Thursday, April 05, 2007

Making a Literary Life Friday: Voices

This week we've shared with you what we hear when we read. There's an initmacy between the writer and reader, something found in quiet corners and stolen moments. We each seek specific qualities from our writers: an experienced voice to guide us, a thrilling plot that leaves us breathless, a desire to be carried along an arc that builds to an unexpected climax, and/or the simplicity of a single, beautiful sentence that leaves you bedazzled for years to come. What do you long for in a book?

This week, by random circumstance, I found myself in a place where I had read and dreamed and wondered many years ago. So long, it's been since I sat in that quiet chair with the flower pattern that should have been distracting, but wasn't. The smell hasn't changed. The lights are as bright. When I was last there I dreamed of writing a novel, finding an agent. All that has happened. I have traveled so far along that road. It was strange and satisfying and frightening.

This week I wrote several charming notes and received lovely responses in return. Something to consider when you become a published author -- and some of you already are -- remember your readers. When they write you and return the kindness, they will never forget how you took the time to drop them a note, they will tell their friends. Of all the writers I've written, only two never bothered to respond. Hmmm...what do you make of that? Someone I'll be sure to write once I've finished her book is Francine Prose, author of Reading Like a Writer. Before you write another sentence, read this book. Thank you for sending it, Patry.

This week there was tiny forward motion in several directions, rather than any major motion. Frustrating, yet I know these phases exist as a natural part of the flow. (They do, don't they?) I am nearly done with a fly-high. fly-low review (not revisions), per Hallie Ephron, in anticipation of edits. I toyed with a list of agents. I made new contacts. My paid work involves pitching television and print for interviews and stories; a little voice in my head noted which might be interested in writers -- perhaps a fabulous parenting book called Negotiation Generation, coming out this fall?

This week I submerged myself in red. I reviewed the copy edited version of my book, Negotiation Generation. I've never been happier to see all those squiggles and lines. It's been amazing to see my manuscript pass through so many capable hands. This morning, I mail it back to Penguin and the next time I see it, it will be in galley form. As for my fiction writing, I completed a synopsis in preparation for my twenty page review at this year's Grub Street conference.


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Thanks for all these touchstones, ladies. I will definitely look into that book Reading like a Writer, Amy.

In and around entertaining my sister and her family from Indiana, I finished preparing my application materials for a Waldorf school in my area, so I haven't spent so much time with my reading or my writing this week. I did, however, take some time to blog about this potentially life-changing decision for me and my kids.

I am currently reading Bud, Not Buddy for my class and can't wait to guide my students through it as writers, not just as readers. There is so much music in the words of that book--how very à propos.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Hi, GG. I just tried the link to your blog, but it wasn't working. Isn't it exciting when you come to a fork in the road and begin to explore new possibilites? Best of luck with the Waldorf school and I hope you like the book!


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Thanks, Amy. I don't know why my profile dropped my blog, but it's fixed now. The school issue is an especially big deal in regards to my daughter and if we can manage to make everything work, it will mean a big change in our lifestyle. But my kids mean everything.

If you can't link up through my profile, here's the link: