I buy oodles of books. They pile up on shelves, and on a wide windowsill beside my writing desk. They collect dust in stacks on a braided blue rug, and from time to time I clean them off. Every year we donate one or two boxes worth to a library sale, clearing space for new reads. But I can’t bear to part with any of the books that authors have signed to me. To me.
These pictures show only some of the many signed YA and middle grade titles in my collection. I also have a slew written for adults—nonfiction, poetry, memoir, mystery, thrillers, and literary fiction. I’d like to say I’ve read them all, but the truth is that some sit in my to-be-read stack (which got three books taller after last week’s RVA Lit Crawl. Richmond, VA, is a great town in which to be a writer. Have I said that before? Yeah.) Read More
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A few weeks ago I finished the first draft of a novel for 4th-5th grade readers, and set it aside (later I’ll return with fresh eyes and revise). While in this lull between projects, I’ve devoured books and added a few titles to my Favorite Fiction lists. But I feel antsy. When I don’t spend at least a couple of hours writing each morning, I get cranky. At the same time, the thought of beginning a new novel overwhelms me. I know how long and involved the process is. How much writing gets thrown out. How the characters have ideas of their own—ideas that don’t always mesh with mine—and I have to be patient and listen, listen, listen.
Right now I sense the seed of a new story, but it hasn’t yet germinated. Like a burr in my sock, it’s rubbing, and it feels good to scratch at it, but I know I have to let it rub me raw in order to get at the emotions, desires, secrets and fears that will drive the next novel. (Geez, why couldn’t I have been born a comedian?)
I turn to my bulletin board of inspirational tips from faculty and trustees at Vermont College of Fine Arts:
I read and re-read these quotes, and I sigh and nod and free-write and day-dream and pace and say, “thank you.” Thank you.