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Celestial Goldfish

April 2017

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Fight Through the Fear

Two months ago, I read a story prompt for an anthology call, and I immediately had an idea. However, I didn't start writing it. Why?

I was scared of the story.

See, it involved hard science. I don't write much hard science fiction. I'm very fact-oriented and OCD. I must get it right. This particular story idea required writing about teleportation, and I hadn't seen any other fiction approach it from my angle--a good thing, and also a bad thing.

Weeks passed. The idea still bugged me. I ran a number of searches through Google, trying to see if any actual research had delved into the tangent I was pursuing. I couldn't find anything.

My brother likes reading hard science, so I asked him (mind you, this is the first time I have ever queried him like this). He was pretty sure he had read something along those lines and he said he would try to find it again. I shoved the idea to the back of my brain. A couple more weeks flashed by.

I realized that the deadline for the anthology was a month out. I asked my brother if he had found anything; he hadn't. Part of me wanted to say, "Oh well, so much for that."

The other part of me was keenly aware of the truth: I was afraid of the story, I'd been procrastinating for weeks, and I'd used my brother as part of my procrastination excuse.

So I said, "Well, screw it," and I started writing.

Two days later, I had a draft. I posted it for critique and sent it around to a few other trusted souls. I even sent it to my brother--again, first time I have ever done that--and was shocked he liked it. I honestly don't know if he has read any of my other stories before. Also, since he now knew exactly where my story was going, he was able to give me pointed advice to get the science right. Yay!

I took all that feedback and revised. I submitted it. And you know what? Six days later the story was accepted. One of my fastest turn-arounds ever, and for an anthology I really, really wanted to break into... and after I spent a month scared of the story, so paralyzed by the fear of screwing up that I almost didn't try at all.

Fight that fear. Good things will come.

Addendum: As of October 2012, that story is now published. "Overlap" can be read in Cucurbital 3, published by Paper Golem.

Comments

Congratulations! That's so awesome.

I'm going to try to learn a lesson from you. I paralyze myself with fear of what I'm writing all the time.
I'd like to say I learned from my own lesson, but I know it's an on-going battle. However, this is something I can remind myself about in the future.
Congrats on the placing. I find you don't need loads of science, just three salient pieces of data, and that will work. Well that was the case for my two acceptances anyway.
That's what worked out for me, too. I was able to imply more knowledge than I actually possess.
I do that a lot, come to think of it...
A perfect cat macro for the subject, as always!
I'm very happy for you, Beth. Even more so now that I know what a struggle was involved. Congratulations :)
Thanks! It was scary to write and scary to put it out there for critique. I really appreciate the feedback you provided.
Congratulations!

I read a hard science story on the idea of teleportation, and I do remember that it said that was probably the least feasible idea ever to come out of science fiction. So... probably better that you just went it on your own. People are willing to believe as long as what you put out there seems like it could possibly work. :)
Or in the case of my story, what could possibly not work.
Congrats on pushing through the fear. I know just how tough that is to do.
Thanks. It's always a challenge, but it's really nice when it pays off so quickly.
Congratulations for getting it accepted! I'm glad you took the chance and wrote it.
Thanks! So am I.
Congradulations! Please let us know where it's coming out.

Have you read The Stars My Destination (Alfred Bester), a classic? I yam dating myself here...

Note the white beard on Billy Goat.
I haven't read "The Stars My Destination" yet.

I'll post when the story is out! I hope to make a more formal announcement about that particular anthology soon.
Good for you, Beth. And I must say I'm amazed that you'd be scared of anything.

It's amazing how much people want to help when they know you're a writer, isn't it? I've had two cops buy ME breakfast as they let me pick their brains (about police stuff), as well as terrific writing buddies with different specialties who've given sage advice.

When I got stuck on a scifi story (was it last year), I basically brought in a writing buddy who's worked for NASA and cowrote it with him. Third market we subbed to picked it up. His science was amazing, but more interestingly the collaboration was so smooth - THAT was the thing I was afraid of: cooperating, sharing, risking conflict, having something that was less than the sum of the parts. But it all worked out beautifully!

Good post, Beth.
Ha! I have a very bold facade. My life was ruled by fear for years. I'm still agoraphobic, though at least I function now.

It's hard for me to reach out and ask for advice sometimes--it's hard to know where to find the right answers. That's one reason I like Codex. Lots of different professional backgrounds, plus people know people.