Who Needs Sleep? – An IWSG Post

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It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote a post for the IWSG…probably because it has been ages. In fact, it’s been so long that I had to re-add myself to their Linky list. (Not for the first time, likely not for the last time.)

I haven’t been writing a lot of any kind of posts – aside from my weekly update posts – on this blog for a while now, as a matter of fact. So when I happened to scroll past an IWSG post someone had shared on Twitter, I thought it was about time.

And “about time” is the conversation I’m bringing to the table today.

As a writer who is not, unfortunately, able to make a living from writing, where does one go about finding the time necessary to actually, you know…write?

One of my favorite quotes from Stephen King’s “On Writing” is (paraphrased), “if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write”. That really resonated with me, and I fully believe it. Reading is a necessary part of writing for numerous reasons, so you have to make time to do it, which is why it’s part of my 2019 goals, even if it’s time-consuming.

The problem is that there are lots of other time-consuming things in the life of a (mostly)unpaid writer as well. For myself, personally, I work full-time to pay the bills. I also have a husband and daughter who require and deserve my attention. There are things I have to do as a responsible adult and homeowner, like running errands and doing chores. There are exercises I’ve committed myself to in order to take care of my health. There are other tasks – such as my YouTube channel – which are important enough to me to demand a portion of my time and effort.

What it all comes down to in the end is, when do I find the time to write?

And the answer is, quite simply, that I don’t. Instead of sitting down at a desk every day for several hours and plucking keys or scrawling in journals, I snatch at tiny moments captured while doing everything else I have to do. I scribble in a notebook while on my breaks at work. I record ideas in my phone while playing games with my daughter. I pluck out blog posts one paragraph at a time while I’m doing laundry, cooking supper, and helping my husband edit videos.

This sort of thing, I think, is why a lot of writers drink.

That’s probably making light of the bad situations some people have found themselves in, but you know what I’m getting at. It’s so easy, with all the other things that one has to deal with in life, to find writing getting pushed aside, no matter how important it is to you to do it.

Yet we keep dealing with it, because we must. We must find the time. We must write, no matter what, even if it means losing sleep and expending non-existent energy.

We are writers, and we are stubborn AF.


So when do you write? Where do you find the time? How do you make your best use of that time? Please share, because I’d genuinely love to know.

NaNoWriMo Sparkless: An IWSG Post

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Here we are, right in the middle of the first week of October. This is one of my favorite times of the year for a lot of reasons. The temperature starts to dip back into that cozy one perfectly for snuggling in couch blankets. The air has that strange, lovely smell about it. Pumpkin spice and candy corn is everywhere. And, of course, there’s Halloween. I love Halloween.

But there’s something else about this time of year that gets my blood pressure working, even if it’s something that I do technically enjoy.

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.

I love NaNoWriMo, I really do. I’ve participated it in every year since I first discovered it back in 2009. But I haven’t actually “won” since 2013.

And that’s when things started to change a bit, I think. It’s not that “winning” is necessarily the most important thing about NaNo, but there’s no doubt that “losing” so many years in a row is a bit of a downer, and bit by bit other things started to change too.

When I first started NaNo, for example, there was a huge sense of community about it. I spent as much time chatting with people in the forums as I did actually writing. I participated in word sprints, did a tea exchange with a lovely lady I met in the All-Ages forum, and competed with the other Nova Scotia writers for the highest word counts per day. But slowly, surely, I started to drift away from all that. By the time NaNo came around in 2017 I felt completely alienated somehow. The forums began to feel like a solid wall of strangers whom I didn’t have the energy to converse with. Word sprints felt like organized chaos that I couldn’t fit into my life. The community in general seemed as though it had been driven away from me, even though the truth is that I drove myself away from it.

Now NaNo feels a lot different. I still look forward to it, because it still affords me that little push of motivation to write more than usual, ignore my inner editor, and just GET STUFF DONE. But the real excitement doesn’t seem to be there anymore. The fun doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

A lot has changed in my life since NaNoWriMo 2017, so it’s just possible that the spark my be reignited this year, but I’m not holding my breath. I suspect that something has been lost that will never be found again and that is, as you may expect, rather sad.

I’m still going to participate. I’m still going to do my best to “win”, even though it’s been years since I was able to find the time and effort to do so. And I’m going to really try to rejoin the community and see if I can’t relocate that spark. But I’m also going to do my best not to be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

Wish me luck. And if you’re participating, look me up, username: Toreshi. Maybe we can create a new spark together. 🙂

She Chose…Poorly – [An IWSG Post]

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It’s been a while since I wrote a post for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. So long, in fact, that my blog had actually been removed from the list and I had to reapply. I thought I would rectify this for September, since moaning to similar-minded people can be wonderfully cathartic and I could use that right about now.

For those who don’t know about The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, you can click on the badge above to go to the site. The short explanation is that it’s a group of neurotic people such as myself, and on the first Wednesday of each month everyone writes a blog post venting their fears and doubts, offering advice to others who are struggling, or basically whatever you’d like to write about that pertains to, well…writing.

You can write about whatever you’d like to in these posts, but every month there is a question posed on the website for those who might not have an idea about what they want to write. This month, for the first time, I’m going to focus on that question.


What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?


I personally chose to go the way of self-publishing for a few reasons, but the main one has to do with time, and the market.

My first ever completed novel is a zombie apocalypse story called Nowhere to Hide. It’s a bit different from your standard zombie-based story, and though I was confident in the book itself, I was not confident in traditional publishers to see its potential. By the time my manuscript was complete, zombies had been “in” for a long enough period that people were beginning to move on to different things. And we all know that traditional publishers’ moods wax and wane with the tide of public demand. You could have the world’s greatest masterpiece in your hands, but if it’s on a topic that isn’t the current “big thing” you’ll be lucky to get anyone to even read it, never mind consider publishing it.

That was my first concern. My second concern was how much time I would theoretically spend coming to this conclusion if I tried to publish traditionally. Each publisher I looked into quoted at least a 6-month turnaround period before receiving a response, one way or the other. That in itself isn’t the biggest deal, but then you have to consider that many publishers also have rules against submitting to their competitors simultaneously. Nearly every publisher I looked into had rules stating that if they discovered you’d submitted to another publisher at the same time as them it would result in an automatic rejection.

So, assuming each publisher takes an average of 6 months to respond, and sticks to these single-submission rules, that would mean that I could only submit to 2 publishers per year. Some of the world’s best authors submitted to dozens of publishers before getting something accepted.

Dozens.

After spending three years of my life writing, editing, and perfecting what I genuinely thought was a great little novel, I couldn’t stand the idea of spending years, perhaps even decades just trying to convince someone to print it for me. And with waning interest in zombie stories, the number of years required would likely just get worse and worse.

I wasn’t willing to put myself through that. One way or the other, I wanted to have a book published in my lifetime. Even if it turned out to be an utter failure, I just wanted it to be available. I wanted something that people could actually hold in their hands and read, something that I could slide on my bookshelf next to my King and Gaiman and Adams and Rowling. So I went the indie route. I fought with Scrivener until my file looked right, mocked up a cover in Photoshop (which would later be replaced by one I commissioned from an actual cover artist), and uploaded everything to CreateSpace.

By the time my second book came along – The Other World: Book One – it just seemed logical to go the same route. Nowhere to Hide had looked great, after all, so I used the same cover artist (10dollarcovers.com) and set to work uploading my second book.

Now I have two published books with beautiful glossy covers that can be purchased through Amazon or Kindle and look awesome sitting on my shelves with the books I’ve been reading throughout my life. It’s awesome. And yet…

Let no one ever say that there are no downsides to self-publishing. I love the convenience and speed of being able to simply upload my files, order a proof copy, and have my book available for purchase within a fortnight. In the case of ebook-only content, I can have a piece up and available in a night or two!

But the big downside, the thing that has haunted me the most about choosing to go the indie route, is the fact of how incredibly difficult it is to get people to actually read your book as a self-published author.

In the case of both of my books, they’ve been read by family members, a handful of friends, and a smaller handful of YouTube followers. Of those people who have read them, a very, very small percentage have bothered to rate and/or review, which is something that’s absolutely necessary to becoming noticed on Amazon.

Although you are always, in part, responsible for promoting your own work, having an actual publisher back you is a huge deal that self-published authors don’t get to enjoy. Traditional publishers take out ad space on the internet. They buy shelf space in brick-and-mortar stores. They help set up readings, signings, and release parties. They help convince people to actually buy your book.

This all important factor of getting people to actually buy your book is so goddamn difficult when you’re doing it all on your own. I can’t take out ad space because I don’t have the disposable income. I can’t secure shelf space in brick-and-mortar stores because brick-and-mortar stores don’t just hand out free shelf space to amateurs with no proof of success. Readings? Signings? Release parties? Um…who would come? My parents? My husband and daughter? Not exactly useful (or confidence building).

So, yeah, okay, part of me really wishes that I had, in fact, gone the traditional route. It would be really nice to have that backing, that support system, that, well…money. But then I look at the Submittable account on which I sent one of my manuscripts to a publisher just shy of 6 months ago and I think…is it worth it? Is it worth the time, the frustration, and the genuine agony of sitting here, waiting, never hearing anything?

I honestly don’t know. Is it better to have books that no one ever reads? Or to wait theoretical decades to get those books in the first place?

I just don’t know. What do you guys think?