Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's the Best Writerly Advice You'd Give Your Younger Self - Marie Lu

Ok first of all, thanks to all who commented and publicized the book giveaway for Carrie Harris' book Bad Taste in Boys! And the winner is - Kelly! Congratulations Kelly!

So today's guest post is by a fabulous author buddy of mine, Marie Lu, who's amazing book Legend is coming out this November. Oh and not only is this a fantastic read, Legend already has a movie deal!! And yes, it will make a fabulous movie! I gotta tell you that I was really privileged to read the ARC of Legend and I really thought long and hard about having a contest for the ARC to continue to promote her book, but selfishness overrode my altruistic desire. I found myself unwilling and really unable to give up my ARC. However, I will have a big giveaway for her book in November when Legend officially comes out so you all will definitely have a chance to win her fabulous YA dystopian novel with a kickass heroine that I adore! In the meantime, here's Marie with some excellent advice:

Being Brave (or at least, less chicken):

To be honest, I've never felt entirely comfortable when giving out advice, largely because I still feel like I have no idea what the hell I'm doing. (It took me eleven tries before I even figured out how to open this guest post.) But even though I'm still learning every day how to grow as a writer, I've at least learned a few lessons along the way that my younger self could've benefited from knowing.

Of those lessons, here's what I think is the most important one: be brave. And by being brave, I mean you need to be brave enough to let go of a manuscript that isn't working. Some of us are so talented that
the very first novel we write will also be the one that sells, and even sells spectacularly. For me, though, I wrote four unpublished manuscripts before I wrote Legend.

It's easy for me to say this in hindsight, but I can still remember my 14-year old self, writing gamely on in the middle of the night, blissfully unaware of how long the journey to publication would be. When I finished that first novel in high school, I honestly thought it would be the one that would make it--even though every agent on the planet rejected my query letter. The problem? My premise was flawed. (To give you perspective, here's what it was about: a shy farm boy in a fantasy land gets a visit one day from a mysterious sorceress, who tells him he is the Chosen One. She then takes him on a quest along with a group of companions to help him find out who he is and how he can fulfill his prophecy to save his world. Um....sound familiar?)

A part of me always knew this premise was flawed even as I pitched it relentlessly, but I was too afraid to let it go. It took me another year to realize that this first novel was never going to go anywhere . . . and then it took me another four years to realize that my second novel wasn't going to be the one that makes it, either.

For me, this was always the scariest part of writing. How do you know when to let go, to put away something that you've worked so hard and so long on? It's not easy. At the moment, it will always feel like you'll never be able to write another one. Staring at a new, blank Word doc might be one of the most daunting things a writer will ever face, but sometimes it has to be done.

When your gut tells you the book is fundamentally flawed, let go of it. You will be able to write another book. And it will be better than the last.


S.J.Kincaid said...

I am so incredibly impressed you started pursuing this in high school, AND pitched relentlessly! It took me years to work up that courage after -college-.

Congratulations, Marie! I'm looking forward to reading "Legend".

Unknown said...

Oh, I love everything about this! Especially that you wrote a novel in high school that was basically already another book--I did the same thing in college, and then was shocked at the rejection!

Erin Bowman said...

Writers are some of the bravest people I know. It takes all sorts of bravery to send a manuscript out into the world, and perhaps even a little more to know when to let it go. Great post, Marie.

Charles Gramlich said...

letting go of a manuscript that's not working. That is brave. I don't know if I have the strength. Well, not often.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Bravery is necessary when writing, isn't it? Thank you for sharing this. I am looking forward to reading your book, Marie! : )

Christina Farley said...

I am loving this series you are doing. Such great advice, too! I can't wait to read LEGEND! It sounds so awesome.

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