My Winter Pep Talk

During the first week of October, a bunch of writers I didn’t know and I got together with a bunch of pro writers who thought we could amount to something in the publishing world of SF/F. These nice people gathered us all together and fired us all up. They gave us the ability to believe in ourselves and yawp barbarically. And we went home, and we were pretty fired up. And we thought our real estate had gone up.

Then, we settled back into our usual lives. We worked and wore ourselves out. We nursed sick children. We allowed ourselves to get distracted. Even though we had more faith in ourselves, and were more fired up about our writing, we discovered that the worlds we returned to were more or less the same as the ones we left. We had to keep working in them. I think most of us are still writing, and some of us have had some strong success. However, it’s hard to keep believing, because writers are crazy like that.

I don’t mean to be disparaging. I’m still writing, as are many of you, whether you went to the workshop or not. But it’s a hard old slog alone, isn’t it?

Some of you are blessed with other artists you stay in touch with, who fire you up about your work, and make you excited to do it. Others of you, like me, are kind of isolated out there doing your thing. It tends to cool your yawp down considerably.

I like having an audience. I like having critique. I also make the choice to write rather than do a face-to-face group, because my time is slim. I know that if I need help, I can contact any number of people for it.

What I miss is that fire in my belly. Being around others who are really fired up about their writing, and are good at it. Hanging out with writers of kind of the same level. Knowing that someone wants my work.

It must be similar for many writers out there. All the computing helps, but I guess what I need is revival.

I’ll see some of my writer friends in May at Wiscon, and others in July at Readercon. What do I do in the mean time?

How do you guys keep yourselves excited, rather than disparaged, as you work your way to super stardom? Because depression and discouragement both aren’t sexy.

Maybe we need to have some sort of midwinter writer get together? I’ll think on it.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

One thought on “My Winter Pep Talk”

  1. True dat!

    Well, I do belong to a group (which I’ve been absent from for most of this past year). There’s the interwebies. And then there are the moments of solitary reflection that I grip my heavy head in my hands and think, “Life was meant to be better than this.” While I don’t write for the money (okay, sometimes I do ad copy for the money), I edit to publish, and I publish for the money. The major milestones I’ve set for my career (like, “When I know I’ve made it”) include (modest) monetary goals.

    I know I’ve made it when I can afford a motorcycle (first major goal).

    I know I’ve become popular when I no longer worry about travel expenses.

    I know I’ve hit the big time when I can afford a house almost good enough to make it on the “What you get for the money” show on HGTV.

    It may be crass, but I can use stopping at the bike store on the way home as motivation. But yes, there’s nothing like getting together with a group of other writers to just write together to recharge the batteries. From what I can tell “Write-Ins” or “Write Nights” are becoming more fashionable. I’d really see if you can set something up (as they don’t need to be genre specific) like a “we’ll all meet at this coffee shop/library and write for four hours.”

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