I know I've been terrible about posting here, but that's because I've been doing lots of writing elsewhere. (And also watching Downton Abbey, because come on.) A sampling of some recent work:
I was sixteen years old when I realized that women could be writers.
Obviously, I knew that women could write — and did write — books; I’d grown up with Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume and Ann M. Martin and Francine Pascal. I belonged to a generation of children raised by feminist mothers who read Ms. Magazine and told little girls that we could grow up to be the first female president of the United States. I spent my childhood in gender-neutral overalls, exploring cornfields and building bridges when the cow pond flooded. I was Free to Be You and Me and We Girls Can Do Anything! (Right, Barbie?)
Like most writers, I don’t know where characters begin. A moment in passing, a stranger on the train, a half-remembered story, a what if — characters begin as whispers and shadows, best seen peripherally. Time passes, and you do your best to show up every day, hang out for a few minutes or a few hours, and begin to tease out their stories. I don’t know of any way to do this part other than dreaming and listening and writing. I don’t think there’s a shortcut.
Once you have them on the page, though, pinned down in sentences and paragraphs, you can begin to think analytically about who you’re working with....
Despite what everyone else has told you, you don’t actually have to start a blog.
In fact, you probably shouldn’t....
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably doing everything right. You’re a member of SCBWI, and you actively work to build your network of fellow writers. You’re a student of storycraft. You spend a lot of time thinking about structure and plot and characterization and how to hook your reader. Your bookshelves are full of books about writing: Bird by Bird, Writing Down the Bones, If You Want to Write, The Artist’s Way, The Elements of Style. You take writing classes and belong to a workshop and have a writer’s group. Maybe you even have an agent or have publications under your belt.
With all this studying and support, the writing part is a snap, right?
If you attend every meeting and every class, read every book and every blog, and the writing is still hard, it might be simply because writing is always hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Writing pushes us to confront our deepest secrets and fears, to dig around in what it means to be human and build something beautiful. It’s not easy.
But maybe it doesn’t need to be this hard, either....
If you want to read more, check out The Debutante Ball blog, where I post every Wednesday. And until then, here is a video of baby sloths.