On rejections, the Odyssey Workshop, and a firm ground to stand on.

In my previous post, I talked about overcoming my inner critic (it’s an ongoing process). Now, I’d like to talk about what gave voice to my critical self in the first place: rejections.

This is another very candid post. There are some things writers don’t talk much about. I wished this wasn’t so.

After much deliberation, I applied to this year’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. Surprise, surprise! I didn’t get in. It was my first try. But it seems that my hopeful self is as persistent as my inner chastiser. I kept the hope to the end, so the rejection email hit me hard.

Rejections. They corner the hopeful child within us and give them a good beating. Yet, something positive surfaced after the bruises faded. I realized it might have not been the best thing for me to get in the Odyssey yet. Perhaps, going to a workshop where the focus is on critiquing the author’s work as much as on learning the craft might not have been as beneficial for a writer like me, whose feet are not yet firmly planted on the ground.

I may just be rationalizing, and, yet, here is some truth here, too.

I realized that I needed to first learn to walk without the external crutch of validation before attending such an intense critiquing experience. I had to be honest with myself. Part of my motivation to apply was because I wanted that validation. And the reason why I wanted that was because, as a creative, I have not found solid ground.

This rejection was a big one. I so wanted to attend and so wanted to learn. But not getting in the workshop started an internal shift that allowed me to truly understand where I stand, or, perhaps, not yet stand as a writer.

I searched the Internet to see what some established writers say about dealing with rejections. Something Neil Gaiman said stayed with me. To paraphrase: when a writer gets a rejection, there are two things that can happen. They give up and stop writing; or they use the rejection as fuel to create a story, which is so good that it would be impossible for it to be passed over.

That truly stuck with me. The particular story I’m working on now might not be it (though I’m giving it my best shot), but, one day, one of them will. So, while I was waiting to hear back from the Odyssey Workshop, and my anxiety about my chances to get in peaked, I started creating new material. I wrote the first draft of a novella, the first draft of a flash fiction piece, and another blog post. I learned that creating something new is a balm to the trauma of rejection.

By keeping on writing or, in my case, dictating, I’m searching for the firm ground that is my own; from whence my voice wells up. I’m still on that search. But at least, now, I know what I’m looking for. And I’m already walking towards it.

I once heard Traci Skuce say that a rejection is not a “no,” or a “not you,” but rather a “not yet,” a “not now,” or a “not this one.” Crystal Hunt, co-founder of the Creative Academy for Writers (a wonderful online community) said something similar.

I’d rather find my personal solid ground and the place of creativity that makes first and foremost me happy before finding success. It’s not that I’ve lost my gumption. I still have ambition; I still want to “get there.” But I want to do it on my own terms, saying what I want to say, not what I think will please others.

This is the solid ground, where I can plant my feet to weather critique and rejection.

My cruel inner critic, the Odyssey Workshop, pantsing, and dictation.

I am going to be candid. In fact, I plan to keep my posts a little more honest from now on.

I find a lot of advice like “5 Ways To Deal With Writer’s Block” or “10 Ways To Move Past Rejections.” But what truly helped me is hearing or reading honest stories. I don’t claim I’m qualified to teach others how to deal with the darker side of writing. But at least, I can share my thoughts and experiences, and my personal strategy for overcoming these hurdles. In this post, I’ll talk about dealing with my cruel inner critic, and in the next, I will talk about my struggle with rejections.

Continue reading “My cruel inner critic, the Odyssey Workshop, pantsing, and dictation.”

More on Corona, writing, and anything else…

So, it’s autumn now and things are sort of going OK. Yes, SARS-CoV-2 is still around (I didn’t expect anything else) but at least the kindergarten is not closed yet. I am working and working and working, trying to finish the latest rewrite of my fantasy novel before the shit hits the fan for the second time this year.

Continue reading “More on Corona, writing, and anything else…”

Corona, writing, and everything else…

Oh, has it been a year since my last post? Yes, it has. Of course, it has. And this silence is, not surprisingly, SARS-CoV-2 related.

Things in my life were just starting to look better. I had a short story, “Bread and Iron,” published with Short Édition, my son finally adjusted to our new home, and my two girls were just starting in day care. I was looking forward to returning to a regular writing routine and a bit of time for myself after a year of being entirely focused on my twin daughters. I was tired. I was so tired. But I knew that now life would slowly return back to normal for me.

And then, the shit hit the fan.

Continue reading “Corona, writing, and everything else…”

My short story “Bread and Iron” has been published.

I wrote in my previous post that life got tough in the past few months. It hasn’t gotten easier. The girls are still a lot of work, my body still has its aches, I still wish I could write more. But there is a ray of light. My short story, “Bread and Iron,” just came out with Short Édition.

This publisher has a very cool concept. They have placed short story dispensers at numerous highly frequented public places like libraries or train stations (see a list here to check if there is one near you). You get a free story printed out at the touch of a button. But if you don’t have a dispenser near, Short Édition also publishes the stories online for free.

So, check out “Bread and Iron.” I wrote it with much love, and having it out there for others to read made a tough time in my life a little lighter.

On happiness, parenting, and ambition…and, of course, writing.

I’m six months into being a mother of three. My son is now four years old, and my twin baby girls are six months old. I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy. Not only because of the amount of work (diapers, soiled clothes, spoon feeding etc.), but because I find it difficult to put my life on hold for a year until the girls start in the nursery.

I have written posts on how becoming a parent finally made me realize the value of time and that it pays off to work 15 min a day. And I still stand by what I said in these posts. The trouble is that this time around, I don’t need to relearn these lessons. I still remember them. I have learned not to procrastinate, and I value my time. These days, I’m trying my best to squeeze in a bit of querying and editing (writing is a luxury) in the little time between the kids being finally asleep and my brain switching off.

Continue reading “On happiness, parenting, and ambition…and, of course, writing.”

Is it worth it to write only 15 minutes a day?

A while ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about time management. Like so many others, she too was struggling to carve out time for her creative work. She was wondering if she would make any progress with her novel if she only had 15 minutes a day to write.

This made me think back to the time when I had just had my son (now 4 years ago) and was afflicted by a sudden change in perspective on what it meant not to have time.

Continue reading “Is it worth it to write only 15 minutes a day?”

The sinuous nature of life (and our twins will soon arrive).

I’m sure that I’m not the first to observe that life is sinuous like the graceful wave of the sine function. There are phases when nothing happens, and then circumstances tilt to fill our lives with more than we can handle.

In the past weeks, our life as a family took quite the turns, and since I’m pregnant with twins and soon to give birth, I imagine that all that has been happening until now (not always joyous) was just a preamble. But I’m glad to say that I managed to go through another substantial revision of my book plus the necessary editorial nit-picking that must follow.

Continue reading “The sinuous nature of life (and our twins will soon arrive).”

Plotting vs pantsing: the eternal question.

I started on my fantasy trilogy as a complete pantser. I had no plan whatsoever. After an inspiring road trip in Ireland, I came back with a head full of something I could not quite articulate and just started writing. What this resulted in was a first draft that was plain scary. In fact, it took me a year to revise the first book in the trilogy because I had to rewrite half of it and fix extensively the other half. Thankfully, I was excited enough about my initial idea to have enough motivation to carry through this task.

The plot and structure of the book crystallized out over time, and, in the end, things ended up tidy enough. But, my, was it tough to get the project to that level. I know that there are vehement advocates of either pantsing or plotting, but I reached the conclusion that the truth, at least for me, lies midway.

Continue reading “Plotting vs pantsing: the eternal question.”

Owning the baggage that trips us: when they told me I shouldn’t write.

A few weeks ago, I met Garth Greenwell at a reading of his book, “What belongs to you.” I was completely taken aback by his eloquence and uplifting ideas. During the discussion, he said one thing (among many other wonderful things) that stayed with me (I’m paraphrasing): The wrong or hurtful things we hear and are taught as children will always stay with us; we can never grow up to be as if we had never heard these things; but what we can try is to turn them into something useful.

Continue reading “Owning the baggage that trips us: when they told me I shouldn’t write.”