Pushing Yourself In Every Way by Mhairi Simpson
I probably shouldn’t be writing for public consumption right now. I’m tired, and in a fair amount of pain, but I’m making myself write because, well, I don’t like letting people down by not doing what we agreed (quite a while ago now) that I would do. When I said I would do it. While it’s fine for me to write a post on Wednesday to be posted on my own site the same day, it’s not alright to do that for someone else’s site. In this case, this site. Because my contact lives in Australia and there’s that pesky time zone thing that just gets in the way every time…
So, I’m writing. Even though I actually want to go to bed. Honestly, this is part of the writer’s life. So is the pain I mentioned earlier.
Now, don’t worry. I haven’t been attacked by a creature from the Black Lagoon. This is entirely self-inflicted. You see, I started back at the gym last week. Only went once. There followed four days of agony as my muscles reminded me it’s been a while. So I started again yesterday. The workout involved planks. Not planking, that fun, stupid thing people were doing a while ago for the internet. Planks, which are to be found in the dictionary under “abuse of one’s core; failsafe method for making oneself cry”.
They HURT. At least, they do when you haven’t done them in well over a year, and the part of your body they are supposed to strengthen is weaker than it was when you originally started doing them. As in, before you slipped a disk and did no exercise at all for six months.
And they don’t just hurt while you’re doing them. Actually they don’t hurt too much while you’re doing them. You just feel your lower back turning to mush but you have to hold it because if you just collapse that could really do some damage… I held it for thirty seconds, just about. The second fifteen seconds were rather stressful. I had visions of my abdomen hitting the floor and my spine bending and that disk popping right out again… Ick.
Thankfully it didn’t happen :S
I’m telling you this because it relates to writing. You can get out of practice with it and it’s very difficult to get back into practice, especially if you’ve had some horrible feedback. But you have to work at it, and the more you push yourself, the faster you improve. Which isn’t to say it’s easy. It’s not. But you see results sooner.
This is on my mind today for several reasons. One, the aforementioned pain. Particularly in my abs and glutes. Since I did some rowing this morning I don’t know if my body is protesting yesterday’s planks or today’s rowing. Either way, I have sore muscles. Because I pushed myself and I don’t regret that.
Another reason is that I need to push myself in my writing. Not just writing novels, although I kind of need to knuckle down to that, too, but also in terms of short stories. I need to work on producing short stories because, apart from anything else, it’s nice to be able to include some publishing credits when you query agents with your alleged masterpiece. “I’ve never even sold a short story to anyone, but my novel is AWESOME!”
Yeah. I’ll be waiting by the phone for them to call.
I’ve been afraid to push at the short story thing. Figured I should just concentrate on my novels. Now I’m thinking, I should try both. I’ve been working on the novels. I know what to do there. Time to diversify. See if I can make a name for myself. Get people to recognise me as a writer of coherent stories, as well as someone whose tweets make them laugh.
And… the improvement thing. I have few pet peeves, but one is people who ask you for your opinion of their writing when they don’t actually want it. I really do wish that, instead of saying, “Would you give me your opinion on this?” that they would say instead “Could you please read my stuff and tell me it’s great?” I’m an idiot, you see. When someone asks for my opinion on something, I’m flattered (who wouldn’t be?), but I’m also honest. Because I think they actually want my opinion. Maybe some constructive criticism, you know?
No. This is wrong. They only want my opinion if that opinion is “Wow! This is great!”
And that annoys me. If your stuff is great, you obviously have nothing left to learn so why ask me for my opinion? Why not just go ahead and publish? OR you could accept constructive criticism from someone who doesn’t know you from Adam but still took time out of their day to read your stuff that you wrote years ago and apparently haven’t bothered to work on since, and maybe you could say thank you as well.
Can you tell that annoyed me? Shocker, eh? I can’t make them improve their writing. I can’t even make them see it needs to be improved. But I can work on my own, and that’s what I’m going to do.
Real life is just too real, which is why Mhairi writes fantasy, preferably for teenagers because they’re closer to her mental age. This can, and often does, involve griffins, unicorns, werewolves and/or vampires. And because she likes a laugh, there are also pink mice and gods with faulty moral compasses. But whatever she’s writing, there’ll be a lot of blood and a LOT of magic, because that’s what makes her worlds go round.
She’s been to six schools (seven if you include university) and lived in five countries on two continents. She speaks three languages and bits and pieces of three more. She once galloped a horse into a cow (by accident) while at work and she’s been to Machu Picchu three times. Apart from writing, she likes pretty shoes, making jewellery, films, dancing, reading and chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate.
Her first book, For The Love Of Gods, will be available in autumn 2012.