Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Wish List


July 1 question – There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t yet have much experience with the publishing industry. But as a life-long reader, what I’d really love to see is more diversity. At the moment, I am most focused on racial diversity, but we also need more diversity of upbringing, of class, of gender identity and sexual orientation and able-bodiedness.

I want to see more people of color in my books and stories. Everybody deserves to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories, whether those stories are escapist, gritty, or anywhere in between.

I want to see more books by people of color, as well. Yes, authors can (and should!) learn to write characters who are different from ourselves. We should do our research, hire (and listen to!) sensitivity readers when appropriate, and listen when corrected (And if you’re interested in doing that work, might I recommend checking out Writing the Other?). But Black, Asian, Latinx, disabled, trans, queer, and poor authors deserve space to tell their own stories. We can all strive to write about worlds that are full of diverse characters, we also need to recognize that while our imaginations may be limitless, not every story is ours to tell.

I also would love to see more diversity in our editors, publicists, and agents. Even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to favor stories by people who have had similar life experiences, or to believe our experiences are universal. Yes, that’s something that those of us with more privilege can (and should!) improve on in ourselves, but if we want to see more diverse stories, we need more diverse gatekeepers, as well.

I could say more, but as a white woman, it’s not really my place to say exactly what writers of color need from the publishing industry. I just want them to get that support, so that I can read their books.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Getting in the Zone

May 6 question – Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Truthfully, the best way for me to get into the zone is writing with other people. Under normal circumstances, one of my favorite things to do it to meet up with a writing friend at a cafe, catch up over pastries and beverages, and then settle in for a nice writing session. Since both sitting in cafes and socializing is canceled for the foreseeable future, I have had to compromise.

Zoom is currently the best tool in my arsenal. I’ve been meeting up with one of my regular writing buddies almost every week, and Cat Rambo has been hosting writing sessions on Zoom for her Patreon supporters and members of her Discord community since the pandemic began. They are well-attended, and it’s nice to see the same faces on a regular basis. She’s set up a really nice format for the medium, and it’s a great community! It doesn’t always get me all the way into “the zone,” but it’s 1.5 hours of writing time that I would not have otherwise managed, which is pretty darn good, especially right now. While I would prefer to be in my favorite cafe, these writing sessions are the next best thing.

Other news

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse is out! My physical copy arrived in the mail on Monday, and it’s absolutely beautiful. This is my first anthology publication, and the first time I have seen my fiction in hard copy. It’s been a strange experience, to have this happen during a pandemic, but it’s a weirdly appropriate time for a book of semi-hopeful stories about the end of the world.

How are you all doing? I’m looking forward to reading some of the answers to this month’s ISWG question from other people! Maybe it’ll give me the inspiration to create a decent writing ritual of my own.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Life in the Time of COVID-19

April 1 question – The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

I almost don’t know how to answer this question. How is my world in the time of COVID-19? In many ways, it’s unchanged. My husband and I already worked from home, and I don’t have kids who are suddenly underfoot and trying to adjust to huge changes. Our recreational activities are curtailed – no more meeting at coffee shops to write with friends for me, and no more long-sword class for my husband – but the basic meat of our lives remains unchanged on the surface. I know that I am incredibly lucky for that.

But life is much more than the surface, isn’t it?

It turns out that I really, really need social contact and external obligations in order to function. My mental health has taken a swift turn for the worse, which particularly sucks because I feel like I only just got onto even footing with that a few months ago. So I find myself mourning that progress, and worried about what it will take to regain it.

I’m frightened. I’m afraid of what will happen if America in general (and Boston in particular, since that’s where I live) does not take this threat seriously. We could lose a lot of lives. I try not to think about that, but the awareness is still there.

I hope that we can use this crisis to build a better society, one where we value people over profit, but I’m terrified that we won’t. I certainly don’t know how to make that happen. I’m looking to see what small steps I can take to create the world I want to see, but it’s hard. That’s nothing new.

But life carries on! I’m checking in with friends and baking. I go for walks and I snuggle my cat, who is finally living her dream of constant human companionship. I’m knitting and reading and getting some writing done.

I even have exciting writing news! I’ll write a dedicated blog post about it soon enough, but I have a short story published in a new anthology, Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, which has launched as part of a cat-themed story bundle! That runs until April 15, 2020. So if you need cat breaks, you can get ten different cat books, including Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse. I feel a little weird about doing self promotion right now, but I know that I have been craving light reading, so I assume that others are, as well. Cat books might just scratch that itch, so I figure it’s a public service at this point.

I know that I am very lucky to be able to weather this story in comfort and safety. I hope that everyone reading this is doing alright.