Archive for September, 2009

Should Writers Read?

Nathan Bradford’s blog the other day raised an interesting question about whether or not most writers read much. Certainly time is always pressing and I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to, but I have used reading as a writing tool. In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion talked about how John Gregory Dunne would often read a novel several times “to see how it worked.” When I was working on my novel, I turned to my favorite in the middle grade-YA genre, Missing May by Cynthia Rylant, and charted the book out on a graph, showing where the various plot points occurred, when characters were introduced….the whole arc of the plot. It served as an invaluable roadmap  because I was, and still am, a novice at plot development for anything other than a short story. Even if my novel is never published, I have a greater appreciation for Rylant’s craft and a graph of Missing May that is real purdy.


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Blogs: My New Best Frenemy

Time wasters or jump starters? I go back and forth about blogs but in recent months I have found blogs both  inspiring (the ones about writing) and discouraging (those others … about the realities of publishing).  Writing blogs tend to free me up and are like a strong whiff of Vicks Vaporub when my muse is sniffling. (Wow…I can breathe again!) Publishing blogs, on the other hand, are like turning the corner in a foot race and seeing Mount Everest dead ahead (and no sherpa in sight). I have a love-hate relationship with those guys.  I have learned so much about the inside work of book publishing in recent months that, somedays,  I’m not even sure I WANT to climb that mountain. But on days that I know it’s time to put on my big girl writing pants, I check out the latest piece of hard-boiled advice, take a deep breath, and keep walking. Care to join me?

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