Inspiration from Junot Diaz

I loved the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  I found the words of Junot Diaz, the author who struggled to complete the book for seven years, equally inspiring.

“Because, in truth, I didn’t become a writer the first time I put pen to paper or when I finished my first book (easy) or my second one (hard). You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

(Read the whole article here.)

This may sound depressing to some, but if he wrote it… and then went on to write a fantastic Pulitzer Prize winning novel… well you get the picture.

Revision; Am I Normal?

For about 9 months now I’ve been in this strange limbo world of having an agent but still being in the process of revising.  I’ve received great feedback from my agent and I’ve struggled to balance the desire to be done, with the desire to make the book as good as it can be.

All along I’ve wondered, am I normal?  Does this usually happen to writers?  Part of me certainly thought once I’d landed an agent I was set.  Alas, not so.  Today I read a great post at kidlit.com about the agent/author revision process.  I especially liked this quote:

“These really do take as long as they take, and each project is different. I’ve seen them take a weekend, I’ve seen them take months. For me, I want them done in a timely manner but quality is much more important. My big pet peeve is seeing a revision that’s been expedited but is incomplete. Revision is a complicated process… you think, you stew, you gnash your teeth, you get ideas, you work and rework… it can’t be rushed.”

I wish I had seen this post 6 months ago.  I would have felt a lot more normal

An Appreciation for Structure

One of my dearest friends is an architecture student and a historical preservation nerd.  The kind of person who likes to visit cemetaries and old houses on vacation.

Once after having the moldings or other period detail pointed out to me one too many times, my friend asked me if I looked at books the way she looked at buildings.  My first reaction was to blurt out “NO! Because books aren’t boring and buildings are.”

After I got over my initial prejudice I realized that  she’s absolutely right.  Since getting serious about writing a novel I read differently.  When I read a book I pay more attention to the structure of the story than I used to.  If an author throws me a whole chapter of back story I make a mental note about whether or not it worked.  I particularly pay attention to endings and how the whole denoument is handled.   If a familiar plot structure is used, I’m aware of it.  I still read for the pure pleasure of getting lost in a story, but now when I read I’m more aware of what the author is doing to create that experience for me, the reader.

And now, thanks to an observant friend, I’m aware that I’m doing it.  How has writing changed the way you read?