E.J. Wenstrom: Five Things I Learned Writing Mud

Mud LARGE

Trapped by his Maker’s command to protect a mysterious box, Adem is forced to kill anyone who tries to steal it. When a young boy chances upon Adem’s temple, he resists temptation, intriguing the golem. As the boy and his sister convince Adem to leave the refuge of his temple, the group lands in a web of trouble.

Now Adem will do whatever necessary to keep his new young charges safe, even if it means risking all to get rid of the box. Their saving grace comes in the form of an angel who offers to set Adem free of the box’s magic by granting his greatest desire—making him human. But first, Adem must bring back the angel’s long-dead human love from the Underworld. 

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Say yes. (And no.)

As a newbie author trying to get your start, say yes to as many opportunities as you (reasonably) can. Over the past several years while writing Mud, I’ve taken writing classes that turned into an amazing writer critique/support group, contributed guest posts for writing blogs, and helped out other writers online.

And ta-da—it sounds like common sense in retrospect, but it’s blown my mind to discover that now, these contacts have turned into people I have relationships with, and they’re all happy to help me spread the word about my book.

For advanced yes-sayers, the next step is to learn when to say no, too—protect the time you need to write and do your best at the opportunities you’re lucky enough to have already.

Touch your book every day.

Not literally. That’s weird. Stop it.

But really—do something to further your manuscript every single day. Writing a book is hot mess. There’s a lot of moving pieces of character development, plot arcs, worldbuilding, and more, all swooshing around and mixing together in half-developed blobs.

While writing Mud, I learned that it only took a couple days of missed writing time to totally lose my momentum. But when I touched it every day, even if it was just five minutes of jotting down notes on a loose scrap of paper, it kept my head in the game.

Edits: NOT the worst.

Every time I got into a round of edits, whether it be self-editing, feedback from my critique group, or notes from my editor, my first instinct was to put it off. It gave me that dark looming icky feeling, like a Dementor had just entered the room.

But then I’d bite the bullet and dive in, because it was inevitable and because I was just too busy for that procrastination shit. And you know what? It was never actually that bad. Smart feedback can even be a creative catalyst for new, better ideas.

It was never, not once, the miserable experience I expected it to be.

Not all edits are equal.

I have been incredibly lucky as a writer, in that many people were willing to take the time to give me thoughtful feedback on my novel.

But when many different people give you feedback, their opinions sometimes directly contradict each other. And even when they don’t contradict, not all of those outside opinions are right for you. It’s one thing to give each critic’s feedback respect and consideration. It’s a completely different thing to blindly follow every line of that feedback to a T.

As the writer, it’s your responsibility to determine what edits are right for your book … and which ones are not.

Support everyone around you the way you want to be supported.

I knew I’d need to rely on my family, friends, and extended network to help promote my book. But I’m finding that some of the close friends I thought were given advocates are really not, while others I’d never have expected to care at all are more excited than I’d expect my own mother to be, and are going out of their way to help me any way they can. It’s a truly amazing, humbling thing to see how excited people can get for some little thing I created.

The lesson I’m taking from this is that everyone else deserves that kind of support from me, too, when thier time comes. In fact, I wish I’d been going the extra mile for some of these people for years. I’ve lived, I’ve learned, and now I’ll do better.

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E. J. Wenstrom is a fantasy and science fiction author living in Cape Canaveral, FL. When she’s not writing fiction, E. J. drinks coffee, runs, and has long conversations with her dog. Ray Bradbury is her hero.

E. J. Wenstrom: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest 

Mud: City Owl Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

22 comments

    • Hahaha. That’s a great idea. My dog’s name is Pippi, as in Longstocking. I’m on a campaign to talk my husband into getting a second dog so I can name it Eloise. I’m a sucker for fictitious & troublesome girls.

  • Okay, thank goodness. I’m an aspiring writer and I just went to a little event in which early-to-late teenage “writers” (kids being wannabe authors, scriptwriters, etc. etc.) along with a supervising adult pass a small piece of their writing to the others and we edited what was in front of us. I blushed at compliments, face-palmed at mistakes, got dizzy at contradicting tips, and did some grumbly-mumbling about some of the more tactical feedback. It’s nice to know that just because someone else thinks it should be written in a certain style doesn’t mean it actually should, or that it’s right for you.

    That isn’t to say you shouldn’t give the feedback some thought just because you don’t like it, of course. Even if it comes from some random teen you don’t know. ;)

    NOT ALL EDITS ARE EQUAL. I’ll keep that forever. Thanks for the wonderful article!

  • I have four kids and a part-time day job besides. That “touch the book every day advice” has been calling me from different sources, and I keep walking away from it. Of course you’re right! Maybe I’m ready to commit now. I do want to finish revising my novel. Thanks for the article!

    • You know, everyone’s a little different. For every author preaching “write every day,” there’s another saying that’s nonsense. For me, I’ve found it to be true, and important — if only to remind myself that I AM in fact making progress, on those days where I feel terribly discouraged. For a busy life like yours, I’d say consider scribbling in a notebook or Word doc for two minutes before bedtime for a few weeks and see how you feel … and then gauge as necessary. If you don’t need to write every day, you don’t need to write every day :) To each their own.

  • Boy, the momentum thing is really real. Thanks. I’m with you on the woman has heroes thing. Why are all of the heroes always 16 to 25? So I’m going to start with an old lady and see where she wanders. I have lots of support, but I’m shy about reviews of my writings. I keep forgetting that when I’m done, they wander off to a reader who will read their ideas into what they read. I have a good group that I joined, and I like to write. But somedays my fingers move off to another place completely…Thanks for the support. I love your responses.

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