Self-indulgent angst/Is it writer’s block?

Well, actually, I don’t think it’s technically writer’s block because I’m still cranking out words. But I’m terribly dissatisfied with most of the words that’re coming out. Plus I think my muse is stuck in fairy tale land. I appear to have fixated on the children’s fairy tale/folktale shtick. And, while I really do love those, I’m kind of feeling like I ought to be working on other stuff and those other words just aren’t coming.

Part of my dissatisfaction is the dearth of top tier children’s markets. I’ve whined about this before, but with adult-audience stories, there’s so many top markets that as soon as I finish a story–from zero draft to final–there’s someplace I can send it. But I’ve been cranking out one 2000-word fairy tale every one to two weeks, and no first ranked children’s market has that fast a turnover rate. And there’s lots fewer of them in any case. Guess there are worse things in the world than having more stories written than markets for them, but I don’t feel like I’m being productive if what I write isn’t circulating in the marketplace, trying to find a home. Contributing to the backlog makes me twitchy and twitches make my muse skittish.

I’m also good and blocked on two longer works: my novel and my cyberpunk novella. Not to mention a handful of short stories I started that then petered out. Some of those I may pick up again, but a couple I can’t stand to look at.

I dunno, maybe I should just count my blessings and write another half a dozen children’s fairy tales. Maybe I don’t have the focus right now to produce longer, more insightful works and should be happy that I’m completing anything.

I’m also feeling the recent round of rejections more keenly than I usually do. Most of the time I can just shrug and toss the declined manuscript to the next market, but this is one of the longer stretches, numerically, that I’ve gone without an acceptance since I started selling. It’s not the longest, and it’s certainly not the longest if I calculate it by length of time (there was nearly a year between my first sale and my second). But for some reason, it’s weighing more heavily on my anxiety meter.

I suspect my head’s just not in a good place right now. The meds are certainly throwing me for a loop. I’m undoubtedly stressing over nothing and should just write–markets, rejections, and subject matter be damned. But that still doesn’t alleviate the stressing.

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14 Responses to Self-indulgent angst/Is it writer’s block?

  1. oracne says:

    That is stressful; but you’re also UNDER lot of stress right now. I think writing anything is probably better for you than writing nothing, unless you tell yourself you’re going on vacation for a week.

    Maybe a deliberate writing vacation would help?

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Thanks. I have toyed with the idea of taking a bit of a holiday from writing, but the thing is I just had one. During the Spring Break week when we had company, I didn’t do any writing at all. I’m worried that if I extend that out to another week, it might turn into two weeks, and then a month, and then total and absolute blockage.

      Heh. Another thing to stress over.

  2. mouseferatu says:

    “Well, actually, I don’t think it’s technically writer’s block because I’m still cranking out words. But I’m terribly dissatisfied with most of the words that’re coming out.”

    I totally, completely, absolutely, utterly, and (*checks thesaurus*) thoroughly understand.

    I’m about 12.5K into my latest Vampire project, and only the fact that George swears that it’s good has kept me from chucking the whole thing and starting over. (Well, that and the fact that I’m too damn lazy to rewrite 12.5K, and the fact that I don’t know how I’d do it differently.) It happens to me on a regular basis. I write something, and everyone who reads it tells me it’s good, and easily up to par with my usual stuff. But for some reason, when I look at it, all I see is something so crappy I feel it ought to be written on toilet paper.

    So, for what it’s worth, it’s not just you.

    Don’t let the writer’s doldrums or the rejections get to you, though. It’s all temporary. 🙂

    • amokk says:

      I do that with almost everything I write. Sometimes I stare at people who say “this is good” and wonder what damaged part of their brain they read it with.

      Most artists don’t like their own work, however. Part and parcel of the curse. 😉

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Thanks, Mousie-fangs. It’s all about perspective, I guess. It is reassuring to know other writers go through what I’m going through. But I’d still be happier if it was in the past tense rather than the present. Sigh.

      Congrats on your current Vamp project, btw. 12.5K words is a resounding accomplishment!

  3. Write a whole book of fairytales! Hee hee, that’s my plan with my poetry, which is probably nowhere near good enough to publish anyway.

    But yeah. Keep writing, whatever you do. Even if you think what you’re writing is light and substance-free; maybe you need that now, when your body is going crazy.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      I do actually aspire to publish an anthology of fairy tales. It depends on if my current and future projects pan out with anything like the sort of success my early ones have. If I can find good homes for even half of the fairy tales I’ve cranked out recently, I may approach some publishers to see if they’re interested in buying a compilation.

      Well, it’s a dream.

  4. britzkrieg says:

    Sometimes a change of scenery helps… though I realize your weekend contained a few new experiences. Go for a hike somewhere unfamiliar, once it stops raining. If it never stops raining, consider doing something physically strenuous anyway — like building an ark — if you can. Come over to my house and experience the surreal weirdness. You’ll have your inspiration back in no time.

    I don’t get many “good” story ideas at all. Most of them come to me in dreams. Usually it’s laziness or depression that keeps me from writing them down much more quickly than I do. I’m envious that you at least have ideas coming, even though they’re not really the ones you’d like to have right now.

    Good luck, and don’t fret. This too shall pass.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Thanks! I’m greatly looking forward to our get-together tomorrow. Something to take my mind off my current doldrums seems like just what the doctor–if I had a doctor for my muse–would prescribe.

  5. kafkonia says:

    Have you tried subbing the difficult-to-market tales to adult markets, rather than children’s ones? I mean, F&SF is worth a shot, at least, given their response times.

    Writing stuff that feels like crap can almost be worse than not writing, because it can make you doubt your skills. Remember what The Sphinx said: “When you doubt your poweres, you give power to your doubts” or words to that effect. We all go through spots like that, some of us worse than others (Kafka had it pretty much his whole life), so remember that You Are Not Alone, et cetera and so forth.

    You may want to check out some of Lawrence Block’s writings about writings, because he occasionally has stuff to say about that (I can’t remember if Telling Lies for Fun & Profit or Spider, Spin Me A Web is better in that respect.) Plus, they’re just good books to read.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Have you tried subbing the difficult-to-market tales to adult markets, rather than children’s ones?

      Yeah, I have and do. I sold “Second Daughter” to Leading Edge after Cricket passed on it, but I want to give my top tier (the Carus group) first stab at all of my juvie lit. Plus, when I write for a younger audience, I’m always worried that it’ll be very obvious what my intended target audience is, so am leery about approaching older audience markets. But, as I found with Leading Edge, what I consider young person fiction may have appeal to an older age range, so maybe I should be more free and easy with my children’s fiction submissions.

      Except I still want to submit to the Carus Group first because no adult spec. fic. market pays as well and has as large a circulation as them.

      Grumph. My head’s spinning again.

      • kafkonia says:

        I understand the $$/circulation issue, but as for the target audience showing… well, don’t go doing the editor’s job for him/her. 🙂 A rejection from a market has the same effect (non-sale) as never submitting to it in the first place.

        But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

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