In the not-so-distant past, I effused about Laura Miller's The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia. After reading it, I so admired Miller for her candor, wit, compassion and eloquence. I still love the book, but I'm a bit miffed at Miller right now after having read her slam of NaNoWriMo at Salon.com. Hey, I totally get it -- NaNo doesn't sit well with everyone. For many folks, it's not the best method. That's fine! But did she really have to get ugly about it? I just don't understand why she's so deeply offended by the idea of quick-drafting a novel. (And neither did a lot of her commenters. You'll find some classy responses there. Oh, and some rude ones, too, if that's your thing. heh.)
1. Fortunately Nova Ren Suma tweeted a link to this response to Miller from Carolyn Kellog at the LA Times. Nice refutation of each of Miller's arguments, Ms. Kellog! If any of you are feeling sore about NaNo haters like Miller, read this article.
2. You might also read L.K. Madigan's initially cheeky but ultimately inspirational Rules for Writers. I've never seen a metaphor forced so beautifully. BE THE CORN, as Lisa Schroeder would say!
3. Then there's Myra McEntire's You Gotta Believe at Adventures in Children's Publishing. She addresses just about every feeling of inadequacy or fear that I've ever experienced on the road to publication. I wanted to shout "Hallelujah" when I finished reading!
4. I also got a kick out of Brian Kell's recent post on the tragic disconnect between a great idea and what actually ends up on the page. Check it out here.
5. Finally, I gotta take this back to the writer whose book helped me get unblocked. I know each of us has a unique method of composing that first draft. But if you're like me and sometimes despair at how the writing on the page doesn't live up to the grand idea in your noggin, consider Anne Lamott's words:
For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.
The first draft is the child's draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. [. . .] Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you never would have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you're supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might want to go -- but there is no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and half pages. (Bird by Bird, pp 22-23)
This may even be too wild and loose for me -- I'm a planner/outliner and don't usually jump in and romp with such abandon, but I do write things that make me cringe. And I just fix that stuff later. If it's not fixable, it gets cut. The main point is DON'T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF. Just get something on the page.
Do YOU have any other pep talks to share? If so, link in the comments!
Happy Friday and Happy Writing!
[Cross-posted from Livejournal]
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
2 hours ago