Tag Archives: editor

The kindness of book people

IMG_4920This weekend, I was lucky enough to spend three days in beautiful Dumas Bay with book people. I woke today wondering how to capture the SCBWI-WWA retreat in a blog post.

Bald eagles.
A run in the rain.
Cookies and whisky.
Feeling like a giantess in my tiny convent room.
Hilarity and sand dollars.
Open hearts.

How could I give this to you, I wondered, in a wrapping of words that captured falling leaves and infinite mud flats and the way sound carries over water?

Then my writer friend, Kiersi, posted an article about what makes relationships last.

The answer? It is so simple. Kindness. Walking toward the outstretched hand and taking it. Holding out your own.

In one of the sessions this weekend, Sara Crowe, talked about the characteristics of career authors. One of them was to be kind, to reach out your hand to the editors and the assistants, to the published and the not-yet-published, to all you meet along the way. And while he might not have realized it, Andrew Karre reminded us to be kind to ourselves, to shut out the noise of reviews and the market, the expectations of genre, and the general cacophony that gets in the way of turning the multitude of wonders in our cupboard into story.

So this is what I want to tell you about my weekend: It was replete with kindess.

  • The kindness of Sara and Andrew when they talked about their authors and their books written and unwritten.
  • The kindness of critique partners who saw strength in the craft of others and named it.
  • The kindness of writers who shared the stories of their hearts with me and who, in turn, listened to my own. 
  • The kindness of laughing together (and leaving no one behind on the mud flats).
  • The kindness of every moment that honored both the gifts and challenges of this thing we do, this thing we share, the way we strive to bring forth the story only we know.

Thank you, Andrew and Sarah. Thank you, Allyson and Lois. Thank you, compatriots. It was a beautiful weekend.

Me and the Deadline God

The Deadline God by Wylie Elise Beckert

The only thing I like about deadlines is telling people, “I’m on deadline” and watching the impressed/sympathetic look on their faces.

Really, that’s the only thing.

Getting things done as a writer (with all those hours and hours of potentially distraction-filled time) is knowing your own process, especially knowing what is likely to get you bogged down. I have learned to read myself pretty well.

Stuck but almost breaking through the wall feels one way, and it means I need to stay in my chair and power through. Stuck but depleted feels different and means I need to get out of my chair and take a run to recharge my batteries. Stuck and never doing this again requires whiskey.

One thing I know for sure is that I don’t like or need deadlines. I know what needs to happen to get a book done, and most of the time, I like doing it. I plan my time so that there isn’t a rush to finish line. I don’t do my best work under pressure or time-constrained or sleep-deprived. I am not a sprinter. I do endurance best.

On the wilderness canoe trips we take every summer, I carry a very heavy pack (half my body weight) over portages. I am slow but I don’t stop much and I get to the end when I get there. On the lakes, I can paddle for hours–not fast but steady. I’m a long-distance kind of gal.

But sometimes things happen.

In the lead up to the book I turned in yesterday, for example, I had three travel days for work, tax day (with unexpected complications), my daughter’s birthday party, Passover (hosted at my place), and my usual everyday stuff.

So I needed an extra day from my editor, which she was happy to offer, but made me feel like I’d let myself down. (Mantra: professional writers meet all deadlines.) And I had to work in a pound-it-out way that is very far from my natural rhythm.

Now I know there are those of you who love deadlines, who relish the chase and love the hot breath of the Deadline God on your neck. Happy times for you people!

But me…

… not so much.

If you don’t mind, I’ll get back to work now. There are deadlines in sight, and I plan to meet them for a civilized cup of tea.