Monday, February 20, 2012

What's the Worst Thing You've Done as a Writer?

Heh. This should be interesting...

What's the worst thing you've done, had to do, or had happen to you as a writer? Did you kill off a favorite character? Did you delete your unfinished novel in a fit of despair -- or worse, did you delete it by accident? Were you laid off from your writing job? Did you get really drunk one night and write an orgy scene in the middle of your children's novel? Violate Godwin's Law when raging at the publishing industry? Offend someone critical to your career or cite incorrect facts? Yell "FIRE" in a crowded library just to get some peace and quiet? Make horrendous grammar mistakes, misspell your own name in a query letter, or make a really embarrassing typo involving the name "Denis"?

Tell me. I want to hear your horror stories...and I don't mean the Stephen King kind. Although if your Worst Thing I've Done as a Writer story involves Stephen King, by all means, please tell.

Now it's my turn. *evil laugh*

The meanest thing I've done as a writer was create a character, present him in such a way as to be a fangirl heartthrob, let my mom and a good friend read up to a certain point and develop fictional-character-crushes on him -- and then reveal with glee that he dies in the end. I don't think they've forgiven me yet.

The worst thing that's ever happened to me as a writer was getting laid off my freelance writing job, along with a ton of other writers who used to write for the same web magazine. It was an issue with Panda, pageviews, and how many writers they could afford to pay. They basically stripped down their staff to the editors and their content to a few core areas, eliminating everything and everyone else. I don't resent them -- it was probably necessary to stay afloat -- but it came at a really bad time, when I really needed a job. I ended up having to lie that I still had that job in order not to be kicked out of my house.

The worst thing I've done as a writer was get a professional critique. That's $40 and a lot of self-esteem I'm never getting back. Don't get me wrong -- the critique of my query was extremely helpful. I just threw it in because the package called for it, and ended up scrapping the query and starting over based on his advice. However, when it came to the critique of my first ten pages, it's clear in retrospect that they were not a writer of the genre and probably not the best person to get feedback from. They didn't like my voice, and the closing thoughts were degrading and unconstructive. At the time, I took this critique very much to heart -- they were a professional, after all. I can say now that it really hampered my ability to sit down and just write, because I became so worried about judgment and whether I was "following the rules." I still struggle with this.

Your turn!

12 comments:

  1. Rob Hampton @sillynotabsurdMon Feb 20, 03:45:00 PM CST

    I regret nothing about my writing, especially the offense I have sometimes given. It was always deserved. As for reactions, well, here's a bit from a review on the script that I hope to unleash on the world! (that'll be pretty mean of me :)

    "Well, congrats on contributing to my nightmares last night with your screenplay. I'm only on page 41 (had to actually do homework for classes) and I already had 12 hours of dreams based on it... nice job"

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    1. You know, that's really very high praise for your writing, especially if the screenplay was horror. :) I would probably dance with glee if someone wrote me that. I am a bad person in that one of my favorite parts of being a writer is manipulating others' emotions and thoughts...mwahaha. ;)

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    2. It's an action-thriller. Female protag. And "the best female supporting character I've ever read..." says another reader ;) I'll let you know when I sell it!

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    3. It sounds fantastic! Female characters ftw! :) Please do tweet me or something when you sell it or film it.

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  2. I can be terrible in panels sometimes. Once I was in a panel discussion with a bunch of other women who were all being very PC about multicultural writing and who could write what about whom. I got very impatient saying that just because Frank McCourt was Irish didn't make me feel any better about how he portrays my culture of origin. Well, don't diss Frankie in a university writing workshop, I learned that. Then I told them about Helen Demidenko (Google it) which made them all very sad and twitchy. I wish I'd known at the time about Leon Carmen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanda_Koolmatrie) because that would have finished them. After that I decided not to go to open discussions anymore.

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    1. That's not being terrible! That's being honest and having an opinion. :) And yikes, I Googled Helen Demidenko...Reminds me of those people who write fake memoirs.

      Also, what does PC mean? "Post-colonial" is the only thing I can come up with...Sorry. :/

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    2. PC means "politically correct" - and it's what people are who profess tolerance for all people, ideas, cultures, etc ... except ones they don't like. Idea nazis is a good way to think of them.

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    3. Ah, thanks. *smacks self* I definitely knew that; not sure why I blanked. Idea Nazis -- that is a term I will have to remember. :)

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  3. The worst thing I ever did was write a story about how much I hated someone, and then gave it to her. She liked it. So it probably wasn't very good.

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    1. Haha, that sounds fantastic. The funny thing is, I have a situation right now where I would love to write a story like that and then give it to a certain person. She's probably too oblivious and self-centered to understand, though...I shall keep my thoughts to myself and NOT go through with that plan. I won't, I won't...*as I compose the first sentence in my head*

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  4. PC = politically correct, right?

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