Depending on who you ask, hopepunk is as much a mood and a spirit as a definable literary movement, a narrative message of “keep fighting, no matter what.” If that seems too broad — after all, aren’t all fictional characters fighting for something? — then consider the concept of hope itself, with all the implications of love, kindness, and faith in humanity it encompasses.
Now, picture that swath of comfy ideas, not as a brightly optimistic state of being, but as an active political choice, made with full self-awareness that things might be bleak or even frankly hopeless, but you’re going to keep hoping, loving, being kind nonetheless.
Through this framing, the idea of choosing hope becomes both an existential act that affirms your humanity, and a form of resistance against cynical worldviews that dismiss hope as a powerful force for change.
We could all use a little more hope, I think, but not the kind characterized by blind idealism or the certainty that in the end everything’s going to be okay. We might not be okay; there are no guarantees. But we can fight the good fight, always.
Dear Future Cheri,
Hey! How’s it going? I’m sending you this letter to remind you what to do when you’re stuck writing the same few chapters over and over again. Sometimes we beat our head against a too-familiar brick wall, and this particular wall has a head-shaped dent in it! So here are some helpful reminders for the next time it happens:
Why You’re Spinning Your Wheels
If you’re rewriting the same section of your book repeatedly, it’s probably due to one or more of the following problems:
1) You’re not setting aside enough consecutive writing days.
When you take too many days off, you lose track of your story, and you’re constantly reviewing old material instead of moving forward.
2) You don’t have enough plot details in your head.
Sometimes, you’re able to sit down and write the story organically. But other times, especially when you’re in the middle of the book, you you feel lost because the vision in your head isn’t detailed enough.
3) You’re bored with what you’re writing.
It’s possible that what you’ve come up with simply isn’t exciting enough, and no matter how well you write those chapters, they’re gonna seem wrong.
Specific Things to Do
Here are some things to try when you’re stuck:
- Schedule at least 4 consecutive writing days.
- Take a walk and/or a nap, and visualize the story. What are the images/emotions you need to create?
- Ask “is this part of the story exciting enough?” and “are the stakes high enough?”
- Go big picture! Review your high-level story outline. Does it still feel right? If not, update it.
- Go small picture! Ask “am I clear on the purpose of this chapter and what it needs to accomplish?”
- If the story still feels vague, use notecards to outline/construct the section you’re working on.
What Not to Do
- Don’t force another rewrite. Wait until you know what to write and you feel excited about what you’ve come up with.
- Don’t feel like you need to solve the problem in a day.
- Don’t start a new project. Instead, keep your mind focused on the issue at hand even if you’re “not writing.” Word count isn’t always synonymous with progress.
- Don’t rely upon logic too much. Keep asking good questions, and let your subconscious work.
Most importantly, future Cheri, don’t view these “stuck days” as negative, because when you notice that you’re stuck, it’s great! Noticing stuckness means you’ve encountered a tangle in your story, and untangling those knots is an essential part of the job. So instead of getting frustrated, get curious.
Keep on going. You’ve got this!
Woot! The Happiest Place is complete. At 11,000 words, it’s on the long side for a short story, but I’ll trim it up in editing. I’ve sent it off for some feedback. After feeling blocked all winter and spring, it feels f’ing fantastic to finish something! And I want to keep that momentum going.
I’ve turned my attention back to the next Emerald City Spies novel, Power Play. After trimming back several chapters to improve the pacing, I’m back in the thick of it, working through the ups and downs of the second act. My intention is to keep my focus here until I finish the first draft, then skip back to my other stories for a breather.
Adding Webmentions to this Blog
Okay, this is kinda nerdy, but I’m super happy about it! This blog now supports webmentions, which means you can reply to my posts on your own blog, micro blog, or even Twitter and all replies will show up beneath my posts as comments. Neat, eh?
I love webmentions because they aggregate responses in a central location, but also because they’re a good way to help readers find others who are interested in similar topics. Perhaps you can find some new internet buddies in the comment sections, eh?
A quick note for those interested in doing something similar: I used IndieWeb plugins and Bridgy to get webmentions working, and I had to turn off one of my more aggressive spam-blocking plugins to get them to work. If you’re on micro blog and looking to incorporate replies into a WordPress blog, check out the documentation here. You’ll need to verify ownership of your WordPress blog and add the feed to micro blog under Accounts.
Now that I’ve made my peace with “not doing Amazon ads” I’m focusing on slow-and-steady forms of marketing. I’m running a paid promotion for my Kat Voyzey series this month to get the first (free) book in front of new readers, and I’ve got my next newsletter drafted. I’m a mere marketing tortoise in a world of algorithm-chasing rabbits, and I’m okay with that!
Finding a Publication Path for Short Stories – Update
After thinking it through, I’m going to make The Happiest Place available as a freebie my website. I wrote it for the joy of it, so why not? I can always repurpose it in a short story collection later on. Stay tuned – my next newsletter will include the link.
Considering New Distribution Channels
Over the next few months I’ll be adding Smashwords as a distribution channel. They’re an underdog retailer, but I love their good ethics and simple interface. If you like DRM-free books and want to support a retailer that treats authors and customers well, check them out.
I also looked into producing audiobooks, but unfortunately the ROI still isn’t there yet, I’d almost certainly be thousands of dollars in the hole. But Findaway Voices looks like an excellent distribution partner, so I’ll likely go with them if the costs ever pencil out. For that to happen, I’d need to increase my sales substantially.
Considering Kindle Unlimited
In general, I think that being exclusive with one retailer is a bad idea. It gives one retailer too much power over my business, it reduces consumer choice, and it contributes to the rise of monopolistic power in the marketplace. So why would I even consider putting a book into Kindle Unlimited? Perhaps because KU readers can be thought of as a specific audience, largely distinct from those who buy books one at a time. From what I hear, KU subscribers read voraciously, aren’t picky about trying new authors, and are open to shorter novels within certain genres. Could it make sense to write a new series geared toward KU readers, just like I might put together a consulting package for a specific business?
I feel very conflicted! I think a KU series might be a good business move, but I truly hate monopolistic power and I’d hate to contribute to it by participating in an exclusivity deal. This isn’t an urgent question (I have other books to finish, first), but drop me a comment if you have any thoughts to share.
Really, I’ve only got one big personal project, and it’s called IT’S SUMMERTIME, MOFOS! (Lol) All that means is that I’m enjoying family time, city hikes, stacks of books, and probably too much good TV.
Anyway, that’s what I’m up to. What are you working on?