I was one of those kids that just never really fit in. It wasn’t any one thing that separated me from the herd, it was more like a collection of things. I wasn’t competitive and I didn’t like sports. The latest trends tended to escape me and I usually gave weird answers whenever anyone asked me a question. I also asked weird questions when it was the other way around. During elementary school and then junior high and finally high school, it was always the same. I had friends. People did like me. But there was always something off, something about me that just didn’t fit.
I tried a variety of different strategies to deal with this. I tried being a chameleon and copying what the other kids around me were doing. That didn’t work. I tried swinging all the way to the other end of the spectrum and being totally and extremely weird, and that didn’t work either. So, somewhere around late adolescence/early adulthood I resigned myself to the fact that I was an odd-shaped person in a regular kind of world and I would probably always feel out of place.
I was in the middle of writing a steamy sex scene toward the end of my novel and writing so fast my hand was cramping up. My two main characters were finally hooking up and the chemistry was sizzling. But then…I got stuck. I had to describe something that was, ahem, an intimate body part in a somewhat contorted position and I just didn’t have the words. I paused and started to think, but as I was thinking I could feel myself losing the magic of momentum. So, I pushed on as best I could, using horrible clumsy words that weren’t right at all, but knowing I needed to place priority on pinning down the emotions in the moment. I could come back later and fix everything else up.
A few years ago, in 2015, I hit a wall with writing. I had just given birth to my son a few months before, I was completely exhausted all the time, and I had been querying on multiple novels for years, with no success. I had done everything I thought I was supposed to do. Joined and founded writing groups, worked with beta readers, steeled myself through harsh critique, edited and revised my manuscripts until it felt like my eyes were going to bleed, and still…nothing.
I felt like a complete failure.
Today’s guest post is from Phillip McCollum, who many of you might remember as the author of The Pros and Cons of Being an INTJ Writer. Phillip has been blowing my mind for the past year as he’s written a new short story EVERY WEEK for 52 WEEKS. Today’s post is all about what the process taught him and how it helped him become a better writer.
52 short stories in 52 weeks?
It wasn’t going to work. I just knew it. It would be a colossal waste of time and I would be stuck in the same damn rut 52 weeks from now–a hard drive filled with innumerable half-starts and unfinished tales.
First of all, I wanted to write novels. Short stories were OK, but they weren’t novels. I’d been indoctrinated by countless ‘writing experts’ that the two styles were as different as house cats and narwhals and if you wanted to do one of them, you should absolutely, without a doubt, completely ignore the other.