In praise of Scriva Liz, kayaking, and straight talk about tough books

I have this spectacularly epical (thanks MB for coining the best word ever) critique group called Viva Scriva and each and every member is someone I want to hug tightly and feed cookies for ever and ever.  Today, however, I must call out Scriva Liz for straight talk.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find my way back into a manuscript about a teen boy and an eleven-year-old girl thrown together by tragedy.  The lovely Kiersi B. calls it THE FAULT IN OUT STARS meets INTO THE WILD–an apt pitch.  Anyway, I worked hard on it during the winter and had made it to about 50K words.  The first two parts were in decent shape.  The last part was a hodge-podge of disconnected scenes and gaping holes.

As I re-read those 50K words, there was no glimmer or spark.  I felt flat and worried that it was crap.  I complained to Scriva Liz (who has read early pieces of it) about how unenthused I was to work on it (even though my agent wants me to finish it right away).  I wondered aloud if my poor response to it was because it wasn’t good or didn’t have the legs to carry a novel-length story.  She looked at me and restrained herself from a dope slap (I’m extemporizing here) and said, “You feel that way because it’s such a hard book to write.”

Face palm.


This book draws heavily on my own grief following the death of my first daughter, Esther.  It’s not a fun one to write.  No swash-buckling.  No make-outs.  Lots of pain, and I hope, lots of heart.  But it is a story I need to tell, and thanks to Liz, I got to work.  I’m making great progress.  I’m in the zone, and I’m even glad to be writing it.

What does this have to do with kayaks, you ask?  Well, also thanks to Liz, I jammed through my writing goal early this morning (1300+ words, thank you very much) and played hooky for the rest of the day.  We kayaked from Hayden Island up to a floating restaurant, drank margaritas, and gabbed.  It was 80 degrees and we were feeling the love.

As I send you off into the weekend, I hope you have a good one, and I hope you have a Scriva Liz!



5 thoughts on “In praise of Scriva Liz, kayaking, and straight talk about tough books

  1. Amber, it sounds like this is not only a book you need to write, but it’ll be one readers need to read. Good for Scriva Liz, and good for you, for pushing forward on this journey. Hugs!!!

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