Round-Up: Authors Who Talk to Their Fans

It’s been a heckuva couple days, and I’m phoning it in with an introduction to three amazing authors who, despite enormous success, continue to communicate with fans on a regular basis. Three authors, three genres, three media platforms.

Lev Grossman, Fantasy, Blog:

128px-Lev_grossman_2011Lev Grossman is the author of the New York Times Bestselling Magicians trilogy (final book coming out later this year). One of my favorite current authors and a kind and generous human being. His blog, infrequently updated though it is, provides a rare, raw insider’s view into the life–and struggles–of a successful novelist. He’s also the books editor for Time Magazine, and, most impressive of all, the sort of guy who offers his time generously to help new authors and communicate with young fans. If you haven’t already, please read his books (I’d loan you mine, but they’re signed SO KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF you can’t handle that kind of responsibility I don’t want to).

Anne Lamott, Nonfiction, Facebook:

Love me some Annie.

Anne Lamott is the author of the wonderful guide to writing that every freshman writing class reads, Bird by Bird, as well as several other laugh-out-loud funny and simultaneously profoundly inspirational books, of which my favorite is Operating Instructions. She’s also a lovely, warm, beautiful human being whose Facebook feed is one of the things that makes Facebook worthwhile. And also makes me cry. Every. Single. Time.

 

Anne Rice, Horror, Twitter:

Anne_RiceAnne Rice is the author of Interview with a Vampire and of course many other masterful books. I admit that her genre is not my favorite and so I’ve only read the one book of hers, but she herself is most definitely among my favorite people for her warmth and her helpful advice for writers. Plus, her Twitter feed is just amazing–constantly filled with weird science news, book discussions, and even links to critical reviews of her work.

 

 

Check ‘em out. You’ll find something worth reading in all three places. Enjoy.

 

Best Writing Advice Ever. From Anne Rice.

I like a good vampire story as much as the next girl, though I’m not really into the sparkly kind. To each her own, though, you know? Still, Anne Rice was never one of my favorite authors until a friend shared this video with me. Now I’m slightly in love with her. Here’s what I like about Anne Rice, and I think it’s an important lesson: She never let what other people think of her genre trip her up. Also, this video contains quite easily the best and most helpful writing advice I have ever, ever heard. Except the bit from Anne Lamott about my excuses being BS. Except for that. And maybe the advice in Bird by Bird. But other than those. The best. Watch.

Also from Anne Rice:

Writers have to have faith in their own voice, and their own way of doing things. Originality is the gem that every writer possesses. Originality also brings on the most merciless attacks. The world resents originality in the beginning writer, and then rewards it abundantly once that writer has been successfully published. Cherish your own voice. Don’t try to sound like anybody else. Sound like yourself and take the slings and arrows and keep going.

And:

On the subject of writing block, of course chocolate helps! Chocolate helps everything. Truly you have to brainstorm to go through writer’s block. Watch a film that excites your imagination tremendously. Pick up a book with delectable prose that just trips along. Do whatever makes you want to sit down and pound away on the keys. And try again and again to write right through that block. Just write until the juices start. Don’t put up with Writer’s block. With me, movies are very powerful. Highly plotted, visually beautiful films help. Amadeus helps. Immortal Beloved helps. Gladiator helps. But eventually you have to just write, and write and write.

Jaimie, I thought you’d like that last one, because the whole “just write” advice doesn’t work for you, and this sounds a lot more like what you do. Also, you’re the one who first shared this clip with me, a long time ago. Credit where credit is due.

The Blog Comment/Facebook Post that Started it All

I posted the text below to my Facebook feed today, along with a link to the Anne Rice advice mentioned (which I’ll post here later). It kinda explains how/why/when/what the impetus was for becoming a novelist/admitting to my inner novelist. And then I got to thinking and decided that to celebrate my new status as an emergent-novelist-who-has-written-50,000-words-in-her-first novel, the logical thing to do is to start a new blog. Or, rather, revive an old one but completely revamp it. For writers. I explain more of what this is about on the about page. Just. Here’s the post:

I’m about to tell you my Thing, because Glennon asked about it on her blog today and I realized I’m ready to share my Thing publicly. Here’s my Thing.

My Thing is writing novels. I’ve had novels living inside me begging to come out all my life, but I kept thinking they were short stories, mostly because I’m impatient, and then I would get frustrated because they would take so darn long to come out, and so I tried to make them be tidy little short stories, and I don’t even like short stories, really. And so I didn’t like them and kept doing other things instead.

I’ve written hundreds of thousands, probably millions, maybe even hundreds of millions (really, I don’t have any actual idea how many) of words on nearly every topic imaginable. Chickens. Debt. Landscape management. Limousine business. Data storage. Marketing Strategy. Gardening. God. Life. Ducks. I’ve been published innumerable times in local and national print, as well as in blogs, brochures, press releases, and websites where there is no byline because I’ve been paid to tell someone else’s story in their voice.

And somehow in all that writing, up until about six months ago, it never seemed like a novel was important enough to bother with. Novels are… entertainment. They don’t make real differences in the world, right? Maybe a handy how-to would be just the thing, or a collection of inspirational essays.

But the stories just kept coming to me and I FINALLY listened to what I’ve heard and known for a long time, that if you are called to do something then that something is what you are called to do… and if you are called to do it, then it IS important.

So about six weeks ago, I decided to let one of the stories that came to me BE the novel that it wanted to be, and to take its sweet time, even though that time turns out to be a lot (A LOT) of mornings. Why:

It was a mix of Anne Lamott, a friend, and wild precious posts from favorite bloggers. Mostly Annie, though. Telling me (and her 100k+ FB followers) that my excuses were bullshit (sorry, but it just wouldn’t be Annie without the swearing).

Also mostly my friend giving us a big precious gift that said I BELIEVE IN YOU (in my head it said that. In everyone else’s reality it said something else–a lot of something elses. It’s a long story, and one I’m not ready to tell yet. But I will. I will when I’m ready).

And also Glennon and her story of getting up every morning to write because it was better than going to Africa.

Oh, and Anne Rice, who said something I will never forget about writing into your pain and writing into your passion. Which is kind of the same thing as saying it’s about pain and love, which is what I do every morning for an hour now, writing into my pain and my love.

So. Anyway. I’m 50,000+ words in. 50. Thousand. Words. That’s enough to be taken seriously, right? I mean, I haven’t just STARTED a novel, I’ve actually written over a third of it. Maybe close to two thirds.

I haven’t shared all this publicly because I’ve been afraid I’ll jinx it. But then I remembered it’s not magic, so it can’t be jinxed. It’s hard work and it’s getting up every morning and doing it again for that one precious hour, every single morning, no matter what. It’s letting my love and my pain be the first thing I do every morning. Love and pain and hard work.

That’s all it is, and you can’t jinx that.

So. Fifty thousand words, and a decision to get up tomorrow morning and write the next scene, the next thousand words. That’s my Thing. What’s your Thing?