Friday, April 21, 2017

Writing Advice from Authors

Five Facts of Fiction:

“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.” 

— Madeleine L'Engle

“I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.”
-- Ann Patchett

"Because of an email from a friend who just finished his first YA novel, bemoaning the fact that he felt sad, not happy with getting to the end. “It feels like a bereavement,” he said.
Instead of answering him with there-there’s, I wrote this:
I always have post-partum depression when a book is finished. Partly due to "Now baby goes out into the world" nervousness; and partly "Now what can I work on?" fears, and partly: "I dreamed of an eagle, gave birth to a hummingbird" (Edith Wharton quoting an old French saying.)
And of course not to forget the: What if there is nothing more in me? maunderings.
Somehow relief, joy, congratulations are not part of the package.
I remember years ago being at Eric Carle’s house. While everyone else was chatting, I snuck off to his studio where he sat, head in hands, bewailing the fact that he was never going to have a book idea again in his life. I tried to chivvy him out of his grief but he was having none of it.
When I went back to the living room and told his wonderful wife Bobbi that I was worried about him, she laughed. “He does this at the end of any book project,” she said. “A week of mourning, and then he’ll clean up his already immaculate studio and get back to work on this next one. Ignore him.”
Luckily, I’d identified those same tendencies in myself early on. It’s nothing more than the baby blues, sudden loss of adrenaline, and an ongoing worry that one has peaked and there’s nothing left.
Note to self and other authors—there is ALWAYS something left." -- Jane Yolen

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