My story “Fifty Shades of Grays” was just chosen for Gardner Dozois’ “best SF of the year 34” anthology. Yaaay! I’d concentrated on writing novels and screenplays for…well, decades. I’d missed the fun of the shorter forms, and have a backlog of endless stories for which I’d never found expression. So I set myself a “Machine” goal just to move my work to the next level, and that means short work. This is the kind of signal you’re looking for that you’re heading in the right direction. Remember the “Machine” pattern to move you to the next level:
- Write 1-4 stories a month
- Put it in the mail
- Keep it in the mail until it sells
- Don’t re-write except to editorial request
- Read 10X what you write
- Repeat 100 times
Speaking of the Hero’s Journey, yesterday we looked at the first step, “Confronted with a challenge”. The second step is “rejection”–usually caused by fear. The fear will either be direct and obvious, or it might be the fear of change, which can jump on you even when the event is positive (a new job, a marriage, etc.)
What stopped me from creating a new ‘machine’ before? (My first one was used to break into the field)
- The belief that I didn’t have the time to write short work. Too busy making a living writing books!
- The fear of rejection. Yep. Its still floating around in there. Part of me hates getting those little notes.
- Fear that I don’t have the time to read fiction. Oh, yeah. That comes up. I’m so busy reading non-fiction! Don’t bother me.
- And the “hidden law” of step #5 is that your reading should be “one level up” from your chosen success goal. When in doubt, Shakespeare. Whatever you consider the “best of the best.” And sometimes, this feels more like “work” than “fun.” And dammit, I DON’T WANNA WORK!
Sigh. And so it goes. But every time I get a little positive feedback, I know that however far I am from my goal, I seem to be moving in the right direction.
Write with passion!