Friday, April 17, 2009

What I'm Doing Instead of Writing

I've been floating around some author websites lately for something new. There's a part of me that wants to move past the agent blogs I've been stuck in. Just because I'm stuck on the agenting thing doesn't mean my computer needs to be!

So I've been wandering about looking at where I hope to be someday: out there, with a biography and a books tab and a contact page. I'm interested in what those websites look like because I don't want to be a total boob when I set my own up. I mean, I can be all scrapbooky and flighty here on the blog, but I want my someday website to be sleek and minimalist, with clean lines and great photography.

It's been really fun to see how so many of the websites reflect the author's personalities. Take Audrey Niffenegger's website. It hardly needs to load to recognize that she's equal parts writer and artist. It's as unique and creative as her book is.

Some authors' sites are created more about them than by them, an impersonal place to find out who they are and what they've written. But more often than not, they are like letters from the author to the reader. They are the kind of websites that, when you have finished perusing, you feel like you know the author. They are a friend. A kindred spirit. A mentor.

So today, I am leaving you with the encouraging words of Jodi Picoult. While I have a tidy pile of rejections slip, a few manuscripts still out with agents, and the beginnings of several new books I am doubting, I needed to hear this. Even if I've heard it all before.

Keep sending out your work and don't get discouraged when it comes back from an agent - just send it out to a different one. Attend signings/lectures by authors, and in your free time, read read read. All of this will make you a better writer. And – here’s a critical part – when you finally start to write something, do not let yourself stop…even when you are convinced it’s the worst garbage ever. This is the biggest caveat for beginning writers. Instead, force yourself to finish what you began, and THEN go back and edit it. If you keep scrapping your beginnings, however, you’ll never know if you can reach an end.

Have a great Friday all, and a good weekend!


  1. Wonderful!

    I liked the art in Time Traveler's Wife- having spent one glorious turbulent year in art college I could tell she knew exactly what she had Clare doing. (Just wait til Clare gets her own little backyard studio - want want want!!)

    I think a really personal author website is intriguing. Even though I've spent so much time thinking about the imaginary line where the writer ends and the character begins, I love to see the real person behind the created ones.

    And I love the quote you ended your post with. Thanks!!

  2. I saw Jodi Picoult speak at a conference and she is amazingly encouraging (she got me all fired up!). I've never read a single one of her books and I love her!

    Also, for a bunch of author websites, go to (they're a website designer and I think they strictly design for authors). It's a great place just to browse through many different author sites to see what content they have and how they've decided to lay it out. Also, strangely enough, (and click "view author members"), it will take you to a directory of websites. Just FYI for your perusing pleasure!

  3. Heidi - I didn't know you went to art college! Learn something new every day!!

    I like seeing the real person, too. It's like seeing an actor in a movie, and then seeing them on a talk show and realizing they really aren't the character they play.

    Kimberly - Well, I can tell I won't get much writing done today either! I can't wait to get to those sites! Thanks for the links!

    I love some of Jodi's books, and others I really don't like at all. I stopped reading her for a while, but I'll probably pick one or two up this summer. What I do like is that, despite all her fame, she seems very humble and down to earth. I like when authors remember how hard it is at the beginning!

  4. I took Craft and Design; I was going to be a potter, a ceramicist. I loved it but not enough to do it full time- it's not a career, it's a life. Meanwhle I'd keep griping about not having enough horse time.

    Then in the mandatory english class I wrote a short story that shut everybody up for about two full minutes and my buddy said later, "Why are you playing in the mud when you should be writing?"

    Maybe that'll go on my author website some day!

  5. Great post. I think we all need to hear that kind of encouragement. I also have a stack of rejections but decided I sent out the book too soon and have spent a long time editing and trying to make it better.

    As for websites. I like the kind that are personal but not overwhelming with so much information that you don't know where to look first.

    In regards to reading. I find I really ebb and flow. Sometimes I overload on new books and sometimes I'll go months without reading. I need to find a balance.

    Good luck.

  6. When I get discouraged I watch a documentary on one of my favorite authors and it re-inspires me every time. I can't imagine ever giving up. It's my love and my life.