Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Vol. I & II

Taking a lesson from my former Vermont College advisor and writing hero Cynthia Leitich Smith who told me to be brave and talk to other writers, I emailed MT Anderson to ask if he had any advice for aspiring authors. And whaddya know? He emailed me back! I've pasted his response below.
Gayleen: Is there one piece of advice you might have to share with aspiring writers?

MT Anderson: Hmmm ... Well, I'd suggest two things, I guess. One is to read as widely
as possible and as eccentrically as possible. I mean reading not just what
you're trying to write, but also ancient hymns and nineteenth century
novels and medieval mystery-plays and Harlequin romances and technical
manuals for VHS recorders ... Anything and everything. Denaturalize your
sense of language and try to always remind yourself of the thrilling
varieties of approach to language and story-telling that people have had
around the globe and throughout the ages.

Then the second thing I'd say -- completely unconnected -- is DON'T BE
AFRAID to take time off of a project between drafts! Give yourself a month
or two at least, and you'd be surprised what insights you have when you
return to the project!

And I guess also, keep working and good luck!

Isn't that cool? I'm pretty ecstatic that a National Book Award winner emailed me.
And I have a challenge for all of you - take a step out of your comfort zone. Whether it is commenting on a kidlit blog, emailing an author you admire or writing something different.

And, I'm off to take my own advice as I attend the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference. My goal is to meet at least ten new people this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.