Sunday, November 3, 2013

One True (Writing) Thing: About Self, Writing, and Community

I read a YA thriller yesterday. (Escape From Eden, by Elisa Nader--an author I met at a recent conference--she's delightful, by the way, and her book rocks!) In a fast-paced scene, (okay, it was all fast-paced with delicious twists at every turn) Elisa took a beat to describe the sound of blinds tangling as a door slammed shut.

And, I thought to myself, wow, that is exactly how that sounds. What a great nugget of truth.

It might seem unnecessary to bring that piece of sensory truth into the novel--it didn't advance the plot, it didn't strictly need to be there, but that one piece of truth lent reality to everything else.

By anchoring your reader to familiar things, it allows them to believe in all the made up stuff. :)

Knowing one true thing about your writing journey can show you the reality of how to advance your writing career.

A few years ago, I led a special interest group for first time conference-goers at the marvelous NE-SCBWI spring conference. I asked the writers/illustrators to think of that one thing that they needed to get their career to the next level. I mean, there isn't just one thing, but there is always that one bald truth staring us in the face. If I could overcome that, one thinks, I could go places. :) It was especially important advice for the conference, because attending workshop after workshop can be overwhelming. If you know what one thing you are trying to get out of a conference, then it changes the whole reality of the experience. You can take breaks instead of trying to take in every little piece of information. By focusing on what matters, you can learn how to do that one thing much more quickly.

Now, I meet a lot of writers on a daily basis. I talk with people who are interested in joining our local community, The Writers' Loft. I find out what they are writing and what they are looking for. Because everyone who wants to join a community is looking for something specific. And since I know our community of writers, since I attend writing conferences, since I read books about craft and publishing, and since I try to keep abreast of publishing news, I can sometimes connect people with what they need. That one true thing.

 You probably don't need to talk with another writer to find out what you need. (Although it certainly can't hurt.) It's probably that nagging irritating thought that won't leave you alone. If only I had time to write. If only I knew how to get this Picture Book into the hands of an agent. If only I had a great pitch for my book. If only I knew how to add tension to my revision.

Focus on that one true thing and go after it! No excuses. And, if you need a writerly friend, email me. Open invitation. I'd love to help connect you to the answer of your one true thing need.

Finding community doesn't have to be hard.

My one true thing? I am trying to not lose the thread of my writing projects while I grow my non-profit. My answer so far is that I am leaning on my writerly friends to keep me accountable for my writing, and I'm learning everything I can about project management. What about you? What's your one true writing thing right now?


  1. Love this post! My one true thing is that I need to stop complaining about not having time and JUST GET STUFF DONE. :-)

  2. Mine, too, would be time. Or...finding a magical drink to replenish the wells of creativity! Some days, after work and taking care of the kidlet and the house, it's just not there, ya know? =)

  3. I'll paraphrase Anna: I need to stop complaining and whining and JUST GET STUFF DONE.

  4. Anna--That's funny, because I really feel as though you get more done than most people I know!

    Leandra--oh, I agree, life can simultaneously drain and replenish the creativity!

    Tom--:) Go for it! You both have a lot of great sticks in the fire!

  5. I love those "true" moments in novels, when somebody nails a bit of sensory detail or a thought I've had but thought nobody else had. You might even be able to remove them and the book would still work, but those little moments just totally convince you that the whole thing is REAL.