Quotes

Friday Writing Inspiration from Neil Gaiman

neil-gaiman-writing-quote I'm finally back to doing my regular Friday afternoon writing inspiration. And boy, do I need inspiration, because between The Romantics coming out and getting married, I am way behind on all my deadlines.

Anyway, this one comes from fellow children's book author and storyteller extraordinaire, Neil Gaiman: “Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent.” ― Neil Gaiman

Key word, sometimes! And we're really lucky when it does.

I really like this quote because it reminds me of what I was going for in The Romantics. It might not be my own love story, but there's elements of my own experiences on every page. And I'm hoping that even though it's all technically a "lie," that it will feel true to readers out there.

Happy Friday and happy reading!

 

Friday Writing Inspiration: Stephen King

IMG_8239.PNG It's Friday, and I'm hard at work on kicking off new ideas and getting ready to promote the hell out of old ones :D

It's a good problem to have: Over the next 2-3 years, I'll have 4 books coming out. It's an absolute dream, and I am so thankful every day to get to do this writing thing.

But dream or no dream, when you're working on this many projects, it means as soon as you let something go you're off to concepting and drafting once again. The good news is, I can't exactly get lazy--I have deadlines to account for, after all (even if I do tend to always get them pushed just a little bit). But the bad news is, with all the writing going on, I've been a bit remiss in holding up Stephen King's second (and just as important) piece of advice: reading.

I've long believed that reading--and reading voraciously--is the best thing a writer can do to educate themselves. Better than an MFA, better than craft workshops, better than obsessively reading advice on the internet from their author heros. I'm not saying that all of these don't have an important place in improving one's writing, but no amount of instruction is going to even come close to the sheer amount of learning a writer does by simply soaking up other writers' words.

It's why I am not a snob about reading. I read in most genres, literally and super-commercial, high-brow and low-brow (though I hate those designations).

But over the past few months, as the deadlines have loomed and the emails from editors have repeatedly showed up in my inbox reminding me of another deadline once one has passed, I haven't taken the time to make much of a dent in my TBR pile.

So here's to reading! Over the last week, I've gone back to my first love and have tried to choose reading over TV/Internet/insert-timesuck-here. Because I love TV, and I like the Internet, at least, but nothing is so amazing as a damn good book.

So here's to writing--and reading--and taking King's advice to heart!

Happy Friday, y'all.

Friday Writing Inspiration: Blake Snyder's Save the Cat

recite-2ivjg2 Save the Cat has quite a reputation in the writing community, both for screenwriters and novelists, and now that I've finally read it, it's not hard to see why. It lays out structure in such a clear, easy-to-understand way, and even if you've written lots of stuff before, it makes all the rules you know and rely on all the sharper.

Screenwriters live and breathe structure, but novelists and short story writers, not so much. At least we're not told to. Creative writing classes, from high school through college and beyond, often focus on the prose, itself. They tell you to show instead of tell, to make the dialogue natural and conversational, to avoid cliches and trite phrasing, to not be so heavy-handed, etc., etc. This is all well and good, but this is all part of polishing. Making the words themselves beautiful, engaging, honest. This all assumes that you know how to craft a story in the first place.

Which so many of us struggle with. In fact, many of us get the advice that we should just write the story as it naturally comes to us and not get bogged down in structure and rules. It's literature, after all! Art!

That's why I love this quote of Blake Snyder's. You can break the rules. You can turn them upside down and defy cliche. But it's a lot easier to do once you know and can articulate exactly what those rules are.

Friday Writing Inspiration: Joyce Carol Oates

recite-1152fz0 On this fine Friday, I'm honing in on an idea for my next novel. I'm talking, beat-sheet, spur-of-the-moment trips to Barnes & Noble to finally read Save the Cat, kind of honing. I've posted about this before, and I know there are two pretty divisive schools of thought on whether outlining does or does not stifle creativity, but I consider myself pretty solidly in the outlining camp these days. And books like Save the Cat only help me sharpen those skills. So I'm wondering if you guys agree with this quote from the awesome Joyce Carol Oates. I saw her speak at a reading in New York a couple of years ago, and she said something very similar. It struck me at the time, because I was a non-outliner then. Now, however, while I wouldn't go so far as to say that you have to have the ending fully planned out, I definitely recognize the benefit of having a solid game plan.

What do you guys think? Is this kind of advice stifling or simply practical?

Happy writing, and happy Friday!

Friday Writing Inspiration: Margaret Atwood and Questions and Answers in Fiction

Margaret Atwood writing quoteHappy Friday. After a bit of a hiatus (including sunning on Miami Beach and a lot of writing), I'm back to the blog. This Friday, I'm finding particular inspiration in the amazing Margaret Atwood. I'll admit, I'm rather late to the Atwood game. Though I've heard myriad good things about her over the years, I only recently read her work, beginning with THE HANDMAID'S TALE and ORYX AND CRAKE, and I'm just now finishing THE ROBBER BRIDE. I can't say enough about her style, the way she weaves words together, the way she explores metaphors to the Nth degree, the way in which language is important even to her characters. In her works, Atwood asks a lot of questions about science, society, sex, women's role in the home and the world, and so much more. She asks "what if" a lot, and what she gets back is often terrifying. It is in this asking, however, that she shows us just how important our own humanity is. Without it, these what-ifs could come true. In the case of THE HANDMAID'S TALE, many of them already have.

In the midst of these larger questions, Atwood tucks in smaller ones, and maybe those are even the most enchanting. Why is their no comparable word for "fraternize" is one of my favorites. In THE HANDMAID'S TALE, Offred says: "Fraternize means to behave like a brother. Luke told me that. He said there was no corresponding word that meant to behave like a sister. Sororize, it would have to be, he said. From the Latin. He liked knowing about such details."

It is the role of all of us to ask questions, writers and otherwise, and while we may not yet be adept in asking the types of questions that Atwood does, we may also not be meant to ask these same questions. This is why I love her quote so much. It's not so much that there are right and wrong answers, but rather that we all have our different questions. And by posing those, we hopefully share some glimmer of truth with our readers and ourselves.

Writers, what questions do you ask? Do you find answers as you write?

Friday Writing Inspiration: Writing Fast, Writing Lots. Plus, Win The After Girls and Get the Ebook for $1.99!

ray-bradbury-writing-quoteI'm approaching about 60,000 words on my current WIP, and let's just say that the writing is not necessarily Tolstoy-esque. I'm willing to bet it's in pretty rough shape, actually. It is in need of several good edits and rewrites, and lot of it needs to be just plain deleted or at least reigned in. That said, there is something there, which is pushing me along. There is a story, and--all craft and beautiful language aside--I really feel it is coming together in this draft.

I wanted to share two awesome quotes today as inspiration for those of us who love to pound out shitty first drafts.

Above, a writing quote from Ray Bradbury, on writing a lot.

raymond-chandler-writing-quote

And here, a writing quote from Raymond Chandler, on writing fast.

Hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me!

P.S. More news on this next week, but as part of YALSA's Teen Reads week, which is sponsored by my publisher, Merit Press, not only will YALSA be giving away a suite of Merit titles, but during that week, you can get all their titles on ebook, including The After Girls, for just $1.99. Yay! More to come next week.

Friday Writing Inspiration: Zen Pencils

Ralph Waldo Emerson Zen Pencils Quote

Happy Friday! I usually post a quote that I find inspirational, but today, I'd rather share an Australian artist who does the same as me, but does a much much better job. I first discovered the work of Gavin Aung Than when a fellow writer linked to this incredibly inspiring post on Facebook. Gavin explores, among other things, the struggle artists creators (and hell, humans) have in adapting to a corporate life. As a fiction writer with a day job, I can definitely relate.

But more than exploring the corporate world, Gavin turns some of my favorite inspiring quotes about things like making art, being kindrespecting others and making the most of here and now like no one else. While these are other people's quotes, Gavin creates his own story around them--and in this case, the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.

Above is one of the free posters Gavin shares when you sign up for his newsletter. I definitely recommend it!

 

Friday Writing Inspiration: Sylvia Plath and Overcoming Self-Doubt

Sylvia Plath writing quoteLike all writers (and all humans), I have a tendency to get down on myself sometimes. And with a published book, sometimes it can be pretty easy. Is it selling as much as X, X or X? Why did so-and-so get a positive review from such-and-such and I didn't? Why is review #23 on Goodreads so mean? What did I ever do to them? Do they know that I still read every single review? Do they know how much their words can sting? Why is a 24-year-old a bestseller? By that logic, at 28, I should be a bestseller a few times over! During times like this, it's easy to forget about the good things. That Booklist loved The After Girls, that, for awhile, at least, the book was rocking the Top 50 on Amazon, that a reviewer, who, for all intents and purposes, appears not to be delusional or crazy, compared my writing to that of John Green

And beyond all that commercial stuff, the fact that I receive emails like this:

Hi! I just finished reading your book After Girls and wanted to tell you it was really good! I felt like I was in the book and experiencing what Sydney and Ella were. It felt like Astrid was my friend. 

Or that this adorable teen thought it fit to record a hilarious review for her YouTube channel.

There's also this: The After Girls is not the only story I have in me. That I have a new idea that I love and my agent loves, and I feel like readers will love, too.

There are so many things to be thankful for as a writer, and more than anything else, the fact that you get the joy of writing and sharing your work with the world, whether that world is your partner, a friend, your doting mom or a million loyal readers.

For those of you struggling (like me) with the inevitable writer self-doubt, for those looking for an agent, an editor, a second publishing lottery ticket, or simply for the strength and dedication to complete your story, I encourage you to meditate on the fact that we all feel this way sometimes. And to remember that, if you've suffered any of the setbacks that come with writing and publishing and you still want to write, you must have something to say, because there are a lot of easier ways to make money (and a ton of easier ways to have fun).

Happy Friday.

Leah

Friday Writing Inspiration: Robert Graves Quote, Money and Writing

robert-graves-writing-money-quote

 

Happy Friday! Today, I'm enamored by this quote by poet and novelist, Robert Graves. It reminds us that money can never be the end-goal of writing, but that that's okay.

Sometimes, I think it's almost easier to say you're not in it for the money before you get published, because even if it's a long-shot, you can always dream of your book going to auction, of that huge deal, of being the next J.K. Rowling right out the door (p.s. not even J.K. Rowling was J.K. Rowling right out the door), but once you get your first deal, you're faced with a number, a paper, a contract. You have a dollar amount that says: This is how much your art is worth.

While I'm working hard towards a time when that dollar amount is enough to be my sole income, it's important to remember that that is not the goal. The goal is to write something beautiful and of value to others--and to yourself. Some art will be rewarded monetarily, some won't. Some works that are not authentic hardly truly valuable will earn money in droves. It's a lottery ticket. But for now, at least, I feel very thankful that some people, during these crazy economic times, are willing to shell out a few bucks for The After Girls, something that is very special and important to me.

So here's to writing, and here's to day jobs, eating in, and all the other things that are a part of a writer's life.

Friday Writing Inspiration: Anthony Trollope Writing Quote

Anthony Trollope Writing Quote

One of my favorite authors, and now, one of my favorite quotes. I'm not sure why Anthony Trollope never gets taught in school. He's a British serial novelist who is, in my opinion, absolutely brilliant. His stories are so captivating and enjoyable, yet still very well-written, like a high-class old-time soap opera. But of course, Dickens get all the praise and attention when it comes to serial novelists. I actually only found out about Trollope through a bookseller in Williamsburg's recommendation. I owe to him a better lit education than I ever received from a college professor.

Anyway, anyone who's read Trollope (and please, read Trollope! Start with He Knew He Was Right. Plus, than you can watch the BBC miniseries.) knows that his writing appears effortless. His books are thousands of pages, and I've yet to come across so much as a turn of phrase that's awkward.  It's refreshing to know that what appear so easy for him, was actually quite labored.

So here's to lots of work--and lots of beautiful writing!

Happy Friday!

Leah

Friday Writing Inspiration: Jack London Writing Quote

Jack London Writing QuoteThat's definitely me this weekend, hiking around the frightening wilderness of my mind, club in hand and desperately trying to turn my novel idea into a full novel (coming up on the 1/3 done point!). Now that I've dramatically discussed my writing process, hope you can glean some inspiration from this awesome quote! Happy Friday and happy writing!

Leah

Friday Writing Inspiration: Stephen King Quote and Why Fiction Rocks

Stephen King writing quote--fiction Happy Friday! I am blessed this weekend to have a lovely friend in town, so it's unlikely that I will do quite as much writing as I really should. But either way, how true and awesome is this quote by the great Stephen King?

I once explained to my boyfriend (a great lover of non-fiction) that I thought, in a lot of cases, fiction has a greater impact than non-fiction. Essentially, it is truth (at the least good fiction is), just delivered in a package we can all relate to, connect with and understand.

News and opinion and 24-hour cable and Twitter updates may make us a little crazy, it may make us all un-friend each other on Facebook and argue about the events of the day. This week has proven more than anything that it may polarize us, and that when we're in news mode, we are often unable to see things in a new light and be open to other points of views. Not saying non-fic isn't incredibly important, but in some instances, I think fiction and drama can be far more powerful, and instead of dividing us according to issues, it unites us through emotions and relationships and pages and pages of mini-truths that we can connect with.

Those are my thoughts, at least.

Happy Friday, and happy writing!