Sometimes I hear writers talk about blogging (and social media in general) like it’s a big chore, and how overwhelming it is, and how it’s a giant time suck. I feel really fortunate in that I genuinely enjoy blogging. I look at it as a fun and easy way to share cool things I find online with lots of people who may find them cool, too. And apparently I’ve come across a lot of cool things to share, because this is my 1000th post. Thank you to all my followers and readers for helping me get to this point. I know at least some of you aren’t spam-bots, and I’ve really appreciated your likes and comments. You guys are the best!
To celebrate reaching 1000 posts, I’m launching my brand-new author Facebook page. Because one good social media turn deserves another! Follow along for more fun links, photos, live Q&As, and (hopefully) hilarity. Right now I have up a few new author photos–that’s right, I am a human being and not just one profile picture!
Thanks again to my wonderful readers and followers. You keep me going, and I’m psyched to share another 1000 posts with you.
And of course it’s totally the wrong time to be sick. So apologies in advance for the probable blog silence this week.
Seriously, how am I not taking part in NaNoWriMo and still feel exhausted?
Two years ago, I was doing this:
Since then, we’ve gone on adventures, shared jokes and hilarious cat videos, and cooked lots of tasty meals. We’re both writers, so these two years have also included evenings in separate rooms, typing away. Sometimes people ask what it’s like to be married to another writer, and so far it’s working out pretty well for us. Here are my reasons why you should marry* a writer:
- Marry a writer because he knows that sometimes you need to go into the other room/a coffee shop/the library and not talk for a while, and that doesn’t mean you’re ignoring him.
- Marry a writer because she loves books and moving in together will mean expanding your home library. (Note: this means you need more bookshelves than you’ll think you need.)
- Marry a writer because he understands the anxiety of submitting work and the disappointment of receiving rejection letters.
- Marry a writer because she’ll brainstorm and talk seriously about your characters and plots with you.
- Marry a writer because he understands it’s a real job. Even if you need an additional day job to help pay for things like rent and food.
- Marry a writer because she won’t get weirded out by Google searches like “how long does it take for a body to decompose?” and “arsenic poisoning symptoms.”
- Marry a writer because he’ll join you at readings and book signings.
- Marry a writer because she’ll put you in her book acknowledgments.
- Marry a writer because he’ll spend hours with you at a bookstore and not ask “can we go now?” every ten minutes or side-eye that pile of books you’re going to buy.
- Marry a writer because she knows that sometimes revising takes priority over vacuuming or making something other than cereal for dinner.
- Marry a writer because he won’t get offended if you have to squeeze in some writing time during holidays.
- Marry a writer because she can remind you that, even when the writing is hard, you need to keep going because you’re a writer.
- Marry a writer because you’ll get to read/hear his work and feel so proud that the person you love makes amazing art.
But most importantly, you should marry someone who supports you and your writing. Who knows that this is your passion and your work, and loves that this is a major part of who you are. I know lots of people think pain and suffering makes good art, but I’m inclined to think that love and support are at the top of the list.
*And my “marry” I mean “share your heart with.” Forget traditional gender roles and structures.
The last few weeks have been stressful and busy, and the next few weeks are going to be much the same. Which means I feel like:
Even things I enjoy, like writing, feel like a chore:
I recently came across this quote from Susan Orlean on writing, which seems particularly helpful when I’m stressed and when the writing is hard:
“You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.”
It’s easy to love writing when the words are flowing and you have the time to focus on your craft. But sometimes you have to remind yourself that you love it and that it’s worth it, even if you only get a few words down at a time.
So if you’re having a rough time and feel like the words aren’t flowing, try to remind yourself that you love writing, even when it’s hard and you feel like you can’t get anything on paper. Loving writing when it’s hard is when you’re at your most writerly.
At Limebird Writers, Kate has a great post about when you know you’re a writer and if that affects your writerly journey. She makes the point that, for some, it’s not something you decide to do and can really plan a career for. I especially like:
“Sometimes, writers don’t even decide to be writers. Rather, we accidentally fall in love with storybuilding. Forget planning futures and budgets and retirement. We are so rip-roaring drunk on words that we can’t tear ourselves away long enough to think logically, rationally.
For those of us who are writers long before we recognized the symptoms, how could we possibly prepare ourselves in advance? No wonder I didn’t have a mentor. No wonder I didn’t keep my early stories. Should I really be surprised? I didn’t know what I was! I didn’t know I was already on my quest.”
Like Kate, I didn’t know I was a writer just because I liked making up stories. I thought everyone liked making up stories! Of course I filled marble notebooks with characters and the first page or two of stories that were blatant knock-offs of whatever you were reading at the time–that’s what everyone did in their spare time, right? Eventually I realized that writing (or reading) wasn’t something everyone did for fun and found that it was something people got to do as a career. What could be cooler than that?
And even though I studied English literature and creative writing, that doesn’t mean you need to do the same to be a writer. Like Kate says in her post, there aren’t specific guidelines or paths for writers in the same way there are for doctors or lawyers. Being a writer means a million different things to a million different people. But for most of us, part of it means that need to share stories that you’ve always felt.
Make sure to check out the full post.
This weekend I finally got around to updating my site, and I’m really digging it so far. A few changes:
- An updated About section, including links to interviews and more general info about me. (Do I like nail polish? Secrets revealed!)
- A Books page, aka your one stop-shop for info on The Chance You Won’t Return.
- The Blog is its own page now, which I think makes things a little cleaner.
Hope you enjoy all the new content! Let me know if things look weird or if links aren’t working. And don’t worry–even though the site has a shiny new look, you can still expect all the same fun bookish content you know and (hopefully) enjoy.
On McSweeney’s, a touching piece by John Hodgman, delivered at a literary reading shortly after September 11, 2001. Definitely read the whole piece, but one part that particularly struck me:
“So if art cannot contain or describe this event, and if for now the suffering is too keen to be alleviated by parable… if stories are for the moment not as critically needed, as courage, as medicine, as blood, as bacon, they can at least revert to this social function. As time goes on, this will all pass away into memory, into a story with a beginning and a middle and finally an end. And that transition from the real into fable will bring its own kind of comfort and pain.”
It’s been twelve years since that day, and I like this idea of the transition to stories being needed. It’s hard to comprehend tragedy, especially in the moment, but as we move further and further away from the event itself, stories become more relevant. Memories become story and stay with us and transcend the individual. That means dealing with both the good and the bad, or “comfort and pain,” both of which are needed through the passing years.
Also, School Library Journal suggests resources for 9/11.
Today I join the ranks of Grumpy Cat, old episodes of 80s television shows you probably didn’t watch, and scores of people drinking Diet Coke and eating Mentos–I have my first video! That’s right, I’m not just a disembodied hand typing away at a keyboard. Check out the video below, in which I answer questions about writing, plotting, and where to find good pizza:
Special thanks to Mary, Ghenet, and Stephanie for their wonderful questions! Tune in next time for more writerly video fun.
Sometimes on Twitter I’ll see fellow writers post things like “1k down and it’s not even 10am! Not a bad morning,” and “Finally hit 60k on this manuscript!” and “Trying to eek out another 5k this weekend.” When writing, word counts can be a good way to keep track of the work you’ve done and the work you have left to do. It’s satisfying to see those numbers creep up and get you closer to a complete story.
Confession: I don’t do word counts.
If you asked me, “Annie, how many words is The Chance You Won’t Return?” I’d get all shifty-eyed and say, “Oh, um, like 80? 80k? That’s a number, right?” And really, I can only estimate that from when I was adding my word count to my queries. My current WIP? I honestly have no idea what that word count is. I think I’m about a third of the way through the story, but I have no idea what that means for how many words will end up on the page.
I can totally see how keeping word counts and setting word count goals is a fantastic way to keep motivated and have a better sense of how your novel is growing. But I get more motivated by seeing sections done and by knowing that the scene that’s been in my head for a while is finally written. Maybe it’ll take a hundred words or maybe it’ll take ten thousand. To me, the actual word count doesn’t mean anything in relation to what I’ve put on the page.
The first time I saw people reference word counts in relation to their own writing routine, I thought there was something wrong with me. Should I be keeping track of how many words I write when I sit down with my WIP? How much is enough? What’s normal? Aren’t 5ks road races?! But I’ve come to learn that it’s okay if I don’t track my progression by word count. It doesn’t mean I’m not getting work done or that I’m not as professional as other people. It just means that I have a different process. And with writing, there are so many different processes you can use to keep working. Don’t feel pressured to hit 2k on a given day just because someone else on Twitter has. Do what works for you and your story. Make your words count–no matter how many of them are on the page.
(image: Willi Heidelbach)
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!