Wednesday, August 2, 2023

IWSG - Stretching Myself

It's IWSG time! And this month I'm a co-host, along with Kate Larkindale, Diane Burton, and Janet Alcorn.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer's Support Group exists for writers to share their insecurities and give and get support. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and go to the IWSG tab to sign up. Post the first Wednesday of each month and hop around to visit others.

The optional question is: Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

I don't believe I've done this. At least not that I can remember. It's one of those things where I feel like I must have, but simply can't think of an example. I did have a story that got rejected because I had harmed a dog (the dog did not get killed). Only, the editor said they wished I had gone all the way and killed the dog. So I edited it and killed the dog. The next editor rejected it because I killed the dog. For a time, I kept both versions of the story and submitted them to different markets, paying attention to which way I thought that particular market might lean, but I never sold it. Ultimately, I gave up, removed the dog entirely, and killed a human in the dog's place, then included it as a bonus story in one of my collections.

As far as current insecurities, I'm in the middle of a project that has me questioning whether I've really advanced far enough in my writing abilities to be able to pull off this off. Am I good enough? Did this opportunity come to me too early? All I know is I'm going to do my best and hope that my insecurity is unfounded. I've got a little more research to do, and have two months to get it in by deadline.

For locals, I've got a book signing coming up on August 12th, 1-3 PM, at Hooked on Books. They will be providing cookies and lemonade. I'll be signing with Bowen Gillings, Steven J. Anderson, and Christina Bergling.

I also have a signing with a larger group at Tattered Cover in September, so I'll post about that next month. I'm looking forward to MileHiCon in October, as well, so will have that information soon, too.

If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, my first one in several months is going out soon. You can subscribe over to the right. I send out release information to my newsletter subscribers first!

My podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem is ongoing. We're actually in season 6, which is pretty crazy! We do two seasons per year. I'd like to get some more interesting cryptids and hauntings on the show (it is true crime heavy, but I'd love to have more ghosts and monsters to mix in). Any recommendations? What are some of your favorite myths, monsters, or ghosts? Any haunted sites you think might make a good story?

What's your favorite cryptid? Have you ever worried that you weren't good enough to do a project you'd taken on? What did you do to push through? What are your insecurities? Any exciting new projects you're working on?

May you find your Muse.


Liza said...

To kill the dog or not to kill the dog? What can a writer do but throw up her hands? It's such a subjective industry--right story, best writing, right place, right time. Best wishes on your current project. You CAN do it and I am sure you will. Just the idea that you are questioning it here means you are putting your heart into doing it well.

Thank you for cohosting IWSG this month.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck with the event!
Killing a human instead of the dog was a better idea.
Thanks for co-hosting today.

Pat Garcia said...

Don't let your insecurities keep you from doing what your heart knows you can do.
Thank you for co-hosting.
Shalom shalom

Nancy Gideon said...

For years I let fear of rejection keep me from submitting. I floundered in a pool of revisions but never progressed until I faced the choice of sell a book or go back to work. Talk about a motivator! Sold a book. That was 80 books ago. Don't ever give up.

Jen said...

Last year, the friend of a friend contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in collaborating on a project with him. He's a visual artist (a painter) and wanted someone to write a story based around a current painting. I'd never done anything like that before but I said yes. Ultimately, the project fell through because he and his wife moved to another state BUT I wrote the story and it's one of my absolute favorite stories I've ever written. Honestly, the only way I got through it was to write the story in the form of a fanfiction so I didn't have to think about character development and focused on plot. Then, I added my original characters and I couldn't believe how seamlessly it worked!

Sorry about the long comment! All that to say, you can DO it! Just close your eyes and go! Thanks so much for co-hosting and best of luck with your book signings!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Always go with your gut on a story.

We have a con that day - may we both sell all the books!

cleemckenzie said...

That was a difficult decision, Shannon! I'm not sure what I would have done, but in the end, you have to follow your own best instincts about a story. Thanks for col-hosting today.

Loni Townsend said...

Whooboy! You sound busy. Good luck on your deadline. I'm sure your skills are far more advanced than you think.

emaginette said...

I love how you get out there and promote. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I think the problem is we aren't Stephen King. I wonder if anyone ever rejected him over his choice to kill off an animal or a human. We have to remember we're dealing with human beings who have biases and hangups. I think that's the toughest thing we have to deal with, not pleasing everyone. Thanks for co-hosting, Shannon.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Everything we write is subjective. Kill or not to kill...LOL. We have to learn what fits best our stories. Good Post. Thank you for co-hosting!

Jemima Pett said...

I bet it would have sold if it hadn't been a dog.... lol

As for not having the confidence to do a specific project - I used to work in management development and I can confidently assure you that most people are haunted by fears they havent got the skills/wont be good enough. Except for the ones that think they really are god's gift, and they are easily recognised...
Thanks for cohosting today!

Computer Tutor said...

Me, I can't read about dogs getting killed. Goodreads actually has a list of books where the dog dies--calls it a 'cautionary list'. Humans don't like our best friends dying.

Lynn La Vita said...

You asked,
You asked,
"Have you ever worried that you weren't good enough to do a project you'd taken on?"
My answer: "I reach out for help."
Just over a year ago, I decided to build the website of my dreams. I studied, joined web design group, researched, made copious notes. I was disappointment wit the results.

I hire a web design company in Armenia to work with me to build the site. The four week contract stretched to eight months. I terminated our contract.

Alex suggested I ask IWSG FB for referral. I was lucky and the referral was a perfect match. Today (2 Aug), my whiz-bang website when live.

In summary, after exhausting all my options I would become still and imagine solutions coming to me.

Cheers, @ Lynn La Vita

PJ Colando said...

Thanks for sharing and for co-hosting.

As for insecure - the only ones who aren't are babies and that may only be because they can't talk - ha!

Patricia JL said...

I knew about your podcast but it didn't click with me Monsters. Mysteries. It's what I've been writing newsletters about, but my focus has been on those lurking in Michigan. I need to go subscribe to your podcast. Ooo. Maybe I can be a guest and share all the Michigan mysteries I've found. =D

Diane Burton said...

I can't imagine an editor telling you to kill the dog. I had to laugh, though, when you said you left out the dog and killed the human.

Thanks for co-hosting this month.

Samantha Bryant said...

Oh dear, that poor dog. LOL. I have a couple of stories like that, too, where I had a hard time settling on which version was the "real" one and which one was just an alternate universe I'd been noodling on. Thanks for hosting today! @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Victoria Marie Lees said...

You are a formidable woman, Shannon! You can do this, despite your insecurities. All the luck with the project as well as all the book signings. Bravo! We can only do my best!

Of course, I need to remember this as well. Thanks for co-hosting.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for co-hosting. I've gotten conflicting feedback before and submitted different versions too. Good luck with your current project and presentation.

ib said...

Shannon, I worry about not being good enough constantly. I am learning that I simply need to be the best version of myself and if I can pull that off, everything else will fall in place. As far as cryptids go, Mothman has always interested me and I cannot place an exact reason why.

Arlee Bird said...

I have a difficult time changing anything I've written within minutes let alone going back at a later date and changing it. I'd rather just leave old stuff alone and keep moving on to never things.


diedre Knight said...

Hi Shannon! So, you saved the dog and killed a person? Now that's some tough love ;-) Well, let's see. There are a few "true" stories about those who defied the curse of the Petrified Forest (Legends of America - Ghostly Legends of Arizona). Your posts are always interesting. Thank you for co-hosting!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I'm sort of shaking my head at the truth that in our stories it's more acceptable to kill a person than an animal.

Let's see... I don't think I know all the cryptids, but as a PNW native, I of course have to vote for Bigfoot. I don't in the least believe such a critter exists, but I like idea. said...

I can believe the dead dog would bother more people than the dead person. Thanks for co-hosting!

Sonia Dogra said...

That was an interesting anecdote from your writing life. Best wishes for the events. Thank you for co-hosting.

Olga Godim said...

Frankly, I never had a pet, so I never include them in my writing. So far, it worked for me.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Liza, with that story, it was simply never the right answer!

Alex, I've killed plenty of humans (in writing), but only one dog.

Pat, I'm definitely going to do it, but I sure hope I do it well.

Nancy, that's a great encouragement, thank you!

Jen, that sounds like a fun project to have done, even if it didn't work out the way it was originally supposed to.

L. Diane, I liked the original better for sure.

C. Lee, I do feel like it changed the entire dynamic of the story, and I should have stuck with the first story.

Loni, I hope so!

Anna, I'm lucky some great opportunities come my way!

Joylene, I actually read King's Needful Things right after all this, and felt incredibly indignant that he killed a puppy in a horrific way in that book (among many other horrific things) and no one said a word.

Cathrina, absolutely true! Things would have gone differently if I'd been more experienced when it happened.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon - I must say killing a dog or a man ... oh well - way to go!! Glad it's fiction. I'm so naive ... I'd never heard of cryptids ... so learnt about the pseudoscience animals. Good luck with your new projects - cheers Hilary

Shannon Lawrence said...

Jemima, I bet you're right, ha! Also, I appreciate your expert opinion, and we definitely all know that person.

Jacqui, I've heard of that list! Read a book recently where I skipped FOUR PAGES of a kitten being brutally tortured. Later in the book, a sea turtle was horribly killed. I can usually get through it, but this book focused a little too lovingly on the torture.

Lynn, I'm glad it worked out in the end! That was a lot to wade through to get your website.

PJ, ha, great way to look at it! We could all learn a little something from babies.

Patricia, that would be awesome!

Diane, as it turns out, most people are okay with me killing a human, but not a dog. I should really go back and look at what market/editor that was. Just out of curiosity.

Samantha, it's an interesting (and frustrating) dilemma, isn't it?

Victoria, it's something we all definitely need to remember. It's a hard career we've chosen.

Natalie, it's so hard when that happens! Given, now I approach things much differently than I did then, and I've learned more since then. I'm betting you have, too.

ib, Mothman is one that sticks out, for sure. Especially since his presence is often considered a prophecy of things to come. Most cryptids don't have that level of "power."

Lee, I also struggle with changing things. It doesn't help that I enjoy writing much more than editing.

diedre, it was a story about pregnancy cravings and someone had to die! Haha!

Rebecca, your choice of cryptid amused me, but only because I insisted to someone the other day that I would always be Team Bigfoot/Sasquatch because I was from Oregon. You can't grow up in the PNW without hearing about Bigfoot.

Kim, it's kind of sad, isn't it? I've got theories on why, and a lot of it boils down to a level of innocence of the victim, perhaps?

Sonia, it was the only fitting thing I could think of, but now of course I've thought of some more.

Olga, probably a good way to go! I only include them if there's a reason, and then they're always a full character in the story.

Hilary, I've loved cryptids for a long time! It was something I nerded out about as a kid.

Kristina Kelly said...

Have you done Kelpies yet? One of my favorite Scottish myths. Black horse of deep waters that takes children.

Melissa said...

I'm feeling that way about the first draft of my current WIP. I know it will get better, so I force myself to keep plodding along.

Thanks for co-hosting!

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Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You killed the dog!!!!! I wish I could attend your book signing. I love events like that.

Beth Camp said...

Thank you for teaching me a new word (cryptids!). Yes, I really do like stories about Saskwatch and part of me wonders, what if? why not? Thank you for opening up your doubts about that current wip. Each day, we have to confront those doubts, maybe see where they lead us back into story, those tickles that say something is missing here. Perseverance furthers . . . and you have that down!

Kate Larkindale said...

To kill the dog or not? It's really up to you and how the dead dog fits into the story. At the end of the day, whichever version of the story you believe in is going to be the right one, even if editors disagree.

Eden "Kymele" Mabee said...

It definitely says something about this life we've chosen that you got penalized both for not killing the dog, then for killing it...

I KNOW I've taken on projects that I was advanced enough for. That's where all those huge Thank You notes in the acknowledgements come from, imho.

Hooked on Books... is that the one in Wildwood NJ (still not doable for me, but definitely easier than a place in Colorado)

Steven Arellano Rose Jr. said...

UFOs have always creeped me out, and ever since I was a kid I've always had a fascination for Big Foot. More recently I saw show about paranormal activity and strange phenomena that William Shatner hosts on Netflix and one segment of an episode was about a legendary goatman on the US east coast somewhere and I found that pretty creepy.

Toi Thomas said...

Thanks for co-hosting this month. I always feel like I'm not good enough, but I'm also stubborn and like to prove myself and everyone else wrong by trying anyway.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wow. You couldn't win with the dog thing, could you!