A Community of Artists

Once is a touching movie about musicians and art and connection. It’s now a stage musical, and recently the touring company invited amateur musicians in to sing “Falling Slowly” with them.

Walt shared the video with me this morning, and it got me kind of teary, seeing all these musicians of all ages and backgrounds and levels of professional status in the same space, sharing their art and making something wonderful together as a little community.

Writing and publishing as a career can be hard. But one thing I’m always grateful for–the people. I’m so grateful to be part of a community of writers and readers and librarians and educators and bloggers and fans. From across the world, from all kinds of backgrounds, from major bestselling authors to first draft-ers, from experienced bloggers to people who have just found YA, it’s uplifting and exciting to share our stories and our experiences, either in person or online.

So no matter where you are in your writing journey or your reading life, thank you for being part of this community. Your voice matters.

Awards and Hoverboards: Expectations of Your Writing Future

It’s October 21, 2015. Welcome to the future, everyone!

Okay, so no hoverboards for the masses yet, and our 80s-inspired clothes look a little different. But today’s Back to the Future festivities did get me thinking about the future and expectations.

As writers, it’s easy to build up expectations and ideas of success. You put a lot of time and effort into a given project, and you hope that time and effort will be rewarded by a agent offering representation, or a book deal, or an award, or a movie, or a place at the top of the best-seller list. You set deadlines for yourself–finish a draft by X date, query by Y, get an agent by Z. Surely in twenty years, you’ll be at ALA, accepting your Printz award from atop your hoverboard, right?

At last year’s retreat in Tennessee, someone (I think it was Tessa Gratton) mentioned that “at some point, everything in publishing will happen to you.” From getting a book deal to getting a book pushed back to getting a book cancelled; from rejections to sales at auctions; from tons of marketing support and movie deals to seeing a book just like yours make a huge splash while yours falls flat–the good and the bad all happens at some point. No matter what you do or how hard you work, you can’t control the whole process.

So what does that mean for the future of your writing career? Don’t focus on the hoverboard. Forget the movie deals, the sales at auction, the awards ceremonies. Focus on the part you can control–writing the best work you can. Even if you can’t predict the future, you’ll know that you made the very best book you could.

As Doc Brown said: “Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”

Links Galore

Lots of links to start your week:

Links Galore

A few good links to get you through the day:

I See (Writer) Pride

Sometimes being a writer is tough. We have to deal with constant rejection and, even when we are successful, we don’t really know what the future will bring. So today, I want to share one of my favorite movie inspiration moments:

Whenever you feel like quitting, remember Junior and Yul Brenner. Now let’s get out there and write!

Links Galore

A few more links for your afternoon:

Read Outside Your Genre, Eat Chocolate, and Other Writing Advice from Joss Whedon

Frequent readers of this blog will know that I’m a big Joss Whedon fan. Buffy started during my formative years and it definitely helped me figure out how to grow up and face the weirdness of middle and high school. What better person to get writing advice from than the man who makes TV shows/movies/videos that give me all the feelings?

My Whedon feelings.

This interview with Whedon has lots of fantastic advice about the writing and creating process. Even though Whedon mostly speaks to screenwriting and movie-making, I think it all still applies to writing fiction. We always hear “read a lot” as writerly advice, but I particularly like Whedon’s take on making sure to expose yourself to a lot of books/movies:

“Constantly watch things and things you don’t [normally watch]. Step outside your viewing zone, your reading zone. It’s all fodder but if you only take from one thing then it’ll show…I read The Killer Angels. It’s a very detailed, extraordinarily compelling account of the Battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of various people in it and it’s historical. It’s historically completely accurate, and the moment I put it down I created Firefly, because I was like, ‘I need to tell this story. I need to feel this immediacy. I so connect with that era, the Western and how tactile everything is and how every decision is life or death, and how hard it is and how just rich it is, and how all the characters are just so fascinating.’ But so I should be on the Millennium Falcon. Now, if I only watched sci-fi I would have just had the Millennium Falcon part, which has already been done, but finding that historical texture, it literally, I put the book down and started writing Firefly.”

How cool is that? And it makes so much sense–if you only read things within your category or genre, you’re not expanding your potential inspiration to anything that hasn’t already been written for your readers. Not that you should skip reading within your genre–I hope that if you write YA, you also enjoy YA–but it’s a great reminder to look outside of that sphere of influence. So often I feel like I have so many awesome YA titles on my to-read list that I don’t tend to as much adult fiction or non-fiction or poetry as I’d like. This seems like an excellent reason to dive into a few non-YA titles I always have on the back burner.

Make sure to click through for the rest of this excellent interview–if only because Joss also advocates the use of chocolate as writing fuel. Yeah. Dude’s a genius.