Quote of the Day

“Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids. Just as simple as bringing them up.”Ursula K. Le Guin

In case you need a response for when people tell you that writing for young readers sounds easy, Le Guin’s got you covered.

Quote of the Day

“You ask whether I should continue to write if no one but myself would ever see my work. There is no reason to believe that anyone will ever see any more of my work…We are likely to give many incorrect explanations for what we do instinctively. It is very easy for me to say that I write poetry in order to formulate my ideas and to relate myself to the world. That is why I think I write it, though it may not be the right reason. That being so, I think that I should continue to write poetry whether or not anybody ever saw it, and certainly I write lots of it that nobody ever sees. We are all busy thinking things that nobody ever knows about.”-Wallace Stevens in a letter to editor Ronald Lane Latimer, from Letters of Wallace Stevens

We write because it’s what we do. We don’t write because it’s going to be published or win awards or get a million reviews. We write because we’re writers.

Quote of the Day

The Winding Path My Son Vietnam

Photo by Sacha Fernandez

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”Elizabeth Gilbert

I recently read Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which was just the book I needed. And I’ve been talking with friends in the arts recently about our fears and frustrations, and how success always seems so much easier for other people to achieve.

Gilbert’s quote above is a nice reminder that you can’t measure success by how many awards you win or how much you make on an advance or how many reviews you get, because no matter how many awards or how much money you get, you’re still not going to feel like a success . The work itself has to be the thing that keeps you moving down the path.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! I’ve had a good dose of creative connectivity this week, and I’m looking forward to even more creative time with my lovely crit group members over the weekend. In the meantime, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading and writing in fifteen words or fewer:

ReadingBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Encouraging, open, and conversational book about living as an artist. Definitely what I needed.

Writing: “You can’t sleep through my cross-country playlist,” TJ said. “It’s rhythmically impossible.”
Hoping to finish up with this pass of revision over the weekend; psyched to dive into something new, but I’m going to miss these characters (for the time being, at least).

Quote of the Day

“…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”–Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet

Links Galore

Lots of links I’ve been saving:

NaNoWriMo Highs and Lows

Last year I took part in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo and wrote 50,000 words of a new project. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, and I’m so glad I joined the challenge.

The beginning of the month brings a lot of enthusiasm, but sometimes the expectations of NaNo don’t match up with the realities. But the tough days don’t have to get you down! Take a look at this video I made about the NaNo highs and lows:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2I85O3Wjgs]

If you’re tackling NaNo this year, don’t worry about the bad days. Keep going, take breaks as needed, don’t worry about editing and let your creativity fly. You got this!

Attention MA Authors: Marketing and Bookstores Talk at the Writers’ Loft!

Allison PH flyer finalThese days, most authors have to finagle a lot of their own promotion. And unless you have a background in marketing, it can be difficult to figure out what’s worthwhile and who you should connect with and how you should plan for events.

That’s when you bring in the experts. Wednesday, July 22 (tomorrow!) friend, writer, and former bookstore event maven, Allison Pottern Hoch, is giving a talk at the Writers’ Loft about book marketing and working with local independent bookstores.

I’m excited to hear Allison’s advice and figure out ways I can better market my work and connect with the wonderful people at our local bookstores. Come on out and take notes with me!

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everyone! Tonight, I’ll be at Porter Square Books with a bunch of awesome YA authors, so come say hi, get some books signed, and chat with us about all things writing/reading.

And even if you’re not in the general Boston area, we can get the weekend rolling with a look at what I’ve been reading and writing in fifteen words or under:

ReadingFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Brought back lots of good first year of college feelings. Also dig a fandom story.

Writing: “Fortunately, we’re accepting volunteers for the secret project.”
Hijinks in the WIP!

The Season of Giving

The other day I was talking to my mom about the YA/children’s book community, and I mentioned how pretty much everyone I’ve met–from fellow writers to librarians to editors to readers–is awesome. People don’t tend to be snobby or petty or dismissive. Instead, the large majority of people I’ve met are warm and friendly and inclusive and generous. Maybe that’s because we’re writing for an audience that’s often not taken seriously and our work requires a little more sensitivity. Maybe that’s because other people in the literary world are easy to dismiss our work so we have to band together even more. Maybe that’s because we’ve found that it’s better to be supportive of each other than to knock each other down.

It’s especially evident online, where people will retweet friends’ exciting news or take a picture of a friend’s book in a bookstore. We read each other’s work and recommend it to our reading community. We share ideas for marketing, let each other vent, and remind each other that we’re not alone on this wild writing journey. It’s overall a very giving community, and one I’m so glad to be a part of.

I love cheering for my fellow writers. From best-selling authors to debut writers to writers who are still drafting their first novel, I love sharing my enthusiasm for their work and encouraging them and sharing writerly experiences with them.

I am, however, way less giving toward myself. If a writer friend is going through a hard time, I’d be quick to tell them, “It’s okay, take care of yourself, you don’t have to do all the work right now, the story will wait for you.” When it comes to myself, I’m way more likely to say “Dude, why can’t you get it together and finish the damn draft already? And why isn’t it perfect, it has to be perfect!” If a friend has exciting news to share, I will tweet and blog and Facebook all about it. Sharing my own exciting news feels weird and awkward and conceited. I think my friends are so smart and talented, but if someone asks me about writing, I say “Oh, well, this is just what works for me, what do I know?”

Sometimes it’s easier to be generous for others than it is to be generous for yourself. This quote by Marcia Hutchinson is about body image, but I think it totally applies to how we treat ourselves in general:

“If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, you’d have no friends left at all.”

Writing and publishing are hard and stressful and it’s easy to put pressure on yourself, especially about things you can’t control. But at the end of the day, you can’t write your best book if you’re not taking care of yourself. You’re a priority, too.

In this season of giving, let’s commit to talking to ourselves more like we talk to our friends. To supporting ourselves and taking care of ourselves and reminding ourselves that challenges are a part of life. To being enthusiastic for ourselves and our work. To being just as giving and kind and generous to yourself as you are to those around you.