what friends do.
I’ve spent 15 years really, building connections in the writing community. Slowly, offering to help whenever I could, consistently. It’s paid off in friendships and opportunities alike, and it struck me that this is really what they mean by networking. People confuse networking with an immediate, what can you do for me attitude. That’s where it goes wrong. I’m not offering to help my friends because I want something from them. I’m offering to help because I want them to succeed, and I want to celebrate their success. If it comes back to me eventually, then great! That’s friendship. I’ve noticed so many people getting stuck on one project, one element, one contest and if they don’t get in, they’re shattered. Building community, writing friends, people who are more experienced and less experienced, that’s what these contests should be about. I never went into Pitchwars expecting my mentees to get a deal. I went into it wanting to help writers who were telling the sorts of stories I wanted to see more of in the world.
Speaking of putting words last, I’m going to go outline, write up a review for this Gamelit I’ve devoured, and see what I can get done on this short story idea I’ve been kicking around… Happy weekend!
(On a functional level-Expect more posts here soon, I’ve got a miniproject in the works as time allows, and I’d forgotten how nice putting life into the tidy box of blogging feels!)