Monthly Archives: October 2011

RTW: Finding Meaning

Okay, so the YA Highway’s RTW topic for today is:

What is your number 1 reason for writing?
Interesting question, and fair warning: I realize I may be way over-thinking this one.
However, I spent this past weekend sitting in a classroom with about twenty other graduate students, talking about death. What we think death is. What we think death isn’t. How we feel about our own death. How death has affected us. How death affects others. Is death a fact? A right? A choice? And as morbid as all that may sound, I think we all realized pretty quickly that one cannot contemplate death without thinking critically about life. What does it mean to live?

Clearly there is no one answer to any of these questions. But for me, life is about finding meaning. I want to engage with and understand the world around me, and writing is the medium I choose to express my thoughts. Through words, I can be wise, foolish, hopeful, despairing, courageous, or fearful. I can be anything. Writing is that one place and process I’ve found where I can most eloquently work through my own ideas about what life is, about what living is.  
So if writing is a way of finding meaning, then for me, to write is to live. 
And that’s why I do it!

RTW: Wait, How Do I Drive This Thing?

Oh, wow, it’s the 100th RTW over at YA Highwaytoday. What a milestone!
And today’s topic?
What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?
When I was a senior in college, a good friend and I decided to take a road trip over spring break. Great idea in theory, except…I didn’t know how to drive. In total Gen X fashion, I slacked off and got my license three days we were supposed to leave. Then I was surprised when it turned out our x-country car was a stick (I could only drive an automatic). Whoops.
But…we made it work through sheer determination. I couldn’t drive in cities, but I could get the car into 5th and out onto the open road for long stretches before stalling out in gas stations and truck stops. I was a terrible driver, but I kind of loved driving. The wind, the speed, the mix tapes, the bad coffee….
My writing journey has been similar, I suppose. It’s always hard to know what you don’t know. I started writing seriously a few years ago, and I wanted to learn more, but didn’t know how to find a crit group or beta readers. I somehow blundered upon the Absolute Write forums, and I was shy and lurked and learned a great deal about writing and publishing through osmosis. But I still didn’t connect with other writers, however, until I made a last-minute decision to attend the SCBWI national conference in the summer of 2010. Then I got over my social nervousness and contacted the sweet Deb Driza on the AW boards because I knew she was going, and suddenly my writing journey veered off the back roads and onto city streets.
After that conference, I joined Cory Jackson‘s crit group in San Francisco, which I love–it’s been a year and we’re still going strong. I also met the YA Highway gals and have since joined them in their YA industry blogging adventures. But more than anything, I’ve done a lot of what I love to do: reading and writing and running.
Like miles on the road or hours behind the wheel, the only way to truly get better at anything is to do it, so the reading and writing parts are probably no-brainers. But, funny as it sounds, running is an integral part of the writing process for me. Being out there on the pavement or the trails is like activating my mind’s own Turing machine. It’s where I find inspiration and answers. It’s where the impossible becomes possible.
So where am I? Still on the open road, I guess, and writing stories I’m passionate about. I’m definitely still learning by doing, which is the only way I know how. And best of all, I’m still loving the journey.