Monday, February 29, 2016

Mid-Career Monday: Staying at THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH with Carol Snow

For those YA readers also reading adult books, please discover CAROL SNOW. Here I'm celebrating her latest young adult novel but Carol has been racking up rave reviews and populating "best" lists in both YA and contemporary women's fiction since bursting onto the publishing scene in 2008. So, I asked her...

At this point in your writing career, how do you choose (or plan) your next writing project? And, are you ever torn between young adult and adult writing projects?


Recently, while pissing around on social media when I should have been writing* I came across Henry Miller’s Eleven Commandments of Writing. I can’t** verify that Henry Miller*** actually wrote these rules; they may well have originated from an especially creative Pinterest user, though I doubt it****. In any event – and I’ll stop with the asterisks***** -- three of the rules (which, in my humble opinion, could have been condensed to one, leaving him with a more manageable nine commandments), spoke to me, and to your question:

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to "Black Spring."
  3. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.

For me, the biggest challenge isn’t deciding what book I want to write next; it is focusing on the project at hand. There is a kind of honeymoon phase whenever I start a book. It is going to be the Best! Thing! Ever! And then … about a hundred pages in … it is the Worst. Thing. Ever. I’ve lost the momentum, yet the end is nowhere in sight. At this point, some new idea inevitably starts lighting up my brain, and the temptation, like a serial dater, is to dump the current project and move on to the next one, flush with the certainty that it will be the Best! Thing! Ever!

I’ve been writing for a long time now (THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH is my ninth published book), so, when I am looking for new book ideas, I have a lot (too many) to choose from. I’ll typically choose YA-versus-adult based on market concerns (i.e., if an editor wants to work with me or if I feel I’ve gone too long without producing something for a segment of my readers). But choosing which story to pursue can be tough and generally involves writing some sample chapters to see if I can find a voice, outlining story arcs, and talking to my agent. After that, I try to forget the books I want to write and focus on the project at hand. And Pinterest.

*This describes much of my waking hours.
** am too lazy to
*** philistine alert -- I’ve never read him
****more likely WordPress
*****It seems like there should be a different plural. Asterises?

*Adding my own asterisk here just to say, SEE THE WORDPLAY in this blog post title now?