“I give you virtually everything I have. I give you all the best things I have, and while these things are things that I like, memories that I treasure, good or bad, like the pictures of my family on my walls, I can show them to you without diminishing them. I can afford to give you everything.”—Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (via bookmania)
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. Just change their height and hair color. No one ever once has recognized him or herself in my fiction. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”—Anne Lamott
This three-part post by one of my favorite writers should not be read with an empty stomach, regardless of how little of a sweet tooth you think you have. This journey of macarons begins in Tokyo (yes, Tokyo), proceeds to Paris and parks its finale in Portland. Be prepared to read and drool—and, perhaps, find your new favorite blog.
Writers love getting a great blurb for their new book. Publicists love a great blurb. Editors love a great blurb. You know who doesn’t love a great blurb? The writers who write them, out of the glowing generosity of their godforsaken hearts.
The reliably hilarious Adam Mansbach (you probably read his fake children’s book, Go the Fuck to Sleep) shared his blurb writing pricing system with The New Yorker. Here’s a selection.
* * *
This is your first book. (+$100)
This is your first book in a decade. (+$150)
I know you. (-$50)
We made out at a party. (+$25)
We got drunk together at a literary festival once, but I could tell you were thinking the whole time about how now you could ask me for a blurb. (+$75)
You are making this request in person at a book signing. (+$150)
You are the only person at this book signing. (-$100)
The first word of your two-word title is a gerund. (+$75)
The word after the gerund in your two-word title is a proper noun masquerading as a regular noun, i.e. “Losing Ground,” a novel about a man named Peter Ground. (+$250)
Your bio contains a list of wacky jobs you’ve held and/or states that you “divide your time” between two cities, countries, or continents. (+$300)
Your book is dedicated to a dead writer you never met. (+$350)
You are a literary novelist best known for writing an expletive-laced fake children’s book. (-$40)
Your advance was higher than mine. (+$200)
You were named one of the “20 Best Writers Under 5’6”” or one of “America’s Best Looking Début Novelists” or some other bullshit list that I should have been on but wasn’t because my agent is a hack who can’t get arrested in this town. (+$450)
These “10 commandments for editing someone’s work” from Nathan Bransford are fantastic. I’ve had wonderful and disastrous workshop experiences. This should be mandatory reading for any writer attending a workshop—or offering feedback on a fellow scribe’s work.
I love this commentary from Emily Gould. Although I consider myself an avid memoir reader (and defender), I’m ready for us to move past the “and then X saved me” story. Let’s dig into the more complex, not “tied in bow” lives we live. Some of the most interesting stories are those where the author simply slogged through her own shit rather than changing her life because of recovery or finding the right love.
“When women write in the first person their work is often called “confessional.” And there’s an accepted template for female narratives that tends to be the only story you read in bestselling books and first-person essays in women’s magazines that goes like: “I was bad – [sordid description of bad behavior] – but then [love, my baby, my husband, AA, etc] saved me. I solved my problem. I am no longer bad.” I have nothing against redemption per se but I am really bored with that story. That story doesn’t reflect anything about what women’s or human beings’ lives are really like. I have always gravitated to books that resist the commercial impulse to make life conform to formulaic narrative conventions. This is how books are marketed, understandably, because it’s an easy story to sum up, and you can also sell it to the reader as instructive: this is how you, too, can get better and start living your best life ™! But I prefer to read books like, say, Glory Goes and Gets Some by Emily Carter, where the narrator goes to rehab, gets clean, and then the book is only half over and she still has to figure out life and it’s genuine and very complicated.”
If you believe there is such a thing as “writer’s block” then it will exist and it will find you. Of course there are times when the writing is not smooth, cute, or memorable. But I like to remind myself that my hand still works and therefore writing work of some kind can be done. It took me awhile to totally invest in this truth but once I did it changed everything about my writing. My writing muscles got a lot stronger.
~Nikky Finney from interview with Gotham Writers’ Workshop
Meredith Reznick’s smart and insightful blog The Writer’s [Inner] Journey has long been one of my favorite regular reads. This five-question interview with an acquisitions editor is one to note because the editor addresses the dreaded “author platform” and why it’s more than the number of Twitter followers or Facebooks “likes” that you have. Here’s a taste:
"Your connections have to feel like they want to support you/buy your book. They do that when they feel engaged with you."
Kim France (of Sassy and Lucky magazine fame, though I preferred her work at Sassy) has launched a new blog: Girls of a Certain Age. It’s just getting its footing (or is it wording?) but, so far, it looks worthy of adding to your reading list. Plus, there’s an interview with my favorite Sassy staffer of all time: Christina Kelly.