ABNA and Attitude

22 Jan

I have submitted Morbid Curiosity to Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest for the second time (though the first time it had the unfortunately misleading title Knowing Michelle.) It’s my very first “finished” novel, and putting it into this contest again—after shamefully letting it sit stagnant for a year—has brought up some surprising feelings for me. A sort of shift in my attitude about writing.

ABNA is an awesome opportunity. Essentially, it’s a straight-to-publisher query process that has been formalized and given specific parameters and deadlines. It works the same way as submitting to agents of traditional publishers, in a sense. First you write a pitch “selling” your idea, then give a partial manuscript to show off your style, then if they’re still interested, someone reads the whole thing. The prize is a contract with Amazon Publishing. Even better than querying traditionally, contestants know exactly when decisions will be made in each round. No waiting for responses that may or may not come. The next “cut” is February 13. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

There is also a great online community of writers on the contest message boards—they are supportive, helpful, and genuinely interested in each other’s writing and career. Not all writing groups are like this, even when they aren’t directly competing with each other. Many are rife with jealously, comparing apples to oranges, and snobbery. (But I’ve been fairly lucky in that regard—my life is full of talented writers who also happen to be awesome people. )

The advice I’ve gotten from fellow writers has ranged the gambit of absolutely crucial to potentially destructive, but there comes a time when you’ve pretty much heard it all. Yet, I’m still learning about this whole business—and have realized that in some ways, I’ve been doing it wrong. Or at least, I’ve been thinking about it wrong.

I am queen of the lazy (hence a blog that hasn’t been updated in months) and I’ve often taken the advice of fellow writers and have set goals for myself—1000 words per day, 90 minutes of writing a day, write every other day and edit in between, etc. I’ve been operating with the basic attitude of “If I don’t finish (major writing project) by (some date), then (something bad will happen.)” The “something bad” ranges from missed opportunities to existential crisis. As if I have to accomplish X much by some arbitrary Y date, or I won’t really be a writer. As if I’ll miss my chance. Get too old. Or something. Goals and such are good, but this is a shitty attitude to have. It’s backwards, because writing is the END not the MEANS. So basically, I’ve told myself to chill. I’ve always known the path to publication could be very long indeed, and that I will need to work consistently towards that goal to ever achieve it, and I may never get there. There will be deadlines—but none fatal.

So, instead of thinking of ALL I want to do, making lists or resolutions or self-promises, I’m just going think, what do I want to do next?


One thing I want to do next is more of this blog-thing. So look for more posts. Upcoming topics: hard/soft scifi, sexual politics in Doctor Who and Torchwood, maybe even something about storylines in video games. Because I’m really just a nerd.


One Response to “ABNA and Attitude”

  1. Hart Johnson January 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Yeah… blogs definitely need regular love to build in readership. And I think they offer another thing that no matter how much other writing you do, can be hard to accomplish… finding YOUR voice… not character voice, but what you bring to everything you do. Because your blog is written AS YOU.

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