So You Write: A webcomic about being a writer

Published June 10, 2012 by swankivy

This is my webcomic about being a writer.  It’s very silly, with autobiographical details about my life as a writer and what sorts of things we creative types deal with while interacting with the outside world.

There is no update schedule planned; I’ll add a new one whenever I feel like it.  It’d be too demanding for me to try to keep this one regular too since I already have another webcomic that has been updated every Friday since May 20, 2005.

Please send me a message if you’d like to leave private feedback or ask questions about any of my projects.

Happy For You

Published February 28, 2023 by swankivy

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Sometimes it is hard to have a parallel struggle with someone else and watch them shoot past you when you used to be, I don’t know, peers. But even if I wish my success had been similar to someone I was on even ground with once upon a time, I can’t seem to spin it into proper jealousy. I’m glad they did so well and they deserved to. (A lot of people deserve to who never will be at the right place at the right time for it to happen, and that’s very frustrating, but all they–and we–can do is persevere.) I love seeing ridiculously good things happen to people I know, so close to home, and knowing that’s out there–that’s real–it’s not a one-in-a-million occurrence or a thing that only happens on TV. Whether it does or could ever happen for me isn’t really related to how I feel about them. (Though I’ll be honest, it did sting a little when I saw the deal announcement from the very editor who had stalled for so long on answering my agent on MY trilogy. She ultimately rejected it. However, that does not mean it in any way turned into resentment for my author friend or toward that editor.) And though I haven’t become a household name for my writing (yet??), I do think it’s pretty special that I’ve been able to do some things tons of authors dream of doing–getting signed to an agent (I’ve done it successfully twice!), getting a book deal, winning some awards, and selling short fiction and other short pieces to paying markets. I’d love to go bigger and better, but I’m pretty happy with how well I’ve done too!

Worth the Effort

Published January 31, 2023 by swankivy

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It’s #140 so you get another long one!

And before anyone tries to eat me, I’m sure some people can cherry-pick times where cold-e-mailing someone who’s expressed no interest in reviewing for you has resulted in a sale or a review. As for me, I specifically state “do not contact me to ask me to review your book, even if it’s free” in my Amazon profile because I hate it so much. You at least want to avoid spamming people who have tried to opt out or whose information is gathered from places that explicitly forbid what you’re doing. For instance, sometimes you see authors commenting on Goodreads reviews of similar books trying to get readers to read theirs, and it’s very much against their policy! Don’t do this!

The secret lies in sharing your work with people who love to be excited about books. People who are there because they want to be. People who have asked for work like yours, or are happy to review it, or will be paid (by you) for their time. It’s very common for unprofessional products to be pushed through unprofessional tactics as well, so if you don’t want possibly interested people to look at your book and think it looks cheap or low quality, GET PROFESSIONALS (or at least other book people) INVOLVED IN VETTING YOUR STUFF. If your book is so important that you’re trying this hard to get it out there, it deserves the best resources you can find!

Accept the Unacceptance

Published August 31, 2022 by swankivy

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Well I guess I need to accept that I have no judgment whatsoever as to which of my stories are any good because this is 100% a true story. (I’m not kidding about 7 years and 27 rejections. And I’m not kidding that a story I didn’t even like when I wrote it got accepted to the first place I sent it. Why.)

A small caveat, I guess: I have somewhat high standards for where I send stories; I only approach markets with decent pay because I think that correlates well with a publication’s longevity, and I want the places I sell my work to to be around for a long time. So yeah, the story that keeps getting rejected is getting rejected from some competitive magazines. Maybe it’s not terrible? Somehow?

Then what’s your explanation for the one that sold immediately, genius?

This is also the second time this happened


Published July 31, 2022 by swankivy

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Most people seem excited and happy when I have good news in the book world but I’m getting kinda sick of talking to people who make others’ moments about themselves. And here’s the thing: even if you’re thinking it, now isn’t the time; you’re not a bad person for being frustrated with your own situation or even jealous, but my advice if you’re struggling with this is to think about how you would like your pals to react when it’s your time, and then think about how awkward and crappy it will feel if they aren’t able to celebrate your joy because they’re raging that it’s not their turn. You can separately feel frustration or jealousy or anything else in a different part of your brain from the genuine happiness you feel for someone who’s gotten good news, and those thing can coexist–but preferably not in the form of what you choose to say in the moment.


Published June 30, 2022 by swankivy

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In addition to writing the screenplay yourself and having no other decision-makers on board who will have any creative control, you’ll also have to direct so you can control the actors’ delivery, be the casting director, and be in charge of costuming and staging if you want the movie to be an exact cut-n-paste from your imagination. None of that is practical, but that’s not the point: my real point is that you shouldn’t make your narrative suffer so you as the author can micromanage every aspect of how the reader imagines your world and its people. Give them some freedom to imagine it themselves if a detail is not vital for some other reason, and learn to be okay with it if the picture in someone else’s mind doesn’t match yours.

That said, there’s a varying level of tolerance/preference for flowery descriptions and detail, so what one beta reader recommends about your description preferences isn’t a law or anything.


Published May 31, 2022 by swankivy

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I get lost easily. I’m not so good at following written directions. It’s very hard for me to figure out what path makes sense to get me from Point A to Point B.

But with writing, I usually don’t even know the Point B when I start at Point A. So looking at a map would be pretty useless if I don’t actually know before I start where I’m planning to go.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with choosing a destination (and a few stops along the way). If I’m sure I definitely want to go there.

But honestly, being a pretty hardcore pantser, the route AND the destination are typically chosen by the characters in the car, and a road trip that’s supposed to feel planned by them will end up feeling planned by ME if I give them a GPS with preprogrammed directions speaking up and breaking into their conversation every few miles. I feel like I’m trying to sit in the backseat with them when I’m not a character. I have trouble making it feel authentic if I’m not creating the story from within their perspective as it’s happening.

That road is DEFINITELY prone to becoming long and winding when you haven’t chosen the destination. And I guess I’ve accepted that. But sometimes I still wonder if I’d ever be able to outline a book and be happy with the results. . . .