“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.”
\u2015 T.S. Eliot
A new year is almost upon us, and while January offers no organized writing challenges – nothing like November’s NaNoWriMo, or my BoNoProMo challenge in May – I think the start of the new year is an even better time to re-commit to long form writing, whether you’re working on a novel, a memoir, narrative nonfiction or a poetry collection.
As such, I’m creating a January challenge called First Month ...
One of the first questions beginning and emerging writers often ask is how they can get their first book published. I understand the complicated emotions that lie behind this question: the writer has been working alone, for months or years, hoping to have a book to hold as a measure of success at the end of a long road. I was that writer, once. When I received my acceptance to my MA in Creative Writing program in 1988, I was 25 years old. I wrote out a timeline for the beginning of my career:
Dear Lena Dunham,
This is the literary world calling. We have issues with you. And we’re not shy about posting them online.
Your memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, was published this week. You received a $3.7 million dollar advance. Although we haven’t read your book yet, we feel pretty certain that it wasn’t worth $3.7 million
As writers, we’re obliged to think a lot about the stories we tell: about the way we shape the narrative, the ways in which details we include or omit influence the tone. About the point of view we choose, and the differences in the story each narrator might tell about the very same events.
When I was a teenager, I was arrested with a friend for shoplifting. My friend was, like me, a white girl, and seventeen
“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
– Dr. Seuss
Most creative writers support themselves by either teaching or freelance work – technical writing, advertising copy, journalism