"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Keeps us Authors Going

Fan mail

Plain and simple. There's just nothing like it. Any kid who cares enough to let me know they liked my book holds a special place in my heart. And I have to mention a fan Madeline who's read THE EMERALD TABLET 3 times and drew this amazing, awesome work of art.

Aside from her impeccable taste in reading, this girl has serious talent. Notice her attention to detail. Benjamin Holt pinching himself. Proteus Ajax with his arms crossed. The bookshelf containing a globe, a picture of two people, and a Rubik's Cube.
I love this so much! Thank you, Madeline! You rock!

Not yet getting fan mail? I'll move on to what else keeps us authors going.

The joy of feeling like we are improving

Like we're able to see what needs changed in our WIPs and have the motivation to change it.
Like we read a published book and recognize what we think needs changed.
Like we come up with an amazing simile which makes us smile each time we read it.
Like we understand what it is to show and not tell.

I'm about to embark on something new in my writing. I've always written first drafts straight through, but I'm scrapping what I've written thus far and starting again. Fresh. At a different starting point. And hopefully more solid.
I'm nowhere near as gutsy as Cynthia Leitich Smith who scraps her first drafts completely, but for me, just getting rid of what I have so far is empowering. I feel brave. And not the least bit regretful.
Yes, tomorrow, when I'm staring at a blank slate, maybe I will feel differently. Or maybe not. I think the words will flow. I feel good about it.

So what keeps you going? Why do you come back day after day and keep writing?


beth said...

WOW That is some serious attention to detail! Very impressive fan art!!!

What keeps me writing? The belief that every book I write is better than the last one.

And the one day I'll get awesome fan art, too.


PJ Hoover said...

I was really excited about the fan art, Beth! It rocks!
Isn't it a great feeling to know that you are getting better!
And you will totally get fan art!

Kelly said...

That is so artistic (and incredibly sweet)! That must have made your day, PJ!
I do look at my work from years ago and see clear improvement. I hope to one day get fan mail! ;)

PJ Hoover said...

Isn't it sweet, Kelly! It totally made my day. I think people are the happiest when they feel like they are improving at something.

Have a great day!

Carrie Harris said...

That pictures deserves to be framed and hung in your office. Kudos to you and to your awesome fan too!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Carrie! Totally what I was thinking too to frame it!

C.R. Evers said...

Wow! That' drawing is fabulous! That's the best compliment an author can get!!!

PJ Hoover said...

Totally, Christy! It made me feel so happy!

Jim Danielson said...

Cool picture!

Things that keep me going:
Reading blogs like your.

Critiques that help me write better and better.

SCBWI support.

Love of writing/imagining.

PJ Hoover said...

Aw, Jim. You're sweet! I love great critiques, too. Nothing like really helpful feedback that helps us see the light!
And SCBWI rocks!

Hope all is going great!

Tabitha said...

Wow! You are seriously brave. :) And I think that is a sign of a true artist: to see what you've done, know you can do better, and then scrap everything to do it. Go PJ!!! :)

I love the picture!! She sure does have serious talent. :)

What keeps me going? I absolutely LOVE to write. Yeah, it's hard, but SO rewarding. I can't imagine not doing it. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

oooeeee, make me put on the thinking cap.
What makes me come back to writing? A need to express, to create, to share. Characters and stories who lure me with their siren calls. People like you who make me love to talk about what I love.
Your fan art is scrumptious. How much better can it get than someone who re-reads your book and then draws you art??? The closest I've gotten (besides crit group enthusiasm) is a young boy who heard me read an opening paragraph of a story in a bookstore workshop. He was just hanging out listening to the writers read, and when I finished, he sort of hopped up and down and said he wanted to hear the rest. I was stunned, humbled and still need to write that. It sure helped validate what I do in a very visceral way and made me want to get more of that!

beckylevine said...

How fantastic! And I just love not that the detail is in the art, but that those details caught the artist from your book! You really connected with this reader. :)

I keep writing because I can't not. Haven't written in a couple of weeks--it's research org time instead, and it's making me a bit cranky already!

Trisha Pearson said...

Wow! What an awesome picture! It must feel so great to know you inspired a kid to create a picture like that! I would totally cry.

I guess the thing that keeps me going are the stories and characters in my head that want to be on the page. And the desire to hold in my hands a book that I wrote. And now fan art!

mcormier said...

Hi PJ! OMG I'm soooo glad that you liked my picture! I was so excited when my aunt told me that you got it! I love your book alot, and I can't wait to read the next one! Thanks for the complements too!

PJ Hoover said...

I'm with you, Tabitha! I can't imagine not writing. Love, love, love it!

I love talking writing, Tricia! Isn't it the best. And so cool on the reaction to your reading. You hooked him!

Becky, I sympathize totally! I researched/breaked for the last two and a half weeks. The good news is I am so ready to dive in!

I LOVE your picture, Madeline, and you really are so talented! Art is not my strong point, and I'm so impressed when people do it so well.
Thank you again!

adrienne said...

What a wonderful drawing! I love the details, like the shoes by the door.
Definitely a thing to treasure.

B.J. Anderson said...

You ARE brave! I've scrapped the first couple of chapters before and it ends up doing me so much good. Good luck with it! And what a great picture!

PJ Hoover said...

Aren't the shoes perfect, Adrienne! And the rumpled clothes on the floor. Love it!

Thanks, BJ! So far, so good. It is kind of fun to start again!

Lady Glamis said...

That picture really is great! I think fan mail would be so awesome to get. :)

I just scrapped my second draft and started completely over. I may just do that with every book from now on. It's worked pretty well so far!

Danyelle said...

Yay for fan art! :D

Good luck with your new draft. You're much braver than I am.

What keeps me writing is the power of words. They are nothing more than abstract symbols, and yet they have the ability to help us slip out of Reality and into a completely different place. :D

Casey McCormick said...

What an amazing drawing! You are so blessed. : )

I feel like I finally have an understanding of that pesky "show, not tell" rule. Boy has it taken me awhile to get a full mind-wrap on that.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm so glad to hear it's going well, Michelle! You are inspiring!

I know exactly what you mean, Danyelle! Sometimes when I think about the power of little symbols, it boggles the mind.

LOL, Casey! I know what you mean! I think I finally get it, too, and then a crit partner will say "show, don't tell" :)

Thanks for visiting, everyone!

Sheri said...

YOU DO, PJ! Reading this post keeps me going! Thanks!

PJ Hoover said...

Aw, thank you, Sheri! You are the sweetest! And it's so nice to see you around again. I've missed you!

Miriam S.Forster said...

Hooray for brave you! You'll be awesome!

What keeps me going?

Definitely, definitely, definitely the joy of feeling like I'm improving. Which oddly enough goes hand in hand with the joy of writing in general. The better I get, the more fun it is.

PJ Hoover said...

I hear you, Miriam! It is fun, isn't it!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

What keeps me going is hard to say. I have the same problem trying to explain why I love to fly fish. Can't articulate it, it's just intoxicating. Same is true with writing.

If pressed, I suppose I'd say I do love the feeling accomplishment, and whether it's a scene, page, or chapter, I get that feeling, so, that's part of it.

Best regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Kelly H-Y said...

WOW ... that is some awesome fan mail!! Your heart must have been bursting with joy when you opened that one!!! So cool!

PJ Hoover said...

Accomplishment is awesome, Galen! And I'm going to take your work for it that fly fishing is, too!

It was a great feeling, Kelly! My husband had seen it first and managed to not tell me ahead of time!

Thanks for visiting!

Solvang Sherrie said...

That artwork is amazing!

And you are incredibly brave to scrap it all and start over!

Heather Zundel said...

I love this picture so much. This made MY day.

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Sherrie! Brave, yet excited!

Thanks, Heather! I was just thrilled beyond words to get it!