Friday, December 30, 2011

My 2012 writing resolutions

Today is my birthday--yay for me! I love having a birthday so close to the end of the year, because I get double the new beginnings, and double the chance to make resolutions.

I've made a few for 2012, but several are too boring, strange, or gooshy to post on my blog. Since 2012 is the year of BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN, out in September (promo starting . . . now!), I thought I'd share the writing resolutions.

I tried on about sixteen, but I came up with two that seem possible.

Resolution #1: 329 days of NaNoBICMo

Many of you know that November is NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month. Not possible for me. However, this November I decided I'd have my own event--National Novel Butt In Chair Month--I'd write or do something writing-related every day. And I did. FANTASTIC. When I let my writing career be a part of my daily life, it became something vital, instead of something I have to wait to do until everything else is done. People have called it a hobby and a time-waster, but it's not. It's my career, and it matters. And 329 days is 90% of a year, so I can have a couple days off.

Resolution #2: 365 days of trusting myself
Way back in my wayback days, I learned not to trust myself. Long story. Even now, as a grown-up, it's a hard position to shake. Consequently, my internal writing dialogue often goes like this: why aren't you writing characters that sell? Why aren't you doing more social media? Why don't you have a career like hers? Or his? What's wrong with you? Why aren't you producing a novel a year? Why are you even writing? Dumb. Hurtful.

This year I resolve to trust myself to write the characters I love and the stories I love, and have a career I love that's mine, not someone else's. I will not worry about Twitter or Google+ or Goodreads, nor will I call my work pointless, even if every single other kidlit author in this state has a NYT bestseller. I also will not give up hyperbole, because I am good at it. : ) But seriously, have you checked out how much talent is in the Minnesota kidlit community? Amazing people here, and they could all accomplish it, all at the same time, even. And then I would cry. But I still resolve to trust myself.

Trusting = relaxing. Enjoying. Having fun. Those things can only be useful.

Please share your writing resolutions with me/us! I'd love to know them, so we can all support each other. Happy 2012, and peace and love to all. Yes, there are hippies in my family tree.

Beautiful cake photo swiped from here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Me and the Fail Whale

In an online group I belong to, several writers are sharing their awesome fan mail--such sweet, kind, funny e-mails! It's so fun to write for middle-schoolers/teens, because their comments to authors are hilarious and frank and perfect.

Confession: I haven't gotten fan mail from teens. Just grown-ups, though the notes were fantastic, and since we've all been teenagers, it sort of counts, right?


Then the Fail Whale came to mind. I've been thinking a lot about my books and my career, and feeling rather fail-ish as a whole. My books are about people our society would sometimes rather forget, which can be a problem if I want to make money, so I can teach less and write more. Should I try to write something more mainstream? I don't know. Should I write paranormal romance? Don't think I'm capable. Should I put my dream away?

The first illustration: it is me. I am dead on the shore.

Then I thought about what the actual Fail Whale is doing--he is FLYING. The Twitter birds (they're tweets?) are carrying him, because he is temporarily inconvenienced and he's too big. He is getting help from his friends! There will come a time when he is back in the ocean and swimming along. This is a *happy* picture instead of a failure.

Fail Whale says: shut up, quit thinking, and write. Let the good stuff carry you until you feel like you can swim again. Write the stories you want to tell. I'll find a way to do less teaching and more writing. I know, I'll become a swimsuit model! My middle-schooler will die of embarrassment, which is a bonus. Or I'll figure out something more realistic.

The notes from grown-ups are still fan letters, aren't they? People felt connected to my book, so they told me, and that's what I wanted when I wrote it. Maybe the fan letters from teens are still in the mail--maybe the Fail Whale birds are bringing them. I'll be hopeful.

(An aside: best comment ever about Twitter? When Stephen Colbert was asked if he'd used Twitter, his response was "I have Twatted." Love you, Stephen Colbert.)