Confidence

Confidence

Confidence | Guy L. PaceWe usually express confidence outwardly. It shows in our body language, dress, attitude, and how we communicate with others.

Or, lack of confidence.

Or, in the example provided by the image here, questionable fashion sense?

Okay, I’m really not one for criticizing other’s fashion taste, though. My wardrobe consists of t-shirts with pockets and jeans. Hmmm … getting off track a little here.

At one panel at the Spokane Science Fiction and Fantasy convention (SpoCon) I listened to fellow authors talk about confidence. When it came down to honest confessions, most said the same thing. While we know our first drafts are awful, we tremble in fear that we will be found as frauds when we submit our work. That’s basically true across the board.

This is familiar territory for men. We spend most of our lives in desperate fear we’ll be found out, and worry we aren’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or <whatever> enough. We hold ourselves up to co-workers and find ourselves lacking, and we beat ourselves up regularly. In truth we’re capable, strong, smart, and talented. It is just to hard to admit.

Yellow Jacket

Take the guy in the image with the yellow, double-breasted jacket. He is either, based on the impression, supremely confident and courageous. Or a complete idiot. But, when you compare yourself to certain best-selling authors, they look like that guy in the yellow jacket and you might feel like me–a guy who shows up in jeans and a t-shirt. They act, speak, and lecture like they know everything and the world turns on them. But who are they really?

Is their first draft gold? Does it go to press unchanged, unsullied by an editor? Does that best-selling author struggle with self-confidence after that first draft, wondering if it rises above the 90 percent that is crap in Sturgeon’s law?

What you find out in conventions–especially small, intimate ones where best-selling authors are honest and forthcoming–they struggle with confidence just like the rest of us. They know their first draft is awful. They rewrite, revise, and self-edit before getting more professional help. Just like the rest of us.

One difference is they (those best-selling authors) have been at it longer and manage to find a public persona to present to the world. They get up in the morning, put on that yellow jacket, and lecture to students, meet the adoring public, or get interviewed by the media.

It’s when they take off that yellow jacket and sit down and share with folks at a con, you get to meet the real person and find out they aren’t really any different.

Keep writing.

 

 

Craft

It’s About the Craft

craft | Guy L. PaceWriting is a craft. An art. A skill you hone and improve with practice and time–seasoned with blood and tears.

When you first start writing, your clumsy, stilted prose dribbles down the page. Your words flow in sluggish sentences with passive verbs and all to many adverbs. Your dialog shouts with too many words.

As you practice and improve, you find efficiencies in voice and style. Sometimes you try to imitate another writer’s style to see how things fit. Still, more words end up in the trash bin than in the submission envelope.

Finally, something changes. Your writing becomes a craft. An art. You develop your own style and your own voice. You may still have one roadblock. Fear. You fear letting your feelings, secrets, desires, or beliefs out on the page. What if someone reads that?

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”Ernest Hemingway

Papa says it best. He also says it concisely and briefly. Your fears try to keep you from getting the hurt, the emotion, the beliefs out on the page. What you may not know: You’re not alone in those things. You are not the only one who hurts, who believes what you do, who feels the way you do about something. You’re not the only one with That secret.

A Service

One of the great services writers do in society is sharing those hard things so others know they are not alone. If you hold it all back, others can’t learn and you’ll always be alone. The story must come out.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”Ernest Hemingway

Then, write another. And another. Repeat until you’re done and you told the story.

Look, it if were easy, it wouldn’t be a craft or art form. Everyone could do it and stories or novels would have little or no value. So it isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. One more quote from Papa.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

The main thing, keep writing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Keep improving and learning. Someday you’ll write something others will find and value. Then you’ll know it was all worth it.

Keep writing.

 

 

Changes

 Crater Lake | Guy L. Pace

Changes

So much changes in our lives. About fifty years ago, I was a young man in Central Oregon. My friends and I made a huge playground of the high desert. We explored lava tube caves and the wide open juniper forest, climbed Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister, among other things. What is now a national monument (the Newberry National Volcanic Monument) was our back yard.

Where we used to hunt rabbits, bike, and hike is now filled with subdivisions around Bend, OR. Our old archery deer hunting grounds became the Sun River resort destination.

Now I must pay admission to go up Lava Butte or visit Paulina Lake. Well, I would if I didn’t have my senior pass (that was a very good decision).

Change is the only constant.

I met my brother and cousin in Southern Idaho recently, and the three of us rode our motorcycles through to Oregon, the coast, and finally to Crater Lake. In all the time I’ve lived around the area, I never got to Crater Lake. This time I did and it was the final destination we had as a group. From here, we split and went different ways. This gave me some time to reflect on our travels, the places we visited, and the sights we saw.

The pace

Some places, like the John Day area, change little or slowly. It seemed some of the farms we passed had the same horses I used to see all those years ago. The pace is slower and all the businesses are still there.

Bend, on the other hand, is so very different now. The pace is faster. Growth continues. Nothing looks the same. It takes time and effort to find the old house, the park, the high school, and some of the other places that were meaningful so long ago.

Like the characters in our stories, change is a given. Nothing stays the same for long. Prices increase and people move. Farmers grow different crops because of economic changes. New highways bypass old neighborhoods and leave the past behind. All that impacts our characters. Sometimes for the good. Sometimes not. It is rare that a place retains the nuances someone might remember from long ago.

Keep this in mind as you work with a character in your story.

Keep writing.

 

P.S. — Never explore lava tube caves alone. You never know when you need a friend to pull you out by the feet. And, take a flashlight with fresh batteries.

 

 

Small

Small is Beautiful

Small | Guy L. PaceThese days, I’m amazed at how small things can get. What used to need more carrying capacity, now fits into a small bag.

I’m packing for a trip. My sleeping bag compresses into a very small bag. My sleeping mat and pillow go into a smaller bag. Cooking and other necessities take much less space in the saddle bags these days. What required a lot of bungee cords and cargo nets in the past, now fit neatly into the saddle bags and I have more room for basic luggage and me.

In the past, touting on my Harley-Davidson softail was more complicated. Now, with all the newer, more compressed, smaller equipment, it is getting simpler. I now expect a more enjoyable journey. I’m looking forward to it.

Like the Chihuahua in the picture (that looks so very much like my little Paco from years ago), small is beautiful. Simple, little, small things make a huge difference in our lives and in our writing. Chihuahuas bring to their humans huge loyalty and great courage. What a wonderful and unexpected benefit from such a small package.

After the first draft

When we write–after the first draft of course–we should make every effort to trim the writing down to the essentials. Just those words necessary to the story. Like Hemingway, use economy, precise word choice, nuance, to move the story and the reader. In The Old Man and the Sea, Papa kept the narrative to a minimum and used his skills to tell a powerful, complete, Nobel-prize winning novella in under 30,000 words. He claims the story did not have symbolism, but was the bare story of courage, pain, and triumph.

Like Papa, I don’t need to lead the reader around the story by the nose. I let them fill in the details with their own imagination. My own Sudden Mission could have run to 100,000 words, but would have been more of a doorstop at that length. Write just what needs writing.

Keep writing (with a Chihuahua in your lap).

 

Countdown Sale

Countdown Sale

Sudden Mission | Guy L. PaceHappy Fourth of July weekend! This weekend, I’m celebrating the birth of our country (and mine) with an Amazon Countdown Sale on Sudden Mission.

Starting July 1, the ebook edition of Sudden Mission goes on sale for $0.99. That price last until July 3, when the price goes to $1.99. On July 5, the price goes back to $2.99.

You need to act fast to get the best price. Tell your friends and neighbors. Tell people on the street.

Hit this link for Sudden Mission. You can buy it as a gift or for yourself. Go crazy!

Enjoy!