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Monday, July 30, 2007

A Space of One's Own

My article, "A Space of One's Own: Teen Lit, MySpace and You," hits the streets in the July/August issue of the SCBWI Bulletin - it was supposed to be a complimentary article to one on podcasts, written by friend and fellow author Sara Easterly, but instead appears in the same issue as a beautiful article, "Phoenix Rising," by another author friend, Molly Blaisdell, on how death drives stories forward. Handled by a less talented, nuanced writer, the topic could be maudlin - but through her eyes, such territory seems brave and hopeful. Molly had a dream once that she and Sara came to visit me together. She called Sara, and together they came, bringing me a pillow that I still keep on my couch. That story always reminds me: dreams are a gift, but we must choose to act on them.

Speaking of acting, I joined a bevvy of teen lit authors for 100 Days of 100 Words, in which I will complete the first 10K words of my CREED draft. Yippee! At this point I have two (or less) writing days per week, so I try to cram all 700 of those words into my official writing days. It doesn't sound like much, but when you are just starting to build a house and have only a vague idea of where the parts will go, it's huge. My goal today: 1000 (um, right after I finish this blog).

I thought, somehow, that starting a new book would be easier than it was the first time. Ha! Rather, I find myself wherever I go, and my process this time looks quite a bit like it did last time - plenty of puttering, lots of note-writing, musing, and worrying - though, blessedly, without the spirit-crushing fear that I'm not capable of finishing. I know now that I am. I'm blocking out a newer fear: can I do it again? I don't know for sure, but I will try.

A couple of blogging friends have written about this lately - Jay Asher (whose awesome book, Thirteen Reasons Why, comes out in a little over two months!) has been talking about the pressure of writing a second book when the first one has had such a sweeping reception so far (and for my two cents, it's worth it). And the aforementioned Molly Blaisdell wrote something in her blog that has been particularly resonating with me this week:

I like my books, but I find that everything I write is hopelessly flawed -- a little like the writer. My storytelling is flawed with my own way of thinking. I always circle around ideas until I finally find a place to land. My deepest hope is my words will bring my readers to what I meant to say. I find that when communicating with others misunderstandings abound. I'm going to continue to stumble foward and hopefully find my way through the maze to connection.
When reading someone's first book or second or tenth, it's hard to believe other authors have these kinds of doubts. I was having a huge attack of stage fright when sending my manuscript out, and my author friend Peggy King Anderson sent me the following quote, from Jane Yolen:
I know NO writers of fiction who aren’t assailed by the monsters of doubt along the way.
And that's Jane Yolen - beloved, prolific, astonishing. And, as Molly says of herself, hopelessly flawed. Luckily, each of us are hopelessly flawed in unique, personal ways. As my author friend Dawn Knight says, "It's the grit that makes the pearl." These are our writing gifts - flawed, luminescent pearls that we hope to cast into the world as nuggets of hope.


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