As you may have noticed, we have some "new" smiling faces here at Write1Sub1. Please join me in welcoming Devin Miller to the team as a fellow site administrator. You'll be seeing his name more often next year as he joins the monthly rotation, moderating Write1Sub1's posts and updates. Check out Devin's bio on our "About Us" page to learn more about him, and be sure to visit his blog.
W1S1: How long have you been a W1S1er, and what induced you to start?
Devin: I started W1S1 in 2012, so two years. I did the weekly challenge then and the monthly challenge in 2013. I wanted to start it because I felt like I needed a jump-start in my writing, a fire lit beneath me, something to commit to and a reason to have to show up at the keyboard. Being part of W1S1 made me feel obligated to write, and my productivity skyrocketed. Also, I wanted to get to know other writers in the digital world and see how I fit in among them.
W1S1: What have you appreciated the most about this challenge?
Devin: The best part about the challenge is the feeling of accomplishment when you realize how much work you did after a given amount of time--a month, six months, or the whole year. When you're in the middle of it, it feels a bit like walking through quicksand--the word is trudging. But afterwards, there's no getting around it--you're a writer. You started with nothing and now you have something. I had a lot of ideas for stories that I thought were too daunting or over my head at the time, but I wrote them anyway because I had to write something. And you know what? They turned out okay. And I'm better for writing them.
W1S1: How has W1S1 affected your writing?
Devin: W1S1 had the immediate impact of expanding the library of stories I've written, and I think with every word you write you get a little bit better. My 2012 stories varied a lot, from flash to novellas, because I couldn't always finish a long story in a week and had to make up the difference with something short. I got the feel of how a story should sound in short form vs. longer form, so that was one cool thing. Another is that I almost never had a plot planned out to write a story because I simply didn't have the time to bother--so W1S1 taught me to trust that the words would come and to simply start with a situation or scene and run with it.
W1S1: What keeps you motivated to write?
Devin: I love stories. I love reading them and watching them and writing them. Every story I read gives me ideas for scenes or stories of my own, and nothing excites me like writing a new story I think is good. They get to bouncing around in my head and can be rather insistent if I ignore them for too long, and relief comes only once I've done the work. If you've read Harry Potter, I've always thought the pensieve was a metaphor for writing, the way Dumbledore takes crowding thoughts out of his head and puts them in a bowl. Writing for me is like that, at times. But at the heart of it it's that I simply love stories.
W1S1: Inquiring minds want to know: What's been your best/worst rejection?
Devin: My worst rejection, if you can call it that, came in college as part of a writing class my junior year. We wrote three stories and put them online for the class to read and critique before we met to discuss them. I wrote something I knew would inflame people, mostly for fun but also because it was WAY outside my comfort zone--a horror story about this guy and girl being tortured by some crazy lady. It was a stupid plot idea and not well-written, but that was kind of the point. Anyway, there were ten things everyone was supposed to address, and I got a number of lists back except for this one guy who said he refused to talk about my "piece of shit" because it was so vulgar and insulting and crass . . . I wish I could remember exactly what he said. I've never had anyone say such hurtful things, and even though I didn't care about that story at all and just wrote it out of curiosity, his refusal even to comment on it stunned me.
My best rejection came a semester later, when I got my first and only personalized response from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The editor commented that he enjoyed the characterization of my protagonist, but overall the story wasn't up to snuff for the magazine. It was really maybe one line different from the form rejection, but I knew the form rejections very, very well, and knowing that he took a minute to type a difference into it was rewarding and rejuvenating.
W1S1: Glad to have you on board, Devin! W1S1 2014 is seriously going to rock.