Hello and a special thank you to Kristine for hosting me today at Word Whores! I’m excited to be here to celebrate my launch of WILDE CARD, book 2 in my Urban Fantasy Immortal Vegas series. This topic also allowed me to indulge in procrastination-by-quote-sites, since I wasn’t sure that my favorite quotes were the most awesome ones out there. Research was needed!
At long last, however, I settled on the top three. The first one isn’t a quote specifically about writing (actually, only one of my three quotes is!), but it’s the one that’s been a guiding force for me since I first heard it.
“Real artists ship.” —Steve Jobs
Regardless of what you think about Steve Jobs as a person, he was an incredible creative force. And the quote above, attributed to him, shows why: in Jobs’ mind, creating something beautiful or even extraordinary was not enough. You had to actually “ship” that work to market. You had to sell it, display it, get it into the hands of consumers, whatever it took to make your work public.
As authors, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the creative process, wanting to make something perfect. But a beautiful painting that is never displayed isn’t art, and a gorgeous manuscript that sits in a drawer isn’t art. They could be many other things: catharsis, meditation, healing, you name it. But they aren’t art, according to Steve Jobs (and, well, me). Art only becomes art when it is experienced by someone else.
So what does this mean for authors? Get the book done… and get the book out.
“Good writing is rewriting.” —Truman Capote
This quote resonates with me so much because of my particular writing process. As an author who publishes under three pen names (Urban Fantasy as Jenn Stark, Young Adult historical romance as Jennifer McGowan, and New Adult contemporary romance as Jennifer Chance), I have embraced the art of fast drafting. On a “normal” full-writing day, assuming I’m not trying to make up for lost time or writing blog posts, I can draft about 5,000 words. I know that some authors do much more than that! But for me, 5,000 is a good amount. With that speed, working five days a week, I can draft a typical (non-epic) manuscript in three weeks.
And then I have to edit.
As quickly as I draft, I have no problem recasting entire sections of a book, rewriting scenes, expanding or contracting plot points or deepening emotional motivation, all on the fly. Every time I go through a book, I change it, in some cases dramatically. I have to balance this process with the realization that I’m writing on a deadline, and ergo eventually the book has to get “shipped” (see quote above!). But I find that the important thing for me isn’t the writing… it’s the rewriting.
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” —Anais Nin
I’m not an expert on Anais Nin, by any means, but this quote struck the same chord with me as I suspect it does with many authors. I’ve always made my living and my life through writing. Do not ask me to perform simple mathematics, of course, but from my earliest childhood I have written my way to good grades, scholarship opportunities, jobs in branding and communications, the works.
None of that writing, though, has been as exhilarating and at times heartbreaking as my journey to become a published fiction author. Reclusive and conflict-avoidant by nature, I’ve found myself forced to grow and become stronger as a result of my desire to be a full-time author, eventually finding ways to share my stories via both traditional and now Indie publishing. I’m learning all the time—and still have so much to learn—but my lessons these days are not just about craft. They’re about strengthening my voice, both the one on the page and the one that whispers in my ear, telling me to take the next leap. It’s an amazing process, and one I hope to continue for a long time to come.
Being an author is not an easy job, but it’s the only job I want. I’m grateful every day that I get to work with words. And to borrow a John Buchan quote favored by my first mentor, Terry Maley, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”
So what about you? If you have a favorite quote, list it below and explain why—or consider creating your own Top 3 List!
You can find her online at www.jennstark.com, follow her on Twitter @jennstark, and visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorjennstark.