Friday Feast: 12-Step Writing Process, Writer’s Laze, Working Class Literature, Committing to Diversity When You’re White, and the Middle of Things: Advice for Young Writers

I love reading about the writing processes of authors. You never know what knowledge you can glean and what new nugget you can pop in your writer toolbox. I especially love that Margo Kelly, author of our first link, highlighted reading as her first step.

The last nonfiction book I read was Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. Not only was it well-written and fascinating from a historical context, I made notes about at least five people who would make incredible characters for novels. That sounds terrible when I reread that sentence because it was a devastating tragedy. But you know. Interesting people interest me.

  • If you’re embarking on a new novel — or need to rejuvenate an existing one — check out this 12-step writing process from YA thriller novelist Margo Kelly. As mentioned above, I especially love #1: “I read as many award-winning and best-selling books as I possibly can.” Nothing gets my creativity going like getting lost in reading.
  • Or if you’re unable to embark on a new novel or an existing one for whatever reason, you might find comfort in this meditation on Writer’s laze from Jami Attenberg, whose novel The Middlesteins ranks high on my list of awesome books I wish I had written.
  • Adam Fleming Petty explores the current lack of working class literature by examining “a period, not too long ago, where writing about decidedly un-wealthy characters going about their vehemently non-glamorous lives commanded the attention of both critics and readers” in Dirty Life and Times: The Past, Present and Future of Working-Class Literature. I have a vested interest in a resurgence of working class literature. It’s what I’ve lived, it’s what I write.
  • If you’re white and committed to diversity, but you’re not sure how you can contribute, check out this “quick and dirty primer to better committing to a mindset that thinks about, embraces, and promotes diverse voices, creators, and writing” from Kelly at Stacked books.
  • One of my amazing essay group members just forwarded this lovely article from Andrew Solomon, “The Middle of Things: Advice for Young Writers.” The whole piece is full of gorgeousness, but I absolutely love this: “We have equal things to teach each other. Life is most transfixing when you are awake to diversity, not only of ethnicity, ability, gender, belief, and sexuality but also of age and experience. The worst mistake anyone can make is to perceive anyone else as lesser. The deeper you look into other souls—and writing is primarily an exercise in doing just that—the clearer people’s inherent dignity becomes. So I would like to be young again—for the obvious dermatological advantages, and because I would like to recapture who I was before the clutter of experience made me a bit more sagacious and exhausted. What I’d really like, in fact, is to be young and middle-aged, and perhaps even very old, all at the same time—and to be dark- and fair-skinned, deaf and hearing, gay and straight, male and female. I can’t do that in life, but I can do it in writing, and so can you. Never forget that the truest luxury is imagination, and that being a writer gives you the leeway to exploit all of the imagination’s curious intricacies, to be what you were, what you are, what you will be, and what everyone else is or was or will be, too.”

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