"Every time I mention to someone that I want to go into publishing they pat me on the back and give me this ‘I’m sorry your cat died’ look of pity and it’s becoming harder and harder to remain optimistic. Is the publishing industry really on its way out, or is there still hope for us bookworms?"
Yes, absolutely. Maybe I’m a fool, but I don’t think the book business—and especially the business of editing—is going to disappear.
That said, it’s going to change. Change is inevitable, and I’ve already seen seismic shifts over the course of my own career. Adaptation and evolution is the only way (in biology and books) not to disappear.
The question is HOW we change. That’s a choice we all make together: writers and publishers and readers.
Personally, I’m flummoxed by the idea that MORE books (we already have way too many) and LESS curation is the salve we need.
We all love books and we deserve to have the best that books can offer. Things are going to change, but I do believe you have the power to say how.
Mary Ruefle, “A Minor Personal Matter” (via invisiblestories)
So flattering—I’ve gotten a few emails lately and now this question here, and I just want to say thank you for wanting to take a YA writing class with me. Last year and the year before I taught some online YA novel writing classes with Mediabistro.com, but I don’t have any plans at the moment to teach another online workshop with them in 2014. Sorry about that!
I do have two weeklong in-person workshop & retreats with me at an artists colony in California, but both sessions (February and June 2014) are full. Spaces are limited due to housing.
If you are considering going to to New England SCBWI workshop in Springfield, MA, in May, I will be on faculty there, and will be leading two sessions: a “Killer First Chapters” workshop and a talk about first-person voice. I will also be a special guest at the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop in September led by amazing authors and teachers Nancy Werlin and Sarah Aronson.
If any new teaching opportunities pop up—especially for online classes—I will be sure to make announcements on my website and blog appearances pages, which you can find here.
Thank you so much for wanting to take a class from me. I wish you all the best of luck with your writing!
Oh, fellow writers. So, while I work on the revision of what will be my fourth published novel (my sixth written novel, and none of this is counting any of the work-for-hire novels I’ve ghostwritten), I look up and keep seeing this ugly face in the mirror.
I thought, by now, now I’m writing book #4, surely, surely I’d have vanquished it by now. But no.
The funny, though not really ha-ha, thing I’ve learned as my career as an author moves on is that the doubts don’t go away. In fact, I could swear that they are all the more heavy on my shoulders and heavy-breathing in my ear than they ever were when I was first starting out, and surely before I published.
Before I published, I had no idea what would happen in the “real world” once my books hit the shelves. (If they even did.) If I got so lucky, would my books be despised, lauded, ignored, used as a stepstool to climb up and get a better book? All of the above, it turns out, but when you are in that place in your career when you don’t yet know, when the road before you is hazy and fogged up and could lead anywhere at all… Well, anything could happen.
I felt oddly positive back then. I had doubts, sure, but I also had so much blind hope. So many dreams. So much possibility.
Now here I stand with the third book—17 & Gone—out last spring and due to come out in paperback this March, and my fourth book—The Walls Around Us—getting closer and closer to what I want it to be as I work through this revision. And while I do look at my pages and realize I’ve learned so much and have gotten better as a writer, I find myself doubting so much more often than I did before my first book—Dani Noir—and then my first true book of my heart—Imaginary Girls—came out. The doubts are now something I war with every single morning as I sit down to write.
I look ahead now and I see the road. I see all the turns in the road. All the potholes. All the steep hills and the far drops. I don’t want to drive that road.
In truth, as we all know, I can’t really see ahead to the road (none of us can see the future to what will happen when our books come out, it’s always a mystery), but because I’ve been on the road a few times by now, I think I know what to expect and it’s coloring everything I’ve yet to experience.
It’s damning. I wish I could pluck some of my old innocence back and just write away, lalala. And yet, I’ve also learned so much from my previous experience and I want to build on that and grow.
The truth is, you only get one (possibly two, as I did in a way, because not too many people knew about Dani Noir, and it was middle-grade) chances at a debut.
I tell myself that, in a way, each new book is a new shot and a new chance at being the best you can be… But I also know that, in a way, each new book after the first one is jumbled up with what happened before. You can’t truly separate yourself, even if you change your name. (Sometimes I wonder about that.) Readers remember. Publishers remember. Bookstores remember. And you remember.
I think all of that has only made me doubt MORE. How is it possible to have learned so much, to have gained confidence as a writer and at the same time lost it and question everything?
I’m beginning to see that this is just a natural part of the publishing process for some of us. It’s a piece of this job. So now the job grows to include ways of getting past this.
So each morning when I sit down at the café table to write, I have to make the daily effort to sweep the doubts away. I don’t look in the mirror at the monster. I avoid picturing the road ahead. I try very, very hard to think nothing about the after.
I have to think only of the here-and-now, which is all any of us can control anyway. The here-and-now of writing this draft at this café table this morning.
My ways to cure creeping doubt include:
Fellow writers, those of you who share my affliction, help me out here: What cures your writing doubts and how do you face down your doubt monster?
Inspiration isn’t what gets your book written. Discipline is.
Inspiration is fickle: it shows up when you least expect it, all sexy and exhilarating and reminding you why you put your butt in that chair and turned off Tumblr and forced yourself to trudge through the valley of no-good, very-bad first drafts. Enjoy that inspiration while it’s there. Enjoy it thoroughly because it is rare and precious.
Just don’t expect it to show up every day. The only thing that needs to show up every day is yourself—and your determination to see this through to the very end.