Tucking Your Tentacles

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley!

Today I’m co-hosting the IWSG! Check out the bottom of the post for information on the IWSG anthology contest.

OCTOBER 5th QUESTION: When do you know your story is ready?

This is a tough question to answer. By ‘ready’ I assume that means ready to send off to an agent/editor and cross your fingers. No matter how long you’ve been writing or how far along you are in your career, getting a manuscript to that point takes a lot of rewriting and editing. Have you read and re-read your work, fixed it up, changed it up, made sure all the slots fit in the holes, that things go from point A to point B, and let a few other people look at it? Are your eyes bleeding yet? Are you ready to never have to look at this story again as long as you live? Great, then you should put it away for a few months so you can go back and do it all over again with fresh eyes and a clear brain.

One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, says that trying to get a book ready is like “putting an octopus to bed.” You keep trying to tuck it in but the tentacles keep falling out. I think this is a great analogy. You might fix one issue only to find another issue has popped out from under the covers. You make yourself crazy trying to fit everything under the blanket, and all the while the octopus is just staring at you and squirting ink all over you. Somedays you start to question if you really love the octopus and want to keep it, or throw it down a storm drain.

For me, I know things are done when I can’t find anything else to fix. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can still be fixed, but like a tall, teetering tower of blocks, I’ve finally got things stacked up just right so that it won’t collapse. It’s good enough. It might even be good.

Then, if a publisher picks it up, they’re going to knock your tower over and make you reassemble it so it doesn’t wobble at all, and you get to do this all over again. Welcome to being an author!


Announcing the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 3000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain’s redemption, a hero’s lack of confidence, a hero’s lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Deadline: November 1st 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

GO HERE TO LEARN MORE

83 comments

  1. I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep tonight after that analogy. Well, at least I can stay up and get some writing done.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month’s IWSG bloghop.

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  2. Now whenever I look at my story, I’m going to see an octopus! LOL
    It did put a smile on my face, so maybe I can reference the octopus image during those moments of frustration when the story is not going as smoothly as it should… 🙂
    Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month.

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  3. That is an amazing analogy and one I can relate to. I think my octopus is asleep now but the real challenge is when it wakes up again and I start dealing with the tentacles and ink. Perhaps it’s time to bring it out of its coma.
    Thank you for co-hosting 🙂

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  4. Ha, ha, that’s a great analogy with the octopus. I can just picture it. I’m the same way about knowing when a story is done. If I can read through it without finding something to fix, it’s done. Thanks for co-hosting!

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  5. Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month, Megan! I’ve done it before, and I know it’s time consuming, but also lots of fun. I loved the title of your post and AL’s octopus analogy ~ perfect.
    Happy writing in October!

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  6. The octopus analogy is great, but “squirting ink all over you” really nails it. Sort of like “don’t skirt ink all over me and tell me it’s raining.” I think I am going to start using this phrase! Thanks for co-hosting this month!

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  7. Wonderful analogies used. All of this is still new to me and each thing I learn makes the journey of being an author that much more daunting. I’m figuring out a way to push through and the advice I’m learning from this group is helping.

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    1. Don’t worry about learning everything all at once, it can be pretty overwhelming. And the good news is, even people who have been writing for a long time don’t have it all figured out–we all learn by writing and keeping at it, each and every day. Good luck to you on your journey!

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  8. Thank you for co-hosting, Megan. I like your piece of advice that says, “For me, I know things are done when I can’t find anything else to fix. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can still be fixed, but like a tall, teetering tower of blocks, I’ve finally got things stacked up just right so that it won’t collapse. It’s good enough. It might even be good.”
    That is very encouraging.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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  9. Love the octopus analogy. I think I need to get one to stick on my desk 😉
    Hope you do decide to join us for the blog hop, it’s a blast!

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  10. Putting an octopus to bed is a great analogy. Go, Ann Lamott. I am always finding those extra tentacles, but I guess I need to move on sometimes 🙂

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  11. Great post, Megan. I’m trying to rebuild my novel, after my editor played with it 🙂 It’s tougher than I thought. But I won’t stop until the last piece is firmly fixed in place. Thanks for co-hosting.

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  12. I think you’re right . . . we get to a point of doneness also knowing the editor at hand will change it anyway. Still we strive for that perfect piece of work. Thanks for co-hosting today.

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    1. Definitely! And no matter how ‘perfect’ it is, someone is going to change it up again, and again…it’s only really DONE when it’s published! (And even then you’re gonna find a typo.)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  13. Love your writing and the octopus analogy ticked my sense of humor and perfectly described the writing process. My favorite line, “…and all the while the octopus is just staring at you and squirting ink all over you.” Thank you for co-hosting this months IWSG.

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