25 random… one day late

Yes, it’s a Facebook meme, but I feed my LJ to my Facebook, so this is called efficient blogging.

1. I am too busy for this meme.
2. – 25. See above.

Honest – I’ll try it again in the summer. Everything that came to mind to write in the meme had to do with feeling overwhelmed or not having enough time or some other whiney crap that nobody wants to read.

For me this is the best of times, mostly, and a little of the worst of times. Obviously, I’m enjoying (well, basking in) all the wonderful attention that my work has recently received.

Interjected note for those of you seeking to break into writing: I started writing for kids on September 7, 1992. First picture book was published in 1996. First novel SPEAK, published 1999. So it’s taken me 17 years to get here. Be patient and keep working!

People have been very kind about my books, I have the chance to do work I care about, my family is healthy, my bills are paid. So I have no serious worries. The only small cloud on my horizon is learning how to better balance the time demands. I leave in about six weeks on the next book tour and have a bunch of other speaking trips after that. Once we get past ALA, I’ll have plenty of writing time, but the book I’m working on is due before that.

I’ve thought about taking a 6 month hiatus from blogging, but I’ve decided not to. The blogosphere is my water cooler, where I get to hang out with friends while I pour a cup of coffee. It is also part of the Author side of my job. If you are making your living writing books, you have two jobs: Writer = writing books. Author = everything related to publicity and contact with readers.

Despite the very cranky note on my website discouraging readers from contacting me with homework questions, I received a flood of them this week. Most of them wanted me to explain various aspects of my books for an essay or a report. These were usually accompanied by demands that I answer by midnight, because the paper was due the next day.

For the record: I don’t do homework. And I was such a bad student of English, that if I did give answers, they would probably be wrong.

A couple of the emails asked good questions about being a writer. I thought they might be of interest to you, too, so I’m going to answer them on this blog next week. If you have “What’s It Like To Be A Writer?” questions, leave them in the comments section, and I’ll answer those, too.

What’s it like to be a writer for me today? I am going to try to write 10 pages, and empty my email box and get started on the fan mail that came in this week. And I really need to go for a run.


24 Replies to “25 random… one day late”

  1. I understand where they’re coming from (a monster research paper on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice has been consuming my life since, oh, I don’t know, November?) but seriously? Do your own work!

  2. I am a fan of yours, but I can’t imagine having the gall to send the writer questions about their book. I dunno, that just seems lazy, as though the student can’t be bothered to figure anything out themselves.

    I also want to be a writer one day, so I’m very interested in this thing you’ll post eventually! ♥ I guess my question would be this: How do you know if people accept or condemn like your book? (Stupid question, I know.) What I mean is, how do you know if, because your book might have a few aspects that will undoubtably raise some conservative eyebrows, that it won’t just be deemed inappropriate and nobody will want to read it? I kind of struggle with this for the story I’ve had for years, but at the same time, I don’t think it’d be right to my characters or to myself if I change the major aspects just because a few people won’t like it. If someone can be mature about it and even appreciate that unconventionality, I think that’s the type of reader I’d want.

    Speak is one of my favorite books, and one of the things I love about is that you don’t try to shove the subject of rape under the ring, or use lavender words to merely allude to it. You tackled it straight-on, which a lot of writers won’t do because–heaven forbid–it’s a difficult topic. So I ask you because I think you would probably know a bit more on this question than most writers. Besides, you’re one of my favorites, so why not directly ask one of the writers I look up to? :]

  3. Question about being a writer

    Last summer I I sent out manuscripts of a picture to every publishing house I found listed in a book about publishing children’s books-and I had no luck with any.

    When your fist book was published, was it by a small, independent company or one of the larger, well-known ones?

    If a publisher rejects you, should you send the same manuscript back to them a year later, or assume that they’re not interested?

    Thank you for taking the time to liosten to your readers’ questions!

  4. I have a huge problem with time management–or prioritizing. Between business “stuff” for past books, promo stuff for books in the pipeline, answering emails, and actually trying to write the next book, I feel like my mind is jumping all over the place. Multiply that a thousand times and I can only imagine what YOU have to juggle. I think one of these writer retreats needs a session on juggling–you teach it!

  5. 1. I am too busy for this meme.
    2. – 25. See above.

    Good for you. πŸ™‚ I’ve probably wasted about a half hour now starting it three times on separate occasions, each time realizing at about #8 that I do not. want. to do this.

    Chains is on the display at my uni library, which doesn’t carry much fiction. It made me smile.

  6. Interjected note for those of you seeking to break into writing: I started writing for kids on September 7, 1992. First picture book was published in 1996. First novel SPEAK, published 1999. So it’s taken me 17 years to get here. Be patient and keep working!

    Thank you for saying this. I have a lot of ideas for things I want to write, but there’s always some reason I have for not writing, and I think it all stems from fear of rejection. If I can let that go, I think I might actually get something accomplished.

    Now, my question for you: Does it have an effect on your work if you watch tv shows or movies? A big obstacle for me is that my characters seem to be too much like characters from my favorite tv show. (Let’s not bother guessing which one.) How do you avoid creating something that seems more like fanfiction than original work?

  7. Most of them wanted me to explain various aspects of my books for an essay or a report. These were usually accompanied by demands that I answer by midnight, because the paper was due the next day.

    Oh, gosh. That’s just stunningly rude and inconsiderate.

    Question: what’s it like when on tour, for your writing? Do you have much time/energy left for writing, do you make yourself work on a particular project, or is it only if a deadline’s edging close for a contracted project that you would write while on tour? (It sounds like you need to get this one done before the tour – which suggests you don’t have much time for writing at all – is that frustrating or are you kept too busy to notice that much?)

  8. sounds like the life to me! to be a writer that is. what kind of educational background do you have and do you think it prepared you to be a writer. what other things helped you be a better writer?

  9. Yeah, I’d say you did all the homework you needed to do while you were in school, huh? πŸ™‚

    Thanks for being so generous with your time, Laurie. You are made of awesome!

  10. I don’t want want you to do my homework

    I just want you to do my life for, say, the next two weeks? Please answer by midnight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Overwhelmed, Ed

  11. Balancing various time demands is really tricky. Sorry it’s stressing you out; I hope you find a way that works for you.

    If you feel like answering …
    1) Does the pressure of approaching deadlines ever take the joy out of writing for you? Is it challenging to work creatively under deadlines? Or are you still able to find the joy in it?
    2) How is the running going? (Sorry, not writing related.)

    πŸ™‚ Sarah

  12. How incredibly awesome of you to answer question!

    1)What are your top two-three methods used in revision?

    2) I’ve read you published your first seven books without an agent before getting Amy Berkower. How difficult is it to publish without one and were you actively pursuing one the entire time before Speak brought you acclaim?

    3) I know you won’t do my homework, but what about laundry? πŸ™‚
    (Just kidding…)

    4) How is your Kindling Words Drumming Thumb?
    Sounds like something from a medical journal…

  13. Writing Questions

    Are you sorry you asked for more questions?!

    I wonder whether you think there is value in the physical task of writing, the discipline of doing something like writing for a set time each day, even if the writer isn’t working on something specific. In my head I imagine a set of writing muscles not unlike running muscles and feel like there is a point to daily training, even when I am not working toward a specific goal – like daily runs even when you aren’t in training for a certain event.

    Perhaps this doesn’t happen to you, but what do you do when you haven’t got an idea or character calling to you for your next project?



  14. Great question, and one I’ve struggled with as well. What I’ve come to see is that the uniqueness of your work, the very thing you’re trying to tone down and even hide, for fear of being rejected, is actually the best thing you have to offer and what will actually help your work be heard.

  15. *nods thoughtfully* Hmm… I’ve never really thought about it that way. ♥ After all, how many times have I wanted to read a book or watch a film because it was “controversial”, and winded up loving it? This definitely helped, believe it or not. Thanks for the wise words :]

  16. I’m in a writing workshop this weekend and yesterday I came up with a question that only a published writer can answer, and I suspect that the answer will be different for different writers, but you’re a great person to ask as you have several published works, now.

    Have you ever, upon receiving galleys of your book, edited what you wrote because of the way it was/wasn’t looking (or going to look) on the finished page? Or is that kind of thing something that can happen before galleys?

  17. I realized my question was never going to be answered b/c it didn’t post properly!!

    Question about being a writer

    This is probably one of those “whatever works for you” kinds of questions, but I’d like your perspective. Since, as you mention, most writers must maintain full-time jobs to live on while writing, how does one balance writing with the other demands of life? This includes not only the full-time day job but also raising children and family demands. I’m sure that your juggling of book tours and fan mail and running and family alongside your writing time must provide some wisdom…please share!

  18. What’s the publishing process at this point in your career? Will your publisher take anything you write? Are manuscripts still rejected?

    What do you read, outside of researching and work? πŸ™‚

    I’ve learned so much about writing from your blog, thank you!

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