Going Quiet-Absorbing the Wisdom of Quotable Tuesday

Like Jessica Powers, I love being busy and stacked up with projects. There’s an aliveness to it. I love doing a little bit everyday and inching toward the finish line. As a single mother and writer with multiple jobs, that life works.

Until it doesn’t. Until you find yourself, like Julie Larios, needing to go fishing.

That’s when I hear Kathy Nuzum and Janet Fox and all the other writers at Quotable Tuesday who have joined me to share their wisdom that gets them through the times when writing seems like the craziest (pre)occupation in the world

I have a revision to do. I have a memorial to write. I have a teen going off to Europe. And right now, that’s all I can focus on.

Quotable Tuesday will return but, for now, I need to go quiet.  I need to listen to Caroline Carlson‘s wisdom and remember “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Be well, my friends.


Quotable Tuesday-Anonymous

Quotable Tuesday is place for writers and artists to share the quote that sustains them though the times when writing is tough, when we aren’t sure, when we wonder if the world needs our story. Sometimes, though, a writer comes across a quote that crystallizes everything a writer is and he realizes it isn’t his lot in life.

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” – Anais Nin

This quote comes to me from a dear friend who prefers to remain anonymous. Of the quote, he says, “You may recall that for a number of years I struggled with a manuscript, convinced that I had a book in me. When I came across Nin’s quote it became evident to me that though I did enjoy writing I was a lightweight and did not “breathe”, “cry out”, or “sing” in it. This contributed to my decision to focus my energies in other areas (raising a kid for one) and retire from my non-writing, writing career.”

This decision is a powerful one. I admire your bravery, my friend. That you love writers and books is as important as your choice not to write.

Quotable Tuesday-Nancy Bo Flood

Today at Quotable Tuesday, I am thrilled to welcome fellow VCFA alum and author Nancy Bo Flood. Rather than simply share a quote and what it means to her, Nancy wrote an essay about writing and I am going to get out of the way and let her take the floor.

Sitting Down to Write is Just Plain Hard
By Nancy Bo Flood

Writing is fulfilling and soul-feeding – but it’s also just plain hard.  Each time I sit down to write, I feel I am leaping off a cliff only to land in a murky current of self-doubt:  Why do I think I can do this?  And why does it take so LONG?! It’s daunting!  The sheer amount of writing required to create one damn good paragraph is unbelievable, unless you write.  Annie Dillard, the author of The Writing Life, states,

“How appalled I was to discover that, in order to write so much as a sonnet, you need a warehouse.”

Because soon as a writer you will be surrounded by piles, drawers, files and indeed, a warehouse of drafts, revisions, notes, sketches, ramblings….your writings!  Annie’s book often gives me comfort – and courage.

As writers we have to jump off that cliff over and over again, but we don’t have to drown in the muddy bottom of it. The Writing Life is one of my life jackets.  Annie describes all the ways I dodge writing time.  She does all the crazy procrastinating things I do, including trimming her nails, staring out the window, or at the wall, and checking on the grocery list.  She hits me in the gut with truth and then she makes me laugh.  Okay, maybe I’m not such a weirdo.

As writers we create many books.  Many never get written.  Many are thrown away.   How does it happen?  Annie says,

“You lay your pages out…and pace out the work…After you have taken an exceedingly dull nine-mile hike…you go home and soak your feet.”

After ten years of writing work, my YA novel, Warriors in the Crossfire, is a “real book,” alive and well, the recipient of several wonderful awards.  My newest novel, No-Name Baby, which took half the time, only five years to write, is out.  Each time a child or adult writes to me to say “my book made a difference,” then I am ready to jump off that cliff again, sit in front of a blank page or a warehouse of chapters, and write.

Thank you, Nancy, for being so generous and wise and courageous.

Quotable Tuesday-Tami Lewis Brown


Today at Quotable Tuesday I am delighted to welcome fellow VCFA alum Tami Lewis Brown. She is the author of two incredible books for children: SOAR, ELINOR–the true story of America’s youngest pilot Elinor Smith–and THE MAP OF ME–the story of Margie who goes in search of her Momma and finds herself.

When I asked Tami what quote shores her up as a writer, she chose a very special one:

It is only with the heart that we see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eyes.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“My greatest writing joy comes from probing those places in my heart to find the invisible real and trying to capture it on paper,” says Tami. “I’m inspired by Saint-Exupery, not just by his (pretty darn weird) but best known book THE LITTLE PRINCE but by his beautiful aviation writing in NIGHT FLIGHT and WIND SAND AND STARS. He inspired me as I wrote my first book SOAR, ELINOR! and in a sort of mystical way helped me to see with my heart.”

If you want to meet Tami, you could go to Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on June 16 for Become a Pilot day or drop by the Smithsonian anytime and see the recently added exhibit about Elinor Smith. Tami says she’s been making quite a few appearances at that exhibit. Bravo, Tami, keep flying high.

And thank you for the Saint-Exupery quote. It is one of my very favorites.

Quotable Tuesday-Caroline Carlson


Today at Quotable Tuesday, I am so pleased to host friend and fellow VCFA alum Caroline Carlson. Caroline and I had the extraordinary pleasure of sharing the wit and wisdom of Julie Larios during one semester together. When I asked Caroline what quote keeps her going through the vagaries of a writing life, she said, “The quote that keeps me going in my writing life isn’t particular to writing. In the fourteenth century, the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich wrote:

“…but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

“I love so many things about these words—the way they repeat; the way they insist upon themselves. I love that they appear at the end of my favorite T.S. Eliot poem. And most of all, I am happy to know that a fourteenth-century mystic had to remind herself that everything would be all right, because I have to remind myself of the same thing every day.

“Writing can be an anxious business. There’s always something to worry about, if you go looking for it: Is my plot original? Have I chosen the right point of view? Will children relate to my story? Will I find an agent? An editor? Will anyone ever want to buy this book? Will anyone ever want to read it? Do I really have to sit down and write again?

“It can be hard to tug your thoughts away from these spiraling doubts; like Julian’s words, they build upon themselves and strengthen themselves until you’re left staring at a blank page and thinking you could really use a bowl of ice cream or a glass of wine. Never mind that it’s 10 a.m.

“That moment—the 10-a.m.-ice-cream moment—is when I say to myself, sometimes aloud, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” It’s a way to fight back against the part of you that insists you will fail, or reminds you that you’ve already failed. Things may not turn out the way I’ve planned, but in order to move forward with my writing and with my life, some part of me has to believe that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. If I repeat those words, I’ll start to believe them. I’ll dust the doubts out of my mind, leave the ice cream in the freezer, and start filling up the page.”

As you did here. Thank you Caroline. And congratulations on selling your middle grade novel, tentatively titled MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT with a publishing date of Summer 2013. All shall be well.