We have forsythia. I doubt
any sign of spring and warm
days ahead could wax
more distinctive. The blast
of yellow is both defiant
and joyful, a snub
of the nose to winter past
and a gauntlet to summer.
As I drove south to New Haven
yesterday, the roadside trees
went from leafless
to budding green,
predicting over distance
what will happen in time
here in my own yard.
Once the leaves burgeon
and the world transforms,
I’ll quickly switch to denial
about the six preceding months of… Continue reading
When I receive an email from a reader asking me to write faster, I always wish I could oblige. The truth is, I’m a steady writer, but not a particularly fast one. I put the hours in and need to go through layers of revisions to produce anything worthwhile. Sometimes my drafts go quickly, but other times they go backwards. I’m amazed at my friends who can write three or four books a year, and I wish I knew how to do the same. Maybe someday I’ll learn.
For now,… Continue reading
When my brilliant sister Nancy O’Brien Wagner gave me feedback on a recent draft of The Rule of Mirrors, she keyed in on certain moments and wrote “More emotion!” in the margins. This is hugely helpful to me, but it does not involve an easy fix, like adding more tears or labeling that my characters are passionate, angry or relieved. Saying “She felt so happy!” only goes so far.
The challenge with writing emotional scenes is… Continue reading
Birthmarked was released five years ago this week, on March 30th, 2010, when I was on a leave from teaching and trying to decide whether I should resign for good. My agent, Kirby Kim, told me to have faith in myself and my writing, but I was concerned that my novel wouldn’t sell and my writing career would be over with my first YA novel. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Birthmarked will have a long tail.”
He meant that Gaia’s story might not start with a flash, but it would keep… Continue reading
If you’d like to make one small change to strengthen your writing, become aware of how often you begin a sentence with “There is…” or “There are…” Almost always, you can revise the sentence to eliminate that opener, and by being more concise, convey information more efficiently. It makes for smoother, brighter reading.
Example #1: There are too many bugs in this pie.
More direct: Too many bugs swim in this pie.
Example #2: There is a small, ugly boy living on my block.
More direct: A small, ugly boy… Continue reading
Our day and night times are both 12 hours today, and spring starts at 6:45, though try telling the weather that. We’re expecting snow, as usual.
Still, I’m thinking warm, summery thoughts, and my novel has turned a corner, too. I can feel how the developing and exploring have brought me to this place, and taking the novel deeper is a new kind of right. Like, yes. At last. Now I can really get to work.