Monday, March 29, 2010

Secret Life

Sometimes it feels like the writing life is a sort of secret one. Not in the typical sense--everyone I know is aware that I write, and more than half of them know that I do it in the morning--but more in the By Necessity sense.

What I mean is, writing is an incredibly private endeavor by nature. Not only is it something most people do in solitude, but it also removes the writer into something so distant from the minds of everyone else in the world that, until the work is read, the writer dwells independently in that space with no living soul to share it with. How odd it is to think that somewhere between the hours of five and ten each morning, I depart this world and enter another for at least a short time... and no one except me ever knows the difference.

Even odder to imagine how often such a thing happens each day across the world. Just have a look at the writing community on Twitter, and you'll constantly see little waves of farewell from writers who are diving out of the universe into a place of their own creation, disappearing from the world for a spell. And if you watch long enough, you'll see them announce their reemergence, brimming with emotion, eager to share what they've just experienced.

And I think that's what drives so many of us to seek out publication. Because when you have stories, you want to share them.

Granted, writing isn't a sacrifice, and it isn't necessarily a curse, but many who are driven to write begin to feel saddled by the responsibility after a while. Just for once, we think rather dismally, I'd like to enter a room and not immediately begin scanning it for elements of story. Just for once, I'd like to have a spare bit of time with absolutely nothing to do--no stories pressing to escape onto a page, no little edits to do, no frenzied searching for an agent who might represent me if appealed to with precisely the right combination of words. Just for once, I'd like to have someone else experience what I'm experiencing right along with me. Just for once, I'd like someone to come with me into this solitary world of narrative creation.

But then we remember why we do what we do: because, despite everything, we love to write more than anything else on this earth. Because the act of writing makes us come alive. And because, in the core of our being, we believe that what we write is somehow worthwhile to the world we live in. And we want to see it learn to fly.

"Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you."

-David Whyte

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why I Write YA

“You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.” -Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cloud Nine: the hazy, dreamy state, not the stripclub

I'm in a sort of drifting fog this morning, and it has nothing at all to do with having just woken up.

The Reason: I feel as though my Life in Words--that is, my writing career--is finally starting to make progress. I discovered last night that my YA novel Ephemeral has progressed to the third round (or quarterfinals) of the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest, and that in this approaching round, my entire manuscript will be read and reviewed by representatives from Publishers Weekly. Which sounds as good as a grand prize, to me.

Of course, the actual grand prize is publication and a contract with Penguin, but only one YA writer out of the 250 left will take home that golden egg. And I'm not enough of a bighead to expect that it will be me. But Publishers Weekly? The entire effing manuscript??


Meanwhile, I've been blinking stupidly at the review posted on my book's Amazon site, by the Amazon Vine Reviewer who read my excerpt in the last round:

"I'm enchanted by this piece. It's a true standout among many very good entries. I wish the author the best of luck, as this vibrant and luminous writing deserves to be read far and wide. Beaute's situation is presented artfully, and her sisters, while less than perfect, are not made out as completely evil and one dimensional. This tale looks to be far more intriguing than any cartoon version."

For a girl who has been dreaming of being a Real Writer since the tenth grade, and who has spent the last two years scrabbling and fumbling, scratching and clawing in a desperate attempt to make it into the vast world of the Book Market, this feels like seven Christmases lumped into one. Who knows if anything will come of it, but for now I will continue to gaze starrily at my name and title on Amazon, and view this as a moment of success in the course of a long and arduous journey.

And after all, "It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." -Ursula K. LeGuin