> When Ann Patchett is asked a slew of personal questions during an interview about her new book of personal essays, is that on point, or off topic? And is it gender-related? Laura Harrington weighs in on "The Sorry State of Author Interviews" at Beyond the Margins.
> Submittable seems to be the submission service of choice for literary journals, writing contests, anthologies and other writing-based projects (I use it as both a writer and editor, and have always been pleased). Now, an Indiegogo campaign is underway for a possible future competitor, Submittrs.
> Ah, the EM dash, just about my favorite form of punctuation. C.S. Lakin explains.
> Sublime: Sonya Huber, with an especially insightful, spot-on second person essay, "Your Book is Taking a Long Time to Write." I especially love: " You open the file of the draft, which is now named with the book’s fourth or fifth title, which is sometimes named “final” or “new final” or “newest” or appended with a number like 6 or 8." And: "You are dragging your fingers slowly in the water with this book as the canoe of your instinct skimming across the surface. You will get there when it is right."
> Literary Manhattan explores many of the city's resources and places that appeal to book lovers, writers, readers.
Have a great weekend!
My son wants to join the tennis team this spring, so
to get back in shape, he's signed on for a series of weekly two-hour evening lessons.
And I cannot wait, because at the huge tennis bubble, there is lousy cell reception, and from
what I can deduce, no wifi.
I found out for myself, the minute he went through
from the viewing area to the courts and I pulled out my phone to let my husband
know where we were. I soon noticed: no one on phones--not bored parents,
not teenagers awaiting rides or their turn on the courts, not younger kids
hanging about while siblings swung rackets, not employees. Even the
television was on a low volume.
That was last week, and I was grateful to pass the
time mostly talking with another mom, something that doesn't happen so often
beyond the middle school years. I wandered around the building a bit, but
there's nothing much to explore -- a small tennis shop, a gym
surprisingly empty and quiet, a closed hair salon.
This week, I have something else in mind: I'm going
to read. Maybe for two hours. And no one will email, ding, ring, tweet, or
message me. Well, they might, but I won't know; not unless I make the long walk
back to the dark, cold parking lot – and I'm not that much in love with technology.
I might write some too, given as I always have a
notebook in my purse, but I've been craving a long reading stretch, somewhere away from the
background buzz of undone household chores, unedited client pages, to-be-commented-on
student papers—and the cooking and laundry (always the cooking and laundry!). I remember having these almost enforced
unfilled time blocks more frequently when my sons were younger and there was
more time spent on sports fields and car pool lines, in church basements, indoor
soccer bubbles, and waiting areas. Now, they are hard to come by naturally, harder still to schedule.
I'm not sure yet what I'll bring besides a few unread sections of the print Sunday
New York Times, though the choices are plentiful. On my desk are a poetry collection and an ARC of a memoir, both
to be read in advance of interviewing the authors (sounds like work but mostly pure pleasure), an anthology of short essays I've been dipping into, a novella I've been meaning to reread, and fat new novel, beckoning.
The best part is that the lessons will go on for
weeks and start just early enough in the evening that my husband won't be home yet, so I'll be chauffeuring. Now, let's hope no one at the tennis center decides it will be a good idea to rectify
the signal "problem".
Photo by HoriaVarlan/Flckr Creative Commons
I met Jennifer
Walkup for the first time at
a gathering at The Writers Circle in northern New Jersey, where we both teach, and was
immediately drawn to her warm humor and generous spirit. She is the author of Second Verse, a young adult romantic thriller (Luminis Books 2013), winner
of the Gold 2013
Moonbeam Children's Book Award for Teen Mystery. Jennifer's work has also
appeared in Genre Wars Anthology, and Gloom Cupboard, and she serves as fiction editor for The Meadowland Review. A fellow New Jersey resident, she lives with her
husband and two sons, and is at work on her next book.
Please welcome Jennifer Walkup.
There are two things I
blog about most – having babies
and writing books, which happen to also be the two most wonderful and difficult
things I’ve done in my life. Here are the top 11 ways I have discovered that having
a baby and being a parent, and writing and publishing a book, are eerily similar.
1. You're never done. Almost as soon as
you give birth, everyone asks when they can expect the next one. You’re barely
home from the hospital and Dear Aunt Martha is peering over her glasses asking
when the little bundle will have a sibling. Same for books and readers. At
every book signing, at least one person asks about the next book. I do love that
people are interested in my books and my babies, but can I breathe? Anyway, it takes me a bit longer to write a
book than have a baby – but I am most certainly always at work on my next (book
2. You think you're done for good. Speaking of doing it again – there’s something
curious about both books and babies. After delivering either one, it’s nearly
impossible to imagine going through it all again. By the time I’m on my last
draft of a book, I’m looking forward to a break, letting my mind rest. I’m also
usually exhausted and swearing I can’t go through this process again. But then,
soon enough, there I am, opening a blank document. Same goes for babies. I am a classic example
of this. My older son wasn’t even two before I starting yearning for another.
And as for writing, I can’t stop. At this moment, my latest draft of the Second
Verse sequel is out with my trusted beta readers for one last critique before
turning it over to my editor. This was going to be my take-a-break-from-writing
time. But guess what I did this weekend? Yep, 5k words on a new novel. I can’t
help it, it’s what I love!
hurts. Childbirth and parenting – both are painful. Writing can be too.
Critique hurts, rejection hurts, reading through and revising each and every
draft can be cumbersome and painful. BUT! There is good news indeed; the pain,
in both cases, is always, always worth every second.
work, work. The amount of work required
to get books or children into presentable shape is intense. Whether you’re a
two draft writer or a ten draft writer, it takes lots of practice, skill and
incredibly hard work to make a book a book. Same goes for kids, they don’t come
out knowing how to function and behave. And figuring both out is often trial by
fire – flying without a net.
5. And more work. Books and babies =
Sleepless night and lots of coffee.
a critic. Ah yes, book critics are a necessary part of the publishing
process, and sometimes if the right critic likes a book enough, it can help
launch or revive an author's career. As for parenting critics, there are plenty
of those too, though not nearly as useful!
not everyone is an expert. There are
way too many writing and publishing experts out there telling you how to do it
better or do it “right.” While there is often value in such advice, too much can
easily be overwhelming and stifling (and a lot of it is sometimes downright
wrong). With both writing and parenting, you sometimes need to just trust your
8. You will never be the same again. For
better and for worse, birthing a baby or birthing a book will leave you a
changed person. Both are incredible accomplishments that take a lot out of you,
and give a lot back as well. Life changers, through and through.
yours to theirs is futile. Some
other author, some other parent always seems to be doing it better or with more
ease. Comparisons are lethal and dangerous. Don't do it. Seriously. This is
some of the best advice I was ever given in life and I try and stick to it.
Keep your nose to the ground and work hard, learn as much as you can, hone your
craft, find your path and soak in all the knowledge. But don’t compare your book
to someone else’s, or your parenting path to another's. Some people get huge
advances, some people get an agent on the first try, and others write five or
10 books before they break out, or self publish, or land an offer from a small
press. Some kids walk and talk early and some don’t. It’s okay, just live your
fruit of your labor: pretty fabulous!
While the work is hard and relentless, it is beyond rewarding. For me, writing
books is very much like raising my kids—it's what fills me up and puts life in my
days, what make me whole.
11. Do your job well and poof, you're invisible.
Making it look easy is the goal. If you do a good job with either parenting or
writing, you end up with a smooth and seamless finished product – one that
seems to have sprung into perfect form with hardly any work on your part at all. Right.