Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writing Go Round

The world of writing is a merry-go-round. A writer has to juggle the act of creating with the world of marketing if we want our work to get published. Once published we have to deal with promotion and whether the book stays in print. For me, the business side can wreck havoc with the creative side. Yesterday ended with me grabbing a gold ring. But it started with me not even on the ride. Two of the smaller presses that carry my books are going under. One for good and one is being swallowed by a big daddy who has been less than communicative with us authors. We even banded together and hired a lawyer and as treasurer, I have been collecting dozens of small donations from writers who just wanted to say we deserve a say in how our books are handled. We got a few concessions, but mostly what mattered is that together we had a voice.

Last night I had the opportunity to put those concerns aside and talk about the creative part of my work. Spokane writer friend Kelly Milner-Halls put together a panel of local children's/YA authors at our local independent bookstore - Auntie's. Instead of a reading to celebrate her new book Saving the Bagdad Zoo, she wanted to share the evening with her friends and reach out to those who want to write for young people. I came home energized after hearing YA novelist Chris Crutcher talk about the need to find hope in our stories for even the most damaged characters. Terry Davis, author of Vision Quest, talked about the energy it took to work for beauty on the page. Kelly told how by the time a book is finished she hates it. Until she visits a school and a young reader falls in love with it, reminding her why she wrote it. I talked about how the older I get, the more I yearn to go deeper with my writing and that the only way I can, is by letting go of my research, to uncover the theme and narrative arc buried beneath.

Today will offer the same merry-go-round. And it's up to all of us to keep reaching for the ring - any color will do. Riding along with other writers can make all the difference.


  1. Claire, you are right on about this tension between being an artist and being an entrepreneur. It's the creation of art that motivates us as writers. But it's the bottom line that motivates the market for our art. So it's important to support each other in figuring out the business side as well as the creative side. I'm so impressed that you and your fellow authors are working together around the issues with the new company. We are each other's colleagues--even if we are all writing alone in our basements. Good luck.

  2. Thanks, my friend. I had a great night with you and Chris and Terry, too. You were all wonderful. An enriching experience, absolutely.