Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Truths...

1. BLEED LIKE ME is going into second printing. This is amazing. I never expected it. And I'm so incredibly thankful to my readers for buying this book. And I am trying to be grateful for this abundance of reader kindness instead of worry that there will be expectations now. You would not believe how frequently I get in my own way with defeat and worry and a lack of belief in myself.

2. I have been quiet on social media because my heart has been heavy with the difficulties of the world. Sometimes it is very hard to make your insides match with your outsides. Every single day I'm reminded of the complexity of human feeling, how we can be happy and sad at the same time. 

3. I have slowed down a lot in my writing, in my editing, in my life. I don't know if this is the hibernation of winter or the acknowledgment that I need more time to process things. I always want answers, solutions, a course of action, but in the end, one thing solves itself and another thing opens up as a problem. I wonder if we spent more time on resolution then fewer things would be problems. 

4. I finished my copy edits on the alcoholic girl boxer book. I love that book still. I hope other people love it too. It doesn't come out for a year. Publishing is a strange animal with timelines, and yet I find I don't mind waiting as much as I used to. There are a lot of books in the world. It is better for people to read widely than be inundated with just my books. 

5. I did a school visit on Friday in front of an unexpectedly large audience. It is difficult to talk about things as personal as rape in front of so many people. I wonder if other people do this better. If it feels less personal to them so they can get their points across more. I have talked in front of a class of 40 at Northwestern University many times, but an auditorium is a different animal. I have been thinking a lot about this issue of who we owe our story to. Laura Ruby and I are going to write something for the Sexual Violence in YA Lit Project about it. I wonder about the balance of being an out survivor and still protecting yourself enough to share your story in your own words and your own time. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I Learned in 2014

Per usual, I'm hesitant to give any kind of writing advice or truths about publishing because I think all of our journeys are different, and frankly, as I sit here in the same pajama pants I wore most of yesterday, I'm hardly a shining example of "how to get it right". That being said, I'm two books in now and I did discover a few noteworthy things this year that hopefully will help some of you.

1. It turns out everyone is a writer. Seriously. Everyone. I'm at my block party or the grocery store or the kids' winter fest and people tell me about the book they've published or the one they're going to write or this big idea they have. And the way my brain processes this is usually in three steps. First: YES! AWESOME! Everyone should be a writer because it's awesome and I want all the people to come to this party. Second: For the love of cheese, I hope you're not in this for the money because that way will only lead to frustration. Third: Oh God, please don't ask me to help you because I don't have the first clue what I'm doing. 

2. It turns out everyone is working their ass off. So you know how you wish someone would email you back? Or that they'd provide you with this stuff you no doubt deserve? Or that they'd send you that one thing they said they'd get to you by last week? Well, the reason that's not happening is they're working their asses off. I'm quite lucky that I get to see publishing from both sides of the desk because patience is hardly my strong suit, so when I say people are working their asses off, I'm not lying. Writers, editors, agents, publicists. Every damn day is a fire drill of some kind. If you're not being attended to, it's probably because you're a smaller fire behind a giant blaze. (Note: this doesn't mean you should allow yourself to be treated badly and ignored for 6 months, but I trust you know the difference here.)

3. It turns out that people in the publishing community are really for you. You will be absolutely astounded at the number of people in the publishing community who want you to kick ass and sell a million books and have all your dreams come true. And they are generally a hundred kinds of awesome about trying to make that happen. They don't owe you shit but they do it anyway because they're good people. So be gracious and thankful and buy their books and love them back. And if they can't always help you sell all your books because they've got shit of their own to deal with, continue to love them and buy their books and be gracious because that's what friends do. 

4. It turns out that writing is hard sometimes. I failed NaNo this year. I wrote 100k that will never see the light of day. I started and stopped about six books. It wasn't the easiest year in writing. That happens. I kept writing anyway because I love it enough to know that it'll come back to me. I also kept writing because of all the great encouraging things people said to me. I seriously love the writing community. (See #3).    

5. It turns out you don't have to do or be all the things. I talked about this over at PubHub, but really it is worth repeating: do not spend time doing a bunch of things you don't love to sell your books. Yes, you're going to have to do some promo. And sadly that promo cannot just be a Lenny Kravitz Pinterest board (though I highly recommend everyone have one of those as a happy place on the Internet). But promo that you sort of hate doing comes across as promo that you sort of hate doing. So I think it's worth figuring out what promo you like and focusing on that. And if you hate all promo, then you can at least be funny about it. My "Teen Vogue lists BLEED LIKE ME as a great YA book to read over the holidays because there's nothing that says Merry Christmas like self-mutilation and co-dependent relationships" FB post got way more likes and comments than my "Hooray my book is on sale" release day post. Of course, my friends may just like my twisted sense of humor, so there's that.

6. It turns out readers are awesome. By far my favorite part about this year is the number of readers who reached out to me to tell me that my dark and gritty books were the best things they read this year. THIS NEVER GETS OLD. Teen readers in particular are effusive and awesome and basically everything I ever wanted out of this writing gig. I don't have the first clue how they found me, but I love, love, love that they have. 

So that's what I got. In preparing for this blog, I also re-read last year's post which I think is still totally valid, particularly the part about having other things in your life. I don't have another book coming out until January of 2016, which means that 2015 will be a year of learning and stumbling and falling and trying all sorts of different things and I cannot wait. As ever, my life is so full and rich because of all the love and support from this community. Thank you, friends!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Grown-Up Letter to Santa

Dear Santa:

Let’s be honest, 2014 was a very hard year. All you need to do to realize this is look at a few Twitter hashtags (#yesallwomen, #blacklivesmatter). Never before in my life have I seen one year packed with so much sorrow and so much beauty. So many people grieving over what has been lost and so many people coming together to reclaim it.

2014 was the year that many gay friends of mine could and did get married. It was also the year that I felt genuine fear for the future of my biracial boys. I suppose this is the way of life, we cycle through sorrow and grief and joy and so much love. And it is perhaps better for us to experience the lows so that we appreciate the highs, but that is very hard to tell mothers whose children have been hurt or killed.

If I am allowed to indulge in a Christmas wish this year, it is for humans to focus their energy on building each other up instead of tearing each other down. For us to come together more as a community instead of ripping each other apart. It’s a very adult Christmas wish, but I still believe in miracles. I still believe in my kids and their future. I still believe in the deep wells of human compassion and the ability to find within us understanding.

May everyone have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you to all my readers for your letters and your love this year. You have kept my head above water more than you could ever know.

All my love,