Misty is enjoying the sun-drenched beaches of Somewhere, USA, so I’m filling in for this week’s post.
Last week, we did a lot of posting leading up to ConCarolinas — things to do or say, things not to do or say, networking tips, etc. Here we are on the other end, and for me, that means new work. See in the last few years, my networking efforts and my published short stories have met each other with a pleasant-sounding smash. The result — more and more I’m being invited into anthologies and opportunities that before were off-limits to me. The last four cons I’ve attended have resulted in work and I couldn’t be happier about it.
The hard thing, though, the thing I want to discuss today, is how to deal with the work. I decided I should make a list of what writing work I’ve agreed to do, so I don’t accidentally let something slip by. Well, there are four short stories I need to write, an audio reading I need to record and edit, and an anthology I’ll be co-editing. Oh, and I still have to finish my WIP. Plus, there’s all the regular work like blogging, podcasting, and promoting Rum and Runestones. Plus, there are a few things that are in the works which I can’t officially mention. In other words, I’m at the bottom of a steep mountain, looking up and wondering just how far into the clouds the summit reaches.
For me, a pile of work is always a mountain. It looms over me, laughing at me with its sheer size, daring me to climb and promising me I will fail. In fact, the only way I can overcome the weight of all this is to remember the ancient idea concerning a thousand-mile journey and the single step one must take to get going. In a writer’s case, those steps are measured in words and sentences.
I’ve tried juggling writing projects, but it never clicks for me. I can’t focus on the short story on Monday, the novel on Tuesday, blog post on Wednesday, etc, etc. My brain wants to stay on one story, one set of characters, one set of problems. I have to trudge through each single step — no running around for me. So I prioritize based on deadlines and take each piece one at a time. Then, it’s the classic advice — BIC, Butt In Chair.
Because that’s the truth, down and dirty. We can post forever about technique, advice, helpful hints, and harsh realities. In the end, it’s all worthless if you don’t sit down and write something. Write a sentence. Let it lead you to a paragraph. From there you’ll get that page down. Then another. And another. Another. Soon you’ll finish a story or a chapter of a longer piece. Step by step until it’s done.
Then you can stop for a moment. Take a breath of fresh mountain air. Glance back at the place you started and note how small it looks from up here. Dare yourself to glance upward. Yeesh! There’s still half-a-mountain to go. Revisions. Queries. Submissions. That’s all to come. Contracts, publishing, networking, and promoting. And then cruel irony — they send you to the bottom of a new mountain and make you climb again.
So, that’s were I stand. The mountain awaits. Step by step. It’s the only way I’ve learned to get the work done. Luckily, I’m wearing my hiking boots.