Monday, November 7, 2011



The Vegas Valley Book Festival was this past weekend and while the weather was chilly, I still managed to have a good time.

I attended two young adult panels – one on paranormal fiction and the other on contemporary fiction, and waited around for autographs in the afternoon.  (James Dashner and Jay Asher are really nice guys!)

It’s so interesting to me to hear from published authors about their creative process, their typical writing day, their inspiration, and their path to publication. 

Here are some of the things I took away from the experience:

1)   There is no ONE way to write. 

For example, some of the authors create their characters by making soundtracks or thinking about the types of foods their characters would eat, while others let the characters come to life as they write.  Some use outlines, some don’t. 

Some of the authors wrote freely, withholding all revision until the first draft was finished.  Other authors revised after every few pages or paragraphs (I fall into this category). 

Although there are a ton of books out there on the proper way to write a novel, it is freeing to realize that there is NO proper way to write a novel.

2)   There is no ONE route to publication.

Each author had a different story to tell.  For some, it wasn’t until the tenth manuscript that they were published (I know, disheartening!  But they persevered).  For others, they were at the right place at the right time.

Having said that, they stressed the importance of getting involved in a writing organization.  They mentioned RWA  (Romance Writers of America) as an invaluable resource – even if you don’t write romance (this is something I need to look into).  And, as I spoke one on one with Jay Asher and James Dashner, they mentioned SCBWI.  Asher said that he attends the SCBWI Conference every year because it is so inspirational.  I attended it this year as well and completely agree.  It is also a fantastic way to make connections.  I hope to make it a regular event myself!

3)   Their typical writing days were very atypical – varying by person and even on a day-to-day basis. 

Most mentioned not being as disciplined as they would like to be.  Many talked about finding the time to write with small children.  Since I work full-time, I wondered about whether any of them did too, but at this point in their careers, I guess they don’t need to.  Or some of them decided to do the daring thing and give it a shot, knowing the money wouldn’t be there for a while (this is where, I imagine, a spouse comes in handy). 

A couple of them used to be English teachers like me, which was interesting.  Although one said that she had to get out of teaching because it was “sucking out her soul.”  Ha!  I think every teacher can relate to feeling that way once in a while.

4)   They ignore their families when they write. 

This was what my husband most took away from it. He was hoping I’d outgrow this habit of cutting off the world when I write, but nope.  It made me feel better knowing that it isn’t just me.  It made him feel worse because now he knows it’s permanent. J

5)   Even if you are lucky enough to get an agent and get published, it does not mean your book will sell. 

One author – who is now quite popular – is on her third pen name because her books before her current series did not sell. 

The stress does not go away once you’re published.  You have to keep working, selling yourself, and starting new projects.

6)   While a few of them mentioned wanting to be spies for the government at one time (and seriously applied for the CIA and FBI!), they made it clear that being an author is their ideal job.  They really wouldn’t want to do anything else.

Overall, I learned a lot.  It only adds fuel to the fire of my desire to become a published writer.

Good luck to each of you in your writing pursuits!  Don’t give up.  These writers didn’t. 

1 comment:

Jacinda said...

Thw RWA is what I was talking about the other day when I said that I picked up a magazine at the library filled with pages of romance novels! If the YA novel doesn't work out then you can always start writing some sci-fi romance novels;) Just kidding~ But really, the magazine was filled with reviews from a ton of other writing genres and upcoming book releases so it is definitely a great magazine to subscribe to and it's great to know that getting involved with it can help you down the rode.