I have 37 minutes to write a post before my day is over here. I spent this morning getting the first 100 pages of Abigail Rath into good shape, kicking out the too early information reveals, and now I must wade through the rest and do the same, with notable expansions and excitement bumps. Then, dear beta readers, it comes to you.

I am determined to be done by the end of December. I want this shippable by the Christmas season. I don’t think I shall have to rush or send out crap to do it.


Well. World Con was a slap, a glass of cold water in the face. I had a *great* time, but here are a few things:

1. Brad Aiken is a medical doctor. He puts out a book a year.
2. Jim Hines is a government computer guy. Since I’ve known of and known him (2005), he’s written 5 books.
3. Jay Lake has put out 2 books since I’ve known of him. He has cancer treatments intervening.
4. Seanan McGuire works, and she is a publishing machine.

You know, I *am* busy. I *do* have other things eating my time. So do these guys, in spades. This *isn’t* an exercise in comparing myself to them. This is me asking myself why I can’t do that.

Because I have before. I wrote my thesis as I began working at the college full time. I have undertaken huge projects and been a student at the same time.

This isn’t a paid advertisement for wearing yourself out, or working yourself dogged, but there have been times when I have been as efficient as the above four people. Why not now?

Upon reflection, a couple of things have been holding me back: skills and imposter syndrome. Specifically:

1. I am a pantser. I betcha I would write a lot more efficiently if I planned better and stopped writing myself into a corner. Thanks to Walter Jon Williams, I might have this one actually licked.

2. I STILL let other people’s agendas subsume my own. Hunh. I guess it takes time as well as inclination to write. I don’t want to hermit up, but I need to guard my writing time as sacred.

3. I worry about crap. I should just keep my head down and write my twelve hours a week and move forward.

And here are some things I learned at Worldcon.

1. I should stop wallowing in my inadequacies. I should do what I need to, each day, and not focus on what I haven’t done, or where I think I should be. That kind of mentality gets in the way of your writing.

2. There are people out there waiting for my stuff. In addition to interested readers, editors, agents, and professionals. They seem to think I am a writer and take me seriously in a way I myself do not.

3. Deep down, I still think I am a wannabe, and that’s really, really slowing me up. I am good enough, and I’ve taken a whole lot of steps in the last three years to get better. Goddamn imposter syndrome! I am not only a serious student of writing, but I am good at applying what I know. So, what’s with the image problem?

Everyone else believes I am a writer. They ask me for stuff, and they are willing to take a bet on me. I know that. I need to take myself that seriously.

This summer has been a time of rebuilding my writing, and a celebration of my life. What a great way to spend my summer! But this past year, overall, has been me sputtering at my writing, spending time in education and on the page, but not feeling like I have a lot of direction or umph.

I guess that’s umph, then.

We can only control so much. We can write the books and release them into the wild, and they will sell or not, be in box stores or not, win awards or not. It’s easy to feel at sea, isn’t it?

Well. The other thing I can control? How I perceive myself in this whole game. I am a writer. Not a writer who wants to be published, but a writer who will practice my craft until that inevitably happens.

Even now, I feel foolish saying that. True Midwesterner, me. But you know what? I am a writer. Not a writer who wants to be published, but a writer who will practice my craft until that inevitably happens.

I hereby vow to produce the best work I can each time, and send it out. I want to write a book a year. If other people can do it, I can too. I am gonna do this thing. I am gonna live up to the faith others have in me, until I believe it myself.

And I’m gonna do it in that classy way I do things…without competition. Because that’s the way I role. Pun intended.

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.

4 thoughts on “Umph!”

  1. A story:
    “Years ago John Campbell Jr. ran into Isaac Asimov.
    Campbell asked why Isaac had not sent him stories recently. Isaac replied that he had not written anything good enough to submitt. JohnCampbell drew himself up and proclaimed “What gives you the right to decide what stories I publish?”
    Don’t send in turds but don’t endlessly polish gemstones either.

  2. Great post!

    When I see how much other people are doing I often wonder what I’m doing wrong–why can’t I do as much as them? It’s been a slow process to turn that around and use it as inspiration instead. It’s also been a slow process to get faster. (Outlining instead of pantsing seems to be helping, but it’s hard to say.)

    It was good to meet you at Worldcon. I’ll tell my writers group here about the workshop at ICon.

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