September 29, 2021

Getting Real

I accomplish very little that isn't motivated by an item on my to-do list. Sometimes I accomplish very little, period, but the to-do list keeps that from being all the time. What motivates me more, though, is deadlines, but I've learned they need to be at least in some way real and external, not arbitrarily self-imposed.

I don't expect even the people who consistently read this blog to put much thought into when exactly I publish posts. But there's an easily detectable pattern in the posts that are about my own writing, not other people's books. In recent years, these writing updates always appear in the last two or three days of the month. That's because they grow out of a to-do list item optimistically called "mid-month update" that gets postponed day after day until the end of the month looms. And it's because the end of a calendar month provides a real and unalterable, if silly, deadline that's made visible in the number of posts per month on the Archive section low in the blog's sidebar. I know my readers don't look at or care about these numbers, but I do, and it's a real enough deadline that I usually can't stand to miss it.

Only just, though. I delay writing about my writing because I approach the prospect with such ambivalence. I keep this blog to provide myself with both a record and accountability, and to give the people who care some insight into what I'm up to. For all those reasons, I want to post updates on my writing life, but the reflection involved is intimidating. And that's not only true when I'm feeling bad about not having any writing to report on.

I have been doing some writing work lately! In admitting that, I've created more pressure to follow through, augh!

First, I used a really real external deadline to push myself through an intense round of final edits on the short story I'd been fiddling with for a year. On the last day of a submission window, I submitted my story to a magazine. It was rejected. I immediately submitted it somewhere else, like a legit short story writer. Rinse, repeat. Someday this could end in triumph.

Second, I am just starting to noodle around with a new story idea that I like a lot. I know that sounds great, but it's scary and intimidating and pressure-filled, too. It's going to be hard work to get from the page of scattered notes to anything even vaguely story-shaped, and I never feel like doing hard work. But here it is on my to-do list, so I guess I'm off to try and accomplish something.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ At The New Yorker, Daniel A. Gross covers The Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books: "I read more books in 2020 than I had in years. I was not the only one; last year, more than a hundred library systems checked out a million or more books each from OverDrive's catalogue, and the company reported a staggering four hundred and thirty million checkouts, up a third from the year before."


Christopher Gronlund said...

I'm glad you submitted something and then turned around and submitted it elsewhere when the first place passed on it. And, of course, I hope the next story comes to you a bit easier...and that fall brings good writing your way! :)

Lisa Eckstein said...

Thank you, Chris! Best writing wishes back atcha!

laurenhat said...

So much good stuff in this update! Yay for submitting things, and for resubmitting after rejection! That's inspiring to see. I know that's what one is supposed to do, but I kind of feel like I’d never want to submit anything for publishing (even if I had the patience to edit something enough to get it to a submittable form) because of not wanting to deal with rejection or with coming up with a Plan B (and C and D and so forth). But seeing good friends go through the cycle and try again makes it seem more weatherable, and it definitely makes me cheer from the sidelines.

Fingers crossed for an eventual good outcome with the story -- but I feel like submitting stuff is a notable achievement, regardless of whether The Claw of Popularity eventually alights on this story. (Hmm, I forget, have we talked about that metaphor before? There was a good post about the unpredictable nature of success in fanfic writing that also seems somewhat applicable more broadly — I think of pro publishing as also involving a mysterious Claw in between “good story” and “story that gets read by more than a handful of people” — though unfortunately it’s a Claw with a lower selection probability than in the world of self-published fan works.)

Also, big yay for having an exciting story idea!! (WHY can’t it just spill out onto the page without all the interim hard work, though? So unfair.) Regardless of where it all leads, I hope you can enjoy the feeling of excitement and possibility for a while, despite the accompanying sense of pressure.

And finally, yay for the regular(ish) blog updates. They’re always an interesting read. <3

Lisa Eckstein said...

Thanks for the yays, Lauren! :) I had never seen that about The Claw of Popularity, and it's so true and both comforting and disheartening. May the Claw alight upon us, and even grasp!

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