Monday’s Writerly Quote

Whew! What an insane weekend. I feel so chock-full of good information I keep having to use pink, sparkly duct tape to keep my head from exploding. Storymakers was phenomenal and you’ll be hearing all about it over the next couple of weeks or so as I divulge notes that just may take your writing to pure awesomeness. (DISCLAIMER: How you use these notes is up to you, but pure awesomeness is one of the possible paths you can take with them.)

Also it was a success for me pitch-wise too. I got a full request on my novel SHADE and got to know another agent who gave me the a-ok to query. Hopefully one of them holds the news of the ever-anticipated, “I’d like you represent you.” Only time will tell.

What revising often feels like. Oh, and lift my X-Wing out of the swamp? No prob… I hope…

And in the meantime, I’m going to be doing insane amounts of revisions to apply all the good tidbits I learned at the conference so I can put my best manuscript forward. (NOTE: If an agent requests more at a conference, it’s perfectly okay to tell them you’d like a little time to apply what you’ve learned to your manuscript. They would prefer they got the best you can offer.)

But onto Monday’s quote. Our keynote speaker this year was Anne Perry, bestselling author of the William Monk series novels and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels—all detective novels set in Victorian England. (She’s even a winner of an Agatha Award.)

Her keynote address was phenomenal—well—more than phenomenal. I can only tell you it was the kind of address where you half question whether you can actually be listening to such a remarkable thing. Of course I’ll post some notes from it later, but one of my favorite parts:

Everything that you have experienced, write it the very best you can and share it with everyone you can. They may find at three in the morning you were the companion they were aching to hear from.

Wouldn’t we all love to be that companion in our writing? I can remember all too often feeling unwell or being unable to sleep during college and I had Harry, Ron, and Hermione to see me through those moments. Or being able to take strength from three orphans whose lives were far more unfortunate than my own.

Are you in this for fame or are you in this to really affect people? If it’s the latter, put all your effort into honing your craft and digging deep and putting your truth on the page. Write the very best story possible. Make that your goal and be that companion. If we do we’ll gain audiences who will always come back for more. That’s not to say it will be easy or that publishing it will be easy. But all of that effort will yield a lot of fruit, when it’s time.

What say you? Do you hope to be the ‘companion’ writer? How are you striving to hone your skills? What advice would you give to those just starting down the writing path?

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20 thoughts on “Monday’s Writerly Quote

  1. I’m in it for the fun and affecting people. I fully admit to grinning when I get the following message about my book:

    “I lost track of time and stayed up too late because your book wouldn’t let me go.”

    I’ve heard this about 5 times since I published and I’ve smiled every single time. To write a book that grips the reader and sucks them out of reality is one of my goals. That may sound a little more super-villain-y than I intended.

    I’m letting my skills develop as I move along. I don’t do anything specific besides talking shop with other authors and looking at stuff that I suddenly think of using. I’m always evolving, so I keep my mind open for information.

    For new authors, stay strong, keep writing, and never let the critics see you bleed.

    • Those would be the kinds of reviews I hope for in the future. What a great feeling, I’m sure. I think, like you said, it’s important to remember that as writers we’re constantly evolving. If not, we’ll probably never be great writers (or won’t be for much longer).

      • I do think the evolution slows a bit when a core style shows up. I’m noticing that my editing went down from 25-30 revisions to 5 since I spent an entire year editing three books without a real break. I’ve seen posts by long-established authors too that speak of hitting a style that makes the revision runs fewer. They don’t vanish, but the major overhauls are rarer. Working on a post this Wednesday about it once my head clears up.

        • Cool. Yeah, I don’t know that revisions are as extensive once you’ve gotten into the swing of things, but they will never disappear. Ever. But that’s okay. I like seeing how my novel evolves. 🙂 Looking forward to your post.

        • Thanks. Fully agree that they will (and shouldn’t) disappear. Even the great Stephen King needs to edit his work. I assume. He might just have a clone, evil shadow, or enslaved demons to do it for him.

  2. What a beautiful way to look at it. I know I’ve had a few books come to me at just the right time, and I’d love for my writing to be that for someone else. 🙂

    For new writers… read the tips, practice the advice, internalize the rules, and then stop thinking about them and write the story that’s in you. If you’re aware of the hows and you’ve been reading as much fiction as you should be, you’ve developed instincts. See where they take you.

  3. I never would have expected this, but I’ve personally found that hearing one good word about my book from a young person is worth a hundred good reviews from adults. Childhood and adolescence can be such a tough time in a person’s life. The idea that my story might offer them some sort of ‘companionship’; to hear a kid say that they really liked such-and-such or that so-and-so is their favorite character… It is rewarding in a way I never would have anticipated.
    Cool post, Jae. Gets you thinking about what really matters.

    • At the conference, I saw a very young girl excitedly pass her book to an author to have it autographed. Kids like her would be my favorite sorts of fans, although maybe with my current novel it’s material a little too dark for their age. I totally get what you’re saying. Not saying that we don’t want adult readers pleased, but there is something about knowing kids find something great in our stories. Thanks for sharing!

  4. That is a great quote. I can’t tell you how many book companions I had at 3 am when I was growing up, particularly in 6th grade. 🙂

    I’m really glad that you’re sharing is all your conference experiences. It’s so helpful, and when you share your great news it’s exciting, too.

  5. First, congratulations on interest in your book! That is as awesome as pink-sparkly duct tape.

    Second, I love that quote. I try to write my main characters so they are likeable, or admirable – maybe not best friend material, but someone worth hanging out with for several hours. I also try to write the main love interest as someone the reader could find themselves falling in love with – just a little. The connection between reader and character adds a lot to a book.

    • Thanks! I’m super excited, but also a bit nervous about quick revisions. You gotta do what you gotta do. I like your idea about letting the reader fall in love with the love interest, just a little. Totally works on me as a reader. 🙂

  6. That’s a great quote! Books fill an important role in people’s lives, and authors should write with that role in mind. Also, congratulations on the interest in Shade! Good luck with the revisions.

  7. “Are you in this for fame or are you in this to really affect people?”

    As much as most writers want it to be simply about the latter… it just gets confusing sometimes.

    • I think it’s okay to desire success for your story and writing and have a byproduct of that be fame. But I think those in it just for the fame will be sorely disappointed for the most part. Most success stories had to write quite a few books before they ever saw fame.

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