Once Upon a Time … wait, what was I going to say?

on September 12, 2013

I had a great idea for this blog, then promptly forgot it.

It’s like that tickle in the back of your brain, that you know you know something, but you can’t remember what it is. Like a person’s name. Or an appointment you remembered that you forgot, but you can’t remember any details.

So I started a different blog. I was going to write about mean reviewers, the kind who anonymously post bad reviews that are full of snark and personal slights instead of insight into why they didn’t like the book. But then I thought, why give those vipers any more attention?

Then I was going to write about writing. Really original with THAT idea. Writers write. Duh.

My iMac is in the Apple Hospital. I thought I’d have it today, but no. I was going to blog about my love affair with all things Macintosh, but decided against that. (But I miss my computer so much! I have a MacBook Pro laptop that I use when traveling, which is now on my desk in place of my iMac, but it’s just not the same.)

THEN I thought about social media. I have a lot of ideas and not enough time to do them. For example, I have a website for my new series character, Max Revere. My plan was to have her blog about crime issues, particularly unsolved crimes. REAL unsolved crimes, because I’m a bit of a crime nut and follow a bunch of crime news, so I thought this would be relatively easy. Except … everything takes time, and I don’t have an extra thirty minutes to blog for a fictional character.

But I’m still thinking about doing it. Because I see the potential. She even has her own Twitter feed that I haven’t updated since February :/

I also have had an idea for more than two years. Maybe three. Toni would probably remember because I talked to her about it way back when. I wanted to have a Vlog. You know, a video blog. I would interview debut authors or vlog about my research trips or television or about writing … except not only does it take TIME to put one of these things together, but I would have to shower and dress in the morning … er, I would have to learn new skills with video editing and whatnot. When on earth do I have time for that? I don’t want to half-ass something and post it just because–I want to do it right. Or maybe I should do a podcast? On what? Why would anyone listen?

Which brings me to the fourth (fifth?) idea I had for a blog: writing about my daughter Kelly’s blog, Without Ink.

Kelly’s AP Literature teacher is requiring his students to maintain a weekly blog, following a journey where they teach themselves something new. Kelly’s an artist who has shied away from digital art, so decided to do her blog about teaching herself digital art. She’s also a very talented writer, and if you’ve struggled with perfectionism—in writing or anything else–you should check this out. The whole article is worth reading, but this paragraph struck me as particularly insightful:

When I went to art school last summer, I had to let go of my tight grip on perfection. Producing several crappy paintings and drawings all day every day, I didn’t have time to agonize over how awful everything was. I had to make mistakes, leave them, and keep going. Because of this, I realized the truth in practice over product. I gained a ridiculous amount of insight from just playing around with stuff I didn’t expect to go anywhere and experimenting with mediums I wasn’t comfortable with. I had to open my mind to failure, let things go unfinished, spend hours on something only to wipe it away and move onto the next project. It was an invaluable experience. Without it, I doubt I would’ve gotten very far as an artist.

Writers struggle with this every day, just like artists. But I’m the exact opposite of my daughter. For me, in the beginning, I wrote without fear. I wrote as practice. I had hundreds of beginnings and no endings, but I didn’t care if I made mistakes, or wrote a sloppy first draft, or even if I wrote an entire book that I then shelved. Every day I wrote was a day I learned. I practiced. I didn’t think about the end result as much as the journey. I wrote without seeing the flaws. If I didn’t like one story, I moved to another.

Now, I see my flaws as they happen. I see plot holes before I write them. I know immediately what isn’t working. When in the past I could just ignore these problems and move on, now I can’t. I have to solve the problem or I’m completely stuck. Before I could write three, four, seven thousand words in a day. Now I’m lucky to get 2,000 down. On a really good day I can net 3,000 words.

There’s no “best” process. It still takes me as long to write a book (well, maybe longer …) I still like and need revisions, and the day I don’t get a revision letter is the day I have a heart-to-heart with my editor, or leave. I already did that once.

I don’t know exactly which book I changed my process … it was a gradual shift that I only recently identified. But when I’m stuck, I stop. I have to fix the plot problem before I can push on. It’s like a mental block, that even though I know my first draft will not be perfect, I still can’t write unless I know something is going to work.

I think I need to take a page from Kelly’s blog and stop seeking perfection. It’s driving me batty.

Which brings me back around to social media. I had planned to start a street team (readers who love my books and help spread the word) but again, I wanted to do it “right” and as such, haven’t implemented it. So between Max’s blog, a street team, a vlog, a podcast … I haven’t ended up doing anything other than the tried and true Facebook and Twitter and this blog.

But thinking about it all is enough to make my head spin. Why can’t writing be enough?

So I have three questions as I start to make some decisions:

Would you be part of an author’s street team? Are you now? What do you like/don’t like about it?

Would you read a character blog like I described? Meaning, Max Revere, an investigative crime reporter, will blog about real-life crimes and investigations.

Would you be interested in a monthly vlog or podcast by an author? By me? Do you watch/listen to any now and if so, who?

The answers may or may not impact my decision, because ultimately, it all comes down to TIME. Something I need more of!