Thursday, January 22, 2009

Answering the Questions That We Can

I'm enjoying these two looks inside a writer's head:

She talks about her new book coming out in May, Mouse Was Mad. People, I have inside knowledge, and this book is GREAT. I haven't seen the illustrations, but I've heard the text, and it's madly wonderful. 

What every writer wonders: what the heck am I writing about? Am I repeating myself?  What's in our writerly DNA that must be expressed? I make a stab at answering this about my own work sometimes by making word clouds of my obsessions.  What I find is that, yes, the same themes crop up over and over, but for each project, something comes to the forefront, asking to be more fully explored. 

What hit home for me more were her thoughts about putting writerly envy aside, and embracing our own stature.  I read certain writer's books (or even blog posts) and I think: I wish I could do that.  But I can't. More precisely, I won't.  Because I'll be too busy writing about what I must and getting as good at it as I possibly can. 

Edited to add: I also adore what Viviane Schwarz has to say about drawing at 7-Imps today.  
"I think a lot of illustrators see very clear pictures in their mind when they work -– I don’t. I just see movement. So I pick a colour I like and try and capture that movement, and then I work out the line drawing from that."

And that is answering the question the way that she can.  Go look at her work. It's fabulous.

Also, more great insights on writerly DNA: Kirby Larson on A Writer's Fingerprints


  1. The Sara Zarr essay was fantastic. I read it last night. I've always liked recurring themes in author's work. When I respond to them, I know I can keep coming back for more. And what a gift it is to FIND your voice and stick with it.

  2. I love the Linda Urban quote on the perfect book. Thanks for sharing.

  3. though sometimes writer envy pushes me forward - if they can do it - i can dit mentality. :)

  4. Go Sara Z. and Linda - and, always, Sara L.H.!

  5. Glad you enjoyed Viviane's work. She jokes about how what she typed was on the tail-end of insomnia over trying to meet a deadline, but I like what she says, too. ...I love what you say about "writerly envy." Thanks for the link-age.

  6. Aw shucks. Thanks, Sara. I'm off to read that Powell's interview. I'd sure like to feel better about seeming to write the same book over and over . . .


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