A Total Eclipse of the Heart

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Sorry this is so late.  It’s not that we went to the doctor: that wasn’t such a big deal.  It’s that we went to the doctor and then got high-jacked by the demon of small details: oh, yeah, I need some kind of exercise clothes since current set (36lbs down) is falling off me, and would be shocking to wear in public; oh, we need to return redbox and grab another one; did you know we’re out of yogurt?; I probably should stop by craft store and buy the craft caddy thing I’ve been putting off.

That’s not what I want to talk about today.  It’s also not this, though I love this, and if I started a blog today it would probably be called Glee Club of the Damned. Because, well, that’s kind of the way my mind works.  (Favorite lines? Oh, heck.  But I’ll go with “I hated that book” mostly because I did.)

If’n you have time go and take a gander, because there will be a test later it actually ties up with the post. Later.

You guys know now and then, for reasons, I have almost shuttered this blog.  Usually the reasons go something like this: I don’t have time; PJMedia pays per post while what I make for this blog is very little; I don’t want to wake up every morning with this obligation hanging on me.

But I don’t shutter my blog, because you guys are friends and because, to be blunt, this is the only publicity I get, pretty much.

This time it was different. Let’s say there are secondary stresses on this, which I don’t intend to throw here, but let’s say younger son is trying to start a typesetting business for money while the university plays class scheduling games… (yes, if you want his email, ping me on fb or email me.)  And there’s… other stuff.

So I woke up on Wednesday feeling like everything I’ve ever written is nothing much, and I can either start my career anew, right now, or I can retire.  And retirement looked good.

On top of which someone went out of their way to make me feel non-valued as a professional.  Which was the cherry on the cake that made it all blow up.

I started questioning what I’m even trying to do writing, and considered giving ALL OF IT up including the blog, and going off to do something less stressful and more productive like being Walmart door greeter.

Questions like “Why do you write?” And “What do you want to accomplish?” became very… squirmy and uncomfortable.

I have talked to friends (some of whom are mental health professionals) and done a lot of thinking about where I am and where I want to be.

And I think the problem is somewhere along the line, in my course through traditional publishing I let them get in my head and determine what I can even dream.  I trained myself to write what I THINK is “publishable” — which means, trad pub publishable — And I lost ME.

Oh, I’m not dropping planned projects, but I need to spend some time figuring out what happened to that little girl who wanted to be a writer, and the truly strange (or not so strange, but not “acceptable” stories she wanted to write) and find out what happened to the zest and the joy of writing.

Some of it will spill here, and it also means the writing schedule will get reorganized.  Heck, you guys have been waiting so long six months more ain’t much.

The some that will spill here might be snippets and starts, and just questions.

Back to that music video, and the “literal lyrics” that make fun of it.  The whole video is surreal, and we can pick it apart all we want, but when it came out it was innovative and it spoke to us.

And the literal lyrics are very silly, but I’m glad someone did it, because it’s amazing.

So, I’m going to try to learn to be more like my writing friend who just writes what in his head, and cares not the least what people will think.

There will be slips, falls, and steps back.  But… but maybe somewhere along the line I’ll reconnect with that girl curled up in the big armchair with a book dreaming of the things she would write.  Or with her more sophisticated teen self, creating entire worlds.  Or even with the young mother who put herself to sleep by telling herself stories she couldn’t sell.

And maybe I’ll find my joy and creativity again.

Somewhere in the distance there’s a light glimmering.  I’ll walk the labyrinth to find it.

201 responses to “A Total Eclipse of the Heart

  1. , I need some kind of exercise clothes since current set (36lbs down)

    YAY!!!

    • That’s the best reason ever for clothes shopping. Yay!

      • Oh, yay! My daughter dropped going on 70 pounds now, and is absolutely over the moon that she can fit into nice clothes again – including some that she loved yet she … umm … looked like twenty pounds stuffed into a ten-pound sack. (Nothing special – just a ten mile run three times a week, three hours weekly at the gym and cutting out the candy and sweets.)
        Me, I think I have dropped at least a dozen pounds, doing the same, less the ten mile runs. Knees aren’t up to it.)

        I’ve sometimes felt that I’ve hit a wall with the writing, also. I look back on some of the previous books – one of which I knocked off in a bare two months, although I had been skulling out the plot for years – but somehow, I keep thinking that the sparkle in the blog-posts doesn’t come as easily as it used to do.
        I’m hoping to rekindle the fire in an orgy of research; reading original memoirs of women who were campaigners for abolition in the 1850s, and were nurses during the ACW. My refuge and inspiration, I guess. There is stuff that I read, that I make a mental note of – Ohhh, I have to put that in The Book! –
        I think I will get the mojo back. I’ve been reading a couple of bios of Mary Bickerdyke, a woman volunteer who ran hospitals in the western theater. A telegram from her to an influential friend who was the pastor of a big congregation in New York gained five train-carloads of food supplies in a single day. William T. Sherman basically had her back – and he was not a pushover, by any means.
        Hang in there, writer-friend.

    • I will second or third or whatever we’re to that yay.

    • It can make Christmas much easier for us husbands, too! I don’t know about Dan – but I’m just handing the spouse a wad of cash this year and sending her off with the daughters – nearly fifty pounds for her. (One reason to have at least one daughter if at all possible – once they’re grown, it gets YOU out of the trip.)

      • Warning: this does not apply for all daughters. For most of her life the only place The Daughter really liked to shop was places that carried printed material, especially books. (Toy stores were, therefore, ultimately a bore.) Now she has added craft stores and a strange bent towards dollar stores. But clothing stores? No, not really interested, thank you.

        • I finally liked clothing stores when Ihad my own money/bought my stuff.
          Only thing I liked shopping for with mom was… shoes.

        • I loathe clothing stores with a passion, because nothing fits. I really resent having to pay shipping to *find out* if something fits, because stores don’t believe that women exist above a certain height.

          • There was for a very short period of time a clothing store in the city of Graham, N.C. run by a very statuesque former beauty queen who specialized in clothes cut for tall women. At this store a women who was 5’10” was considered on the short side…

          • It doesn’t help that women’s clothing is incomprehensibly sized. A man’s shirt or pants employ objective measurements — 16″ neck, 35″ sleeve, 38″ waist, 32″ inseam — while women’s clothes are not only arbitrarily assigned “sizes” but they vary from one manufacturer to another. Thus one brand’s Size 6 is another brand’s Size 8 and a third brand’s Size 4. Don’t even get into the distinctions between “women’s” and “misses” and “petites” and other genres. They even adjust these over time, as what was a Size 6 in 1970 and what is a Size 6 from the same maker now are completely different sizes.

            It is no wonder that T-shirt manufacturers have given it up altogether and just size their wares S, M, L, XL, XLL, XLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

            • Juniors is scaled with teenaged proportions and has odd numbers. Misses is scaled to post-puberty proportions and has even numbers. So far, so good. Petites is post-puberty proportions but scaled to 5’4″ and shorter. Women’s is where the system gets weird, because that’s the XXL and up sizes. And then Tall just doesn’t exist in most stores, and I say that advisedly. I honestly just put up with bad fit until I was in my late 30s and could finally afford to get things shipped, and suddenly didn’t feel like an overgrown pillock.

              • Yes. Over all, only 5’4″. But my legs & torso are “short”, but my hips aren’t; made worse by being overweight, but still …

            • A man’s shirt or pants employ objective measurements — 16″ neck, 35″ sleeve, 38″ waist, 32″ inseam — while women’s clothes are not only arbitrarily assigned “sizes” but they vary from one manufacturer to another.

              And year to year, too; Faded Glory relaxed fit petite jeans had a three to five year gap where they didn’t fit at all, and then went back to fitting again.

              I was still wearing the jeans I’d bought and loved enough to keep trying when they started fitting again.

        • *grin* Hubby did the same for me over the last few years. “Please, go shopping for new cloths, that is my Christmas gift.” Well really it should have been “Christmas Wish.” I went shopping, just didn’t get (many) cloths …

          My spending now? Well he plays golf, so pup & I should be able to do stuff … like training*. After the first of the year going to sign us up for non-competition agility. We’ll see if she likes it.

          *She’s my service dog, so she gets a lot of training time … we don’t do dog parks. Backyard is big enough for play.

        • Heaven: unlimited funds in an infinite bookstore, with all the time in the universe to read them.

      • My daughter loathes doing just about anything with her mother, including shopping of any kind.

        Fortunately she and I can go to bookstores, record shops, music stores, art supply places perfectly fine together. Pretty much the same places I end up with my sons.

        • Perhaps I should have said mature daughters. Not that that means they will be fashionistas – or care to shop with particular people, or for particular things. But they are at least able to distinguish between “appropriate” and “inappropriate,” and that they are not the same thing for all people.

          My two as teenagers… The one was headed full bore Goth until I stopped it cold at “dog collar.” The other, I swear, was going to run off to a (traditional) nunnery any day.

          Sigh. The joys of fathering those two have given me a firm understanding of why my ancestors believed so fervently in the faerie folk stealing children and leaving their own get in their place.

  2. More on point, I really like the idea of you posting snippets here, although that does have the risk of over-polishing stuff before you even have it written!

  3. ” everything I’ve ever written is nothing much”

    ((Glares at Sarah))

    We’ll have none of that kind of talk, young lady! Your work is excellent, and your blog has been a damned lifesaving voice of sanity over the years.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I very much concur.

    • Meh. Everything pretty much anyone has ever written is nothing much. Maybe those five-volume series Moses wrote is an exception. Then there’s all that fanfic written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John …

    • Absolutely first rate (RAH would call it a good few years) – and, OH MY GOD, the sanity saving. Or at least that I am not a unique variety of nutcase, anyway…

      • Geez, tell your perfectionist self to stuff it. You have more novels out than Jesus, unless you count His collaborative work with all writers. Obviously you walk on water less, though, so it evens out.

        And obviously the Third Person of the Trinity is the original Ghostwriter.

        • I walk on water this time of the year most years. Nothing special about it.

          • Disgruntled coworker – “Everyone in Minnesota thinks they walk on water.”
            FAA Check-airman – “They do between October and April. Even if they’re ELCA.” [He was Missouri Synod, if memory serves]

            (Lutherans can be just as sub-divided as the Reformed [Reformed, American Reformed, Dutch Reformed, Protestant Reformed, Netherlands Reformed, Christian Reformed. All in the same town.])

    • I agree — I have learned so much from this blog (both the posts you write, with your unique voice and point of view, and the responses from other people), that just the blog alone is invaluable to me. I’ve enjoyed those of your stories that I’ve read, and even though — for instance — the furniture refinishing stories might not be ‘deep’ or whatever term the literati would use, I really hope to see more of them when you have time to work on them. I like those. I like the shifter stories with Tom the dragon. I like the Darkship Thieves world. They aren’t ‘nothing!’ And neither are you!

      Besides, while a vacation might be a good thing (a non-writing vacation, just take some time to rest and relax and explore), you have a writer’s brain — you wouldn’t be able to retire! A story would pop into your head, and you’d be back at the computer, kitties and all!

    • What they said. You’re a welcome voice of sanity. After reading news, I turn here to remind myself there are sane people and there is hope.

  4. Congrats on the weight loss!

    I’m amazingly blessed (almost said lucky) that I never tried to go through the traditional publishing system. [waits for mutters of “Get off my lawn” to fade]. I’d never have gotten published, and what I did write would still be really unhealthy-for-me revenge fantasies. But a friend encouraged me to write more, and I found your place, Kris Rusch, and TPV in 2011. First run at a book was November 2012. And I can still write what I want, when I want, and toss it to the sharks, er, readers to see what floats.

    OTOH, my academic writing… Nothing beats a bad, detailed anonymous reviewer for “ruin your self-worth” events. When you reach the point that you have anxiety attacks at the prospect of opening both the manuscript and e-mails from a possibly publisher, something’s gone wrong. I still have not updated or re-revised that book.

    • That last paragraph is why I can’t live with trad anymore. Because the autoimmune will kill me, just with the stress.

      • You and me both, Alma. And most especially, my darling man – if he’d tried to go trad pub, nobody but Baen would have touched his stuff (and until the Sad Puppies blew that can of worms open, we might not even have known why), and his goal of supporting us by writing for a living would have died in silence and ashes of rejection letters.

        Instead, Sarah & MGC were part of what helped us to go indie, and from thence has come a partnership with more ups than downs, and… I think Peter’s at 14 books, now? It’s not a life on easy street and we still need my income, but it’s certainly helped!

      • I’m so glad now that I never did anything more than a routine basic flirt with trad publishing. Old Bookman (one of my early publishing influencers) advised giving the trad route a decent year … and then going indy if I got no joy out of it. I am immensely glad that I came into it all through blogging. I already had a built-in base of people who loved my writing and I knew that I could ask for money for it. (Classic advice from Sharon McComb in one of her books, “It’s like hooking. Better be sure you’re pretty good at it, before you start asking for money.”) I funded my first two books through an appeal to the blog-fans; asking for their support in going POD, so I was pretty sure I was good at it.

    • Are your anonymous reviewers actually anonymous? Back in the 20th century, where I edited scientific journals for a large corporate publisher, one of the things we used to do was delete the lines in the acknowledgments where the authors thanked the anonymous reviewers BY NAME. . . .

      • Mine were truly anonymous. I only learned one of the reviewers of my published non-fiction book when he mentioned it two years ago. The book was published five years ago.

        I have no clue who reviewed the Book-I-Have-Not-Touched.

    • I did some traditional publishing of short stories. Queried a few agents for my first novel.

      Now, all indie.

  5. Exhaustion and the black dog nip at one’s arse at the same time. It wears one down, patient predators that they are. Truly though, I appreciate your posting. It takes me away from the hospital, even if it just in my mind.

  6. I think of you as a Ray of Hope.
    Compared to MSM you are.

  7. Whatever help you need from us, you’ll get. Just let us know.

  8. Go for it! If this isn’t fun for you, if you aren’t writing your books of the heart, then yeah, there are other less stressful ways to make money, if money is what you need.

  9. You should be proud of your writing. I’ve enjoyed each of the works I’ve read, across genres and time. I think of myself as a Mil guy, but I like the shifters stuff the best. THEN YOUR mIL SF, 3 Musketeers, British Empire (including the romances), and the short stuff I’ve read. If you stop I’ll Be disappointed and I suspect you would be too.

  10. Good luck with your new journey. Your writing should be joyous fun, not a trudge through the brambles.

  11. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I think we all knew you were burning candles at both ends, that it wasn’t sustainable, and you would need time and space to recover.

    I am glad you are on the mend.

  12. Good luck!

  13. I think the problem is somewhere along the line, in my course through traditional publishing I let them get in my head and determine what I can even dream. I trained myself to write what I THINK is “publishable” — which means, trad pub publishable — And I lost ME.

    The definition has certainly changed since you first attempted to enter the field. Back then it was “What publishers want” whereas now it is “What folk who buy books want.”

    If publishers frickin’ knew what book buyers wanted they’d still be in business, wouldn’t they?

  14. I read your short story “Lost” and the language was so beautiful that it gave me that “I could never do this, who am I fooling” feeling. 😉

    (The baby sister to a much older and very beloved brother came shining through, too.)

    • I’ve read your stuff. You can do this.

      • Oh, I know. I mean, I think I’m getting a feel for what I need to fix and feel confident that I can learn those things that I need to learn. It’s the *feeling*. Right? Maybe similar to your feeling that everything you’ve written is nothing much?

        But I’m not putting you on, either. I really did have that feeling reading that story.

  15. Yeah, if you wanted to write about stuff somebody else created, that job is called “technical writer”. I know some good ones. I think the Huns include some as well. But that’s a different job.

    You author folks get to write about what you create.

    Good on ya for putting in the work now to make your indie stuff more yours. Brava!

    Also:

    Somewhere in the distance there’s a light glimmering. I’ll walk the labyrinth to find it.

    Just watch out for that angel dude.

    Unless it’s your husband, then the feeling up with feathers is OK. As long as you’re into that sort of thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  16. Take really good care of yourself!

  17. If it helps at all I bought and read ‘Uncharted’ over the weekend and really enjoyed it. I couldn’t help but look up little bits of the Lewis and Clark’s history to see how the actual journey was mixed in with the the fantasy version. (Would have gotten around to it sooner, but have been trying not to spend money).

    I’m also really looking forward to Guardians release next year.

    That’s also not counting all the other works you’ve written that I’ve enjoyed enough that I’ve read multiple times 🙂 Heck, I enjoyed your work enough I decided read your blog and lurked for a LONG time before ever posting anything.

    I think it’s healthy to actually sit down at least once a year and take some time to evaluate how things are going and figure out what you want to do.

    I learned this year that I really need to ask myself while I’m going after a goal, whether that goal is still something I want, and if it isn’t then to stop. I think I have some goals I set for myself just because they keep me busy and are fairly large time-sinks that mean I can coast in other areas that I should probably be spending much more energy on, but are less pleasant or interesting. Sometimes you just have to embrace your own dysfunction and roll with it!

    Whatever you decide, I think it’s safe to say that you have a bunch of people that are wishing you both success and happiness. Provide names and addresses and there are probably enough delinquents around here for a non-stop barrage of flaming bags of poo to end up on critics doorsteps. 🙂 (Any chance we can get reimbursed for mileage and hazardous duty-pay?)

  18. So, I’m going to try to learn to be more like my writing friend who just writes what in his head, and cares not the least what people will think.

    Maybe it is something in the air. I have a blog post for tomorrow (as I am trying to get on a schedule) on the fact that I’ve gotten more done on a novel this NaNoWriMo than I have in prior ones or just trying to write (including the one that I got enough momentum to think, “Hey, maybe I should actually try writing seriously not that indie exists” because understanding the popularity contest of trad was why I gave up back in the 80s).

    I realized part of why I am successful this time around is I just sat down on 11/1 had been “bullied” into doing NaNo by an acquaintance from my former writing group (actually three of them) just rubbing two random thoughts together until they set a third one on fire.

    It’s probably crap, but somehow this not planning or being invested or given a damn lets me just write this silly story. In the moments I’m in it all I think about is it is a fun story and I’m having fun spinning it.

    All the rest can come later.

  19. If we can’t walk with you, we’ll wait for you.

  20. So, I’m going to try to learn to be more like my writing friend who just writes what in his head, and cares not the least what people will think.

    The better you write out the stories in your head, the more likely you are to receive criticism, much of it vicious. We are all of us familiar with the proclivity of [certain factions within society] to denounce books solely on what they imagine the author has said, utterly without troubling to read the works denounced. To bend a phrase, if you aren’t getting flak you aren’t over the target. The key is to be criticized by the correct people.

    As with Trump, there is much about him for which I do not care, but he has the right enemies.

  21. It took me seventeen years to complete one novel, nine months to get a second one out. I want to tell stories, not send a message. Sending a message comes with telling a whopping good story. If you create a story with characters that people want to know more about, that your readers consider their friends who happen to live on the pages of a book, you are ‘doing good’. Don’t stop. I say again, don’t stop. There are a lot of us out here wanting more from you.
    Take care and take heart.

    JD Bell

    • “It took me seventeen years to complete one novel”

      Oh good. That makes me feel better, since that’s about how long my first one took. (Mind you, I came up with the idea in middle school, so a large part of that was getting to the point where I could write something decent, but still.) Also reassuring that the second one didn’t take that long. Now if I could only have the brain capacity to start it…

      • About the same time for me, with A Diabolical Bargain. Then, what i was really learning was “how to master the novel structure” my metier being short.

        It snuck up on me by pretending to be a novelette and then a novella. By the time I gave it its head I had left out so much to try to keep it short that I doubled it in revision just putting that in.

        Fortunately, with indie, there’s not the Unpublishable Void between the length at which magazines stop taking your work and that where novels (especially publishable ones) begin.

      • yeah, first novel took me from 14 to 22. Much of it was world building.

  22. Christopher M Chupik

    This place has been a lifesaver the last few years. Thank you for everything, Sarah.

  23. I just missed getting hooked into the traditional publishing machine. It was so close I heard the bullet buzz bye.
    If I had I suspect I’d be depressed and discouraged like you are now.
    But you are free to go Indie and the rewards don’t come next year you can have a chunk of money the end of the same quarter in which you publish.
    You have ALL the tools.

    • TRUSTING that is the problem, Mackey. Think of it as “abused wife syndrome.” I know it, but it’s hard to get the brain to get it.

      • scott2harrison

        Some years ago, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller serialized a novel that they were writing. They would put each chapter up as they received a certain amount of donations. Their only problem was that they received enough to put the entire book up in about three weeks and it wasn’t all written yet. If you are having problems trusting try that for one book, then copies of the final product (electronic) to everyone who contributed over the indi price of the book when it is finished.

    • That is exactly why I’ll never give GRRM another red cent.

      • At least in the “prequel” you know the city gets destroyed and all but three or four die. So you don’t waste time getting attached to anyone.

    • Yeah, but if you did the same thing to a stack of Honor Harrington novels, would the body count be any less?

      • Try it with a stack of John Ringo books and you wouldn’t even be able to close them.

        • Except I’ve never seen Ringo kill off a MC in a flippant uncaring way. Granted, I haven’t read a whole lot of Ringo, but what I have read leads me to believe that he has more respect for his characters and readers than that.

          I got a rather embarrassing number of books into GoT before I realized “OMG, nobody ever wins. Everybody dies.This is an endless line of character archs that get cut off half way through.”

          • Acknowledged – Ringo gives even minor characters a heart-felt death.

            I found that any ten pages of Saga of Ice and Fire was enjoyable reading but the accumulation becomes ever more depressing. It isn’t helped by his succumbing to Philip Jose Farmer Syndrome and wholly losing the thread of the novel so that it doesn’t end but merely concludes.

      • Body count: possibly. As a percentage of the characters: not even close.

  24. You are doing great work, both here and at PJMedia (where your posts are IMO head & shoulders above the typical run of what get posted there)

  25. Take a break, let your brain down and rinse it. Maybe let us crank out a few blog posts to get our hand in. Write some for PJMedia.

    Then come back with a fresh spirit.

    I can relate, I’m in a bit of the same pickle at work. Flight test is a feast-or-famine business, and I’m in a famine period. It grinds on the soul.

  26. So I woke up on Wednesday feeling like everything I’ve ever written is nothing much, and I can either start my career anew, right now, or I can retire. And retirement looked good.

    Back on the 10th I was taken to Half Priced Books for my birthday. This is the prize of the trip:

    I think it’s a big deal. So does some Jerry guy quoted on the cover.

    Retirement is not an option.

  27. Got lost down here while noting that you MUST put a warning on that video link – if I had come over here at my normal morning time, you would owe me a keyboard and maybe other electronics.

    Back to reading things in the proper order.

  28. I enjoy your books. Your writing here, on MGC, and PJ Media, helped me years ago, realize what I was seeing in the publishing industry was just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure people aren’t happy with you telling the truth about the industry, rather than the fantasy.

    It amazes me how many people buy into the myth that publishing isn’t a *business*. Heck, three decades ago, I realized the bestseller lists were a racket, but no one would believe me…not even the other booksellers, who helped strip the dozen upon dozens of ‘bestsellers’ used for massive display purposes only.

    The sad thing is there are things the publishers *can* do very well. But like local newspapers, they ignore their strengths, in favor of throwing money at what used to work. ::sigh::

  29. Sarah: I owe you a thank you for saving me from tradpub. That was always the way to be a writer, see? And so I needed to do that. Or something.
    And you ‘talked’ me out of that mindset on your blog and FB postings. Thank you for that. I find the stress of writing another novel, marketing the ones I have out there, contracting for cover art, contracting for audio book reader, etcetcetc. stressful enough, thank you, without having to write what someone else wants so I can get their head-pats.
    Now stop crying in your coffee and go write something just because. Not for trad pub, not for indie. Just because that’s what you do.
    Because if you don’t, the muse-harpies will make you miserable, and you know it.

  30. OK, that video was funny. I’ve never heard of literal videos and hope they have lots more.

    I also hope that YOU includes Darkship Thieves, which, in a perfect world, would also have a script and a big box office. Just seems like it would make a good movie.

    • That video reminded me of sooooooo many songs I find creepy. There are generas of them. Like the ‘I’m going to follow you wherever you go’ songs. Stalker much? Sting wrote one MEANING it to be about a stalker, and was more than a little unnerved at how so many people thought Every Breath You Take was a charming love song, but the reason they think that is that there are so many others (Def Leppard’s Two Steps Behind You springs to mind) that are intended that way. Then there’s the female version, like Heart’s Will You Be There In The Morning…which ought to send any rational man running. Or the ‘now that I’ve bedded you, I must be moving on, because it’s my Destiny to be a rotten prick’ songs like Freebird.

      • At some point I need to put together a list called Stalker Songs. Because you’re right, it’s a thing.

        • Yes, indeed.

          ‘Stalker Songs’
          ‘Why You Don’t Stick It In The Crazy Songs’
          ‘I’m A Self Centered Prick And I’m Leaving Songs’

          anyone else?

          • “Have sex with me because that’s its own reward and that is by damn all you’re getting from it” songs.

            Surprisingly more common than you’d think. (My mom made the mistake of teaching me to listen to the stories in country music songs at a very young age, and then I started listening to the songs…ruined WAAAAAY more than you’d expect.)

            • The Daughter was raised on a healthy dose of traditional folk songs by her own choice. While others listened to Hanson she had a real liking of Steeleye Span whose version of The Black Freighter lead her to the discovery of Kurt Weill. She had a picture of the world far different than that of her contemporaries who grew up on Barbie dreams.

              • Remember: you’re sure to get your change.

              • Apparently the English of olde did have their own Social Justice Warriors, as noted by Steeleye Span, presented here by Heather Alexander:


                Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys
                Bedlam boys are bonnie
                For they all go bare and they live by the air
                And they want no drink nor money

          • In Love With a Hooker songs

  31. You inspire me. I’m changing careers at 57. I am giving up the safety of a tenured academic position for writing full time. I have never written anything but academic articles, but what the hell. I have two series planned out, 80% of my first ever book written. It’s totally ridiculous to do this, but I am having so much fun. And, I owe it all to you. Thank you and please make sure to evict the naysayers from your head. If I can do it, anybody can (I’m the absolute queen of “what the hell? What am I thinking??).

    • ^^^^
      This…I have a longer plan, but without Sarah (and the rest of MGC, but Sarah is how I got there) I wouldn’t have a plan to “retire early” at 59 1/2 to a life as a full time writer.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Creative writing is going to be a hobby. But I think I’m making a career change. And this place helped preserve, not my sanity, the functionality of my madness enough to do it.

  32. * Looks around, sees no Sarah about.

    Oh, it’s one of those metaphor things, isn’t it?

  33. Congratulations on the weight loss.

    Wish I could keep mine off. I just regained 25 hard lost pounds … again … my fault. Know what I need to do, just got to put the pieces together …

    I tried to talk to my niece about going indie & staying away from traditional publishing, but an agent is gushing over her stuff & mom (my sister) is/was insisting on giving the agent “a chance”. OTOH niece is naturally writing what I am gathering traditional publishing is pushing.

    Latest piece, that I’ve read, (written before the last two shootings) were from a hostage’s view, & how one of the hostage takers pushed the other, the only shooter, into the invasion/hostage taking, but framed the blame on the hostage from out of context conversations. Scary stuff, pulls reader in, going “OMG, OMG”. Niece thinks it is inappropriate to be submitted anywhere … she’s wrong, it needs to be read.

    I used to write, a lot, had notebooks of writing. They all got tossed years (decades) ago thanks to criticism I’ve never got over. At this point not willing to work that hard; would rather read.

    Sarah please don’t give up. I’d miss your blogs & books.

    • It doesn’t matter what you write. Some nonzero percentage of people – some of whom won’t even have *read* it – will spend ridiculous amounts of time excoriating it. “Every word was bad, including ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the'” reviews.

      When you’ve put effort into something and get kicked in the face it hurts. But… it’s not *personal.* These are the same lamers who would kick a puppy because they figured it wouldn’t bite back or cut people off in traffic for no reason at all.

      You just have to harden up and keep going.

      Some other nonzero portion are going to love everything you write, and let you know in gushing detail. Those are more dangerous than the haters. Listen to too many of those, and no matter what you’re writing, you’re going to wind up writing vampire porn to please them.

      You can’t just blindly accept praise.

      And finally… everything you write doesn’t have to be a life-changing short story or Great Novel. As various Famous Authors have pointed out, you’re cranking out words for a living. Did your customer feel she got $2.99 worth of entertainment out of your story? Excellent! Now move on and finish another.

      It’s a job. Just like bricklaying or lawn care. You’re self-employed, you can work or quit whenever you want… but if you want to make money at it, you have to do whatever it takes to get paid, not just concentrate on “great works.” Which some portion of people are going to hate anyway…

      • Technically it’s a job. But you depend on the cooperation of your subconscious and mine not only shuts down hard but at times sabotages me.

        • I like stuff you write… and I know a bunch of people who also seem to like the stuff you write (well, “know” them as in here in the comments section)

          I know what a bugger that subconscious voice can be. I grew up being told how dumb and worthless I was, and having that lesson literally beaten into me. All you can do is weigh that voice against the evidence. Lucky for you, the evidence is right here in the blog comments. You think these people come here because they DON’T like what you write?

          I’ve seen the blogs of crappy authors. Very few comments, and in the few comments that are there, there isn’t the feeling of friendship like here. No shared memes (like carp flinging etc.) No feeling of “hey, I’d like to actually meet some of these people” (and I’m a horrible introvert, I hate meeting new people! New people freak me out!)

          Just sayin… Hope it helps. 🙂

      • Four words, to type into your search engine whenever you feel that spectre f failure looming over your manuscript:

        classic novels bad reviews

        Sample results:

        Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
        “The trouble with Mr. Clemens is that he has no reliable sense of propriety…the advertising samples of this book…are enough to tell any reader how offensive the whole thing must be. They are no better than the dime novels which flood the blood-and-thunder reading population.”
        NY Times

        Brave New World
        The book “fails both as a satire and romance because it is controlled by no inward conviction.”
        The Guardian

        The House at Pooh Corner
        “And…that marks the first place in ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ at which Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.”
        New Yorker critic Dorothy Parker

        Catch-22
        “It doesn’t even seem to be written. Instead, it gives the impression of having been shouted on to paper.”
        The New Yorker

        Moby-Dick
        “This sea novel is a singular medley of naval observation, magazine article writing, satiric reflection upon the conventionalisms of civilized life and rhapsody run mad… …it repels the reader…”
        The Spectator

        To Kill A Mockingbird
        “Miss Lee’s problem has been to tell the story she wants to tell and yet to stay within the consciousness of a child, and she hasn’t consistently solved it.”
        The Saturday Review

        The Handmaid’s Tale
        While some critics praised Atwood’s thrilling writing style, others called the book “short on characterization,” “thinly textured,” and “paranoid poppycock.”

        [criticising the lack of a futuristic language akin to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange] “The writing of The Handmaid’s Tale is undistinguished… This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.”
        Mary McCarthy, writing in The New York Times

        Okay, sometimes the critics are right.

        • I rarely read beyond the blurbs of books. Exceptions of whether there might be blatant porn. Will skim the reviews, someone usually mentions it.

          Bookbud has been great. Has allowed me to find new authors that range, usually:
          1) “not bad, not sorry spent (upwards to $1.99) for first in series, but, won’t continue on.” (lets call this “meh”)
          2) “Like Author, will buy whenever discounted.”
          3) “OMG, fun read, will buy all in series available now, & keep buying as they come out, will try other reads by author**.”
          4) Blogs. Hmmm. Must read books by this Author (cough, cough) … FYI, not only Sarah’s books, but more than a few that have mentioned they’ve written & published.

          **Note, rare is the Author that I will READ every book/series that comes out, or will buy as soon as it is out (wait until price drops – sorry I read too much to pay full price for everything.) I also only buy on Barnes & Noble (at least while it is still an option.) Occasionally Baen …

  34. “Somewhere in the distance there’s a light glimmering. I’ll walk the labyrinth to find it.”

    scribbles notes — includes notes to make it different from my other labyrinth stories

  35. This is so exciting! I do believe I hear a breakout building. Oh, the privilege of watching it happen, woo-hoo! I can hardly wait. Sniff! Makes me proud.

  36. May you find your joy and your true voice.

    One of my favorite authors spent that latter part of his life writing Great American Novels. He even won a Pulitzer for one of them (THE TRAVELS OF JAIMIE MCPHEETERS). Which was a pity, because I could tell where he was doing pastiche of Mark Twain, Phil Stong, and Thorton Wilder. And he had a voice of his own. It came out in the best of his early novels – PROFESSOR FODORSKI – and in his nonfiction work, which included the hilarious biography of Carry Nation (yes, she spelled it that way) VESSEL OF WRATH.

    Robert Louis Taylor

    *sigh*

    I wish he’d written more along the lines of FODORSKI, and not pissed his time away on amusing but second rate Great Novels.

  37. I’m just going to add to the “we love you” pile.

    Reading Larry Correia (MHI, Grimnoir) re-lit the “I wanna write” dream, but it didn’t get me anywhere. I still had that “I’m going to suck at this and fail” thing in the back of my mind that kept me from really trying.

    Then I got pointed over here, and by extension MGC, and the talk about writing and words, and talk about Indie publishing, not only made me realize that YES, I CAN do this. It changed the way I thought about writing. I always thought about writing as a talent that you either have, or don’t (and that thing always told me I didn’t… not enough anyway) But hanging around here (and MGC) made me realize that it’s a SKILL, and as with any skill, If I keep at it. Eventually I’ll get better.

    So, I used to write. Then re-read it later and it was TERRIBLE. I SUCK AT THIS! and I would quit because I would never write anything publishable. Only to come back later and do it all over again, because dreams.

    NOW, I write, come back later, and it’s STILL TERRIBLE… BUT it’s better than that thing I wrote 6 mo ago. I have a day job and don’t NEED my writing to make money (for now). So I can see the improvement, and it’s awesome! (not the writing… geesh, that still stinks, but seeing the improvement is awesome!) And I can write some more! And I can start another raw, unedited, series on my blog that is a story about magical kittens. My Tween-aged daughter loves it so far, and it helps to have people WANT to read what you write.

    (BTW… Have I squeeeeed enough about how much I’m waiting for MHI Guardian to come out?)

    Gosh… this is getting too long. Just wanted to say “Thanks Sarah”. If it wasn’t for you and this blog, I’d still probably be wishing I could write, rather than actually writing.

    • Have you started revising the stuff after you come back to ti?

      • Not yet. I’m finally getting to the point where i think the stuff I write might be worth the effort. I am keeping some of my older stuff because I like the characters, but I’ll have to scrap most of the story and rewrite with an eye towards actually having things like world building and plot lines etc. Characters, even fun ones, just running around in circles gets old quickly.

    • After I’d written several novels, over thirty short stories, and a second academic monograph, I went back to re-read my dissertation before doing major revisions. And all I could think of was “Sweet jeebus, how could the committee pass this cr@p? It’s horrible. How bad were the other dissertations that I got best dissertation of the year?”

      Amazing what happens as you read more and write more. No, the dissertation was not that bad. But I write so much better than I did then.

      • My plan is to keep on keeping on writing. I’ve been doing “free writing” in my blog on a SF story line, and I’ve added a fantasy story line that will hopefully get moving soon. Basically just writing whenever I have time.

        The idea of putting it out there on my blog is intended to help me get past the voices in my head that tell me nothing will ever be good enough and nobody will ever want to read what I write. So far with mixed success… but I’ve got the bit in my teeth and I’ve determined not to quit.

  38. And who knows how many people have been helped just by reading, “…in the end we win” and kept putting one foot in front of the other one more day. That might not make you “daughter of consolation” (to turn a phrase), but it’ll do.

  39. And that video is a trip.

  40. I do understand the desire to just drop it all. When you blog, you generally don’t get much cash (if any). That means, your blog has to survive on internal motivation.
    For me, it’s easy – if I didn’t blog, I’d explode from all of the unsaid things that those around me don’t really want to hear.
    Hey, they’re mostly Progressives – nice people, but, close-minded as all get-out.
    What posts I write since I took up writing short stories/books are generally more spread out – it’s the advantage of a group blog. Your fellows pick up the slack for you.
    But, from what I’ve been reading here lately – they are ALSO stressed, stretched, and on the verge of tossing in the towel.
    Can I make a suggestion? Put out a call for some newbies to fill in. Select a few that can infuse this blog with some Young Blood (vampire reference intended).
    You may fade away to take up your writing career. You may try to stay away for a while, but sneak back in.
    You may find that a fresh point of view revitalizes the blog.

  41. The good collection is Patrologia Latina in about 130 volumes, the collected fanfic of hundreds of writers from about 100 AD to the 500s or so.
    John in Indy

    • Most of that is sermons and doctrinal teaching. Some is poetry and science and philosophy. Some of it is pretty straight up history by contemporaries. But sure, some of it is Edifying Fiction of various genres.

  42. richardmcenroe

    “Nothing much…” Sarah, I listened to that voice for too many years. Slap it around, kick it out onto the lawn, and throw its clothes out after it.

  43. richardmcenroe

    And don’t sweat the labyrinth. Just write in a Marine character, point, and tell “Beer!” Not only will you not have a labyrinthproblem, you’ll have a lifetime supply of minotaur jerky.

    • That’s funny! Of course what I do is grab youngest daughter, point in relevant direction and shout, BRUNSWICK STEW! And a portal is formed forthwith. 🙂 The Stew is what I use to get them motivated to visit and help out about the joint. 😉

  44. What everybody else said. Got me in the feels.

  45. Sarah, please, please for the love of God and all that is good don’t give up. Your stories, and your blogs, are what keeps some of us sane enough to interact with society without having the people offering the jackets with the wraparound arms come running.

  46. To Our Esteemed Hostess:

    I am not so selfish as to demand you continue writing for my sake. I would greatly prefer it if you did find it within yourself to continue to write. I cannot imagine you happy contorting yourself just to be published, the cost is too dear. But with indie that is no longer necessary, and I cannot imagine you happy without writing. So, what I do ask is that you put off any final decision until you have had a chance to recover from your recent exhaustion.

  47. Thanks for deciding not to quit, at least at the moment. I’m trying to start and I learn from you.

  48. Um. Who was it- I’ll kick ‘em in the shins with my metal toed boots. You take care of yourself, but don’t listen to the lying bA$7a<d$!
    Thanks for all you have shared. Seriously tho I’m pretty good at kicking the rats in the shins.

  49. Along the same lines, I haven’t commented here as often of late because life has changed for me. New job, new location, etc.

    But, the reason I mention that is because this site can so easily suck up a HUGE chunk of time – for a good reason. Sarah’s posts are insightful enough to read ALL the way through, and the comments just have to ALL be read when I come here.

    This place really is a great place to be, because of Sarah, the co-bloggers, and the commenters. There’s wit, brains, good writing, and lots of camaraderie.

    Thank you, Sarah, for all you do. (I try to say thanks on the book front by actually buying and recommending them.)