Writing Advice From Alice McDermott

I recently attended the Washington Independent Review's first annual Books Alive conference. One of the many speakers in attendance was award-winning author Alice McDermott. In college, I read Charming Billy, for which McDermott won an American Book Award and the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction, and loved it. I grabbed a seat at one of the front tables in her breakout session, "What's Novel About the Novel?" I dream of being a novelist, after all. Someone asked the panel a question that I don't exactly remember. But Alice McDermott's response stuck with me. She shared writing advice that resonated with her when she was trying to write and raise small children -- a boat I find myself I at the moment. I'll paraphrase: As soon as your children have left for school or daycare or for grandma's house, clear off your kitchen table with one sweep of your arm (she animated by making a sweeping motion with her arm) and get to work writing. Don't stop … [Read more...]

Novel Dreams

I spoke to a literary agent recently. I didn’t pitch her my novel. I just wanted to get a feel for what the industry is like now. Doesn’t sound like much has changed in the ten years since I worked in book publishing. She was very straight-forward with me and didn’t sugarcoat the process, which I appreciated. She did give me some very good advice: Write the novel that you want to write, the one that only you can bring to the marketplace. Writing a book and getting it published takes time. It’s a long, hard road. Writing from the heart will make the journey, at least somewhat, enjoyable. And what’s the point otherwise? The other great tip she gave me was to build a platform and establish an audience before pitching a book to an agent or publisher. Hi audience! Will you follow me on this journey? … [Read more...]