If you had been at Seattle Pacific University the other night, I'd have told you every secret I know for finishing a novel. If you weren't, you have to figure it out for yourself. Just kidding! I love telling secrets! I'm just not going to post the text of my talk because I am sure I will want to give that same presentation again and I won't want anyone to have read it here!
The wonderful Western Washington SCBWI had invited me up to talk at their December meeting -- I'd only been to their big annual conference, never the monthly meetings, and I didn't know what to expect. I should have known that, like everything else they do, it was fabulous. There was even a cookie judging competition, complete with homemade trophies! And there was a skit where husbands dressed up as their wives and did the happy dance, and. . . a sasquatch made an appearance to kidnap the lovely and talented Jaime Temairek and spirit her away to its foresty home. And of course, there was my talk.
But first, there was sushi. Here are the lovely Sara Easterly and Jolie Stekly, along with Jolie's husband Derek, who we'd never met before and who couldn't have been nicer.
Sara and Jolie are the outgoing regional advisers to the chapter, who have run such fab conferences for the last several years. Now, they move on to bigger things. Jolie has recently signed with an agent (yippeeee!) and her first novel is being read right now by editor-types in New York. Fingers crossed!!! And Sara, among other things, is keeping busy with the adorable Miss Violet, who arrived in August:
(Here Sara was trying to pose like Violet, with her hand in her mouth, but Violet wasn't playing along. Look at that adorable look on her little face!)
And here is Jaime in the sasquatchly arms of Chadwick, who is a school librarian by day, and a writer and part-time monster in the evenings.
Everyone was full of cookies and laughter by the time I started talking, and they were a wonderful audience.
Here are a few tips from my slide show:
You must have a regular date with your chair. You must sit there, no matter what, because it is only by sitting there that the pain of not writing will ever surpass the pain of writing. You must confront the blank page, a battle of wills. If it's a battle between you and your book, you should always win, because you are alive and have will and brains, and fingers to type with. The book just lays there, trying to be intimidating. Like Wesley at the end of Princess Bride and his whole "to the pain" speech? When we knew all the time he couldn't even move and was only bluffing? Yeah, your book is like that. It can't hurt you. It can't win unless you give up or die, so don't do either of those things.
In the sense of: no idea is ever set in stone in your work-in-progress, not until it is In Print. At any point in the writing or revising, anything can change, even the things you consider primary ideas, the building blocks of the story. BE EXTRAVAGANTLY OPEN-MINDED.
Do you know what the difference is between a finished novel and an unfinished novel? This isn't a trick question. One is finished and the other is not. One author did what had to be done, the other didn't, or hasn't, yet. Don't be a crybaby. It's fine to complain with writer friends about how hard writing is, but at the end of the day you just have to suck it up and do what needs to be done. (ie: write.)
It is you every step of the way, creating something from nothing, pushing your story forward. Just you. If you don't do it, it will never get done.
Well, those are some wee snippets, anyway.
And here are Jaime with her awesome dog Logan and also-awesome soon-to-be-husband Aaron at home:
We had a wonderful time, as ever, with the fabulous Washington SCBWI crowd.
Oh, and I just got invited to speak at the Oregon Reader's Association conference in February, which is way cool. I will be talking about "kids and the kidlitosphere" and how kids can get involved with the online book community and meet authors online and have insight into the making of books in a way we never could as kids, in the pre-computer age.
P.S. Last I checked, Patrick Rothfuss's fundraiser it closed over $50,000!!! That means that somehow in that last day he raised $10,000! That is AMAZING. I wonder how much he will match. What a fabulous, fabulous thing :-)