Leveling Up

I’ve been dying to write this post all week, but life has gotten in the way again. #PitchWars was crazy, it was fun, and it’s still going strong. While I didn’t get chosen as a mentee, I learned so many wonderful things and accomplished some personal goals I’d set for myself, and let’s not forget all the amazing people: mentors, mentees, and #PW16RevClub’ers. So, first thing first, yes?

I. Personal Goals: Something every writer should have, and every person. Set goals you can accomplish, and those that are a little out of reach – something to strive for. My goal during all the madness came in two parts: a) get 1 request, and b) get a solid feel for where I’m at as a writer. The latter was causing a bit of internal frustration, as no matter how I tried to level up my writing, something was missing. I knew what, but I had no idea how to fix it. I’m very happy to report that 2/2 goals have been accomplished, and I’m in a much happier place as I continue on my journey.

II. Community: Everyone talked about it, and by nature I tend to be reserved, so I was not one of the people always dropping gifs. Though I was usually covering my mouth to keep from spitting up on my keyboard. These writers are crazy (in a good way), they love what they do, and you can see & feel the true kindness as they reach out to one another and connect in a thousand different ways. I feel honored to be a part of this community. Plus, the knowledge you learn just by listening (watching the feed) is something you can’t find anywhere else. There were so many articles and blogs it was hard to keep up, and yet each one resonated with me in a different way and helped me to view my work with a new perspective.

III. Tribes: Okay, I’ll admit, this word never really resonated with me when I first heard it. But somewhere along the way, a deeper understanding kicked in. All the amazing authors on the feed, those I’ve interacted with, only seen names, or bonded with – in the next ten years, these names are going to be on bookshelves across the country. I’ve read dozens of queries, first chapters, and even got to read a few fulls, and the stories are amazing. If I’m lucky, my name will be right alongside them. It isn’t just a group of writers, these are peers that are far beyond the quitting phase. Determined, bright, creative, and hilarious – my to be read list is going to be so long.

IV. Surprises: Along the way, I stumbled upon quite a few surprises. My favorite by far was getting asked to join a critique group. This group of people write exactly what I do – gritty, fun, explodie science fiction and fantasy. For adults. And guess what? They don’t hold back. They know the genre, and they have their fingers on the pulse of what should & shouldn’t be happening in my stories. I already love them to death, and I can tell you right now, they are kicking my ass and making me dig deep and level up my stories. I can’t wait to see the end product.

V. More Critique Partners: I went into PitchWars with 3. I now have 9. Four write in my genre, the others don’t, but ALL of them have spectacular insight, and they are damn good writers. Two in particular have been with me for a year now, and I’ve had the honor of watching their work grow stronger. Late nights, head banging (on the desk) and panic attacks have been part of it all. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

So where am I now? I’ll be honest, the last few days leading up to the announcements had me unsettled. I had two great stories to work on, but I didn’t know which I’d be digging into. I’d charted, drafted some more, had all my edit notes ready for both, and nothing to do.

I needed help, and a distraction. So I dragged out several old stories I’d written years ago to keep myself busy. The first I got sucked into, and nearly chucked my kindle when I realized I hadn’t finished writing it. Okay, the writing was terrible, but I remembered how much I loved these two characters. I moved onto the next story (a Nanowrimo gem, so the writing was even worse). Same thing – I fell in love with the story and characters all over again.

When the announcements went up, I felt relieved. I would have been relieved or excited either way, because the SFF adult mentors are awesome. But my relief came from knowing which MS to dive into and start getting dirty. I was ready, just waiting for the gunshot.

I’m now working on 3 MSs (don’t judge) and snuggling my emotion thesaurus. I’ve got some stuff to work on, and I have a target path. This author’s gonna take a little time, dig a little deeper, get some crafting time in, and start throwing hammers at my work.

I love my stories. Even if they aren’t perfect now, someday–when I’ve gone off the deep end with old age and can’t remember my name–I hope to have a shelf lined with my favorites.

Cheers to all who made it in, all who jumped on the revision bandwagon, those who are taking the time for a little health and wellness, and all the mentors who have dedicated their time. In ten years I’m going to be prowling a bookstore and I hope to see all your names there.

As for me – I know where I am, and it’s time to level up. Someone cue the Nintendo music please. 🙂

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