Monday, December 8, 2008

For Monday, a Quote

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable."

- Madeleine L'Engle

In other news, since everyone was so kind a couple of weeks ago when I was tearing my hair out over the writing of Bitterblue, I should let you know that I've worked my way into an easier stretch. If I'm going to share the bad parts with you, might as well share the good parts, too, right? Also, my sister, secret code name: Cordelia, has Part I in hand and will be giving me feedback sometime soon. Traditionally, it is Cordelia's job to read what I'm writing and make a pronouncement about whether it is (1) a pile of crap, or (2) a book. The wonderful thing about Cordelia as my first reader is that she is extremely honest and critical, but she's also respectful, gentle, and supportive. Every writer needs a Cordelia!

Do you have a favorite quote to share? Or, if you're a writer, will you tell me about your first reader(s)?

:o)

24 comments:

Sarah Prineas said...

Good morning!

Glad you've hit a smoother stretch. And yay for first readers! I have several. One is my dear friend Jenn, who is an enthusiastic, supportive reader who makes great suggestions about plot and taught me the term "cascading action scenes." Another is Sandra (ahem!) who is the master of structure. Another is Chance, who told me book one would sell and "do well," and who is the harshest critic in the entire world. And finally, there is Greg (gregvaneekhout on LJ) to whom I send just about everything. I've been driving him crazy lately sending him drafts of book proposals to which he responds, "erm, this is good, love the exploding thingies, but there is no plot here." At which point I go "arrrrgghhhh!!!!" and start again.

Anyway, the best advice I ever got about writing was from Greg, and it was:

NEVER SURRENDER.

beth said...

Favorite Quote: "I hate quotations." --Emerson :) I love it when people don't get the irony.

My beta readers: I found a great group of women online that I share with, but mostly, I just reach out to people in the community. I throw my book at anyone not slow enough to dodge it and beg for whatever feedback I can get.

But, to be honest, the husband also contributes to the whether or not it = a book question...he's always supportive, but also thinks of ways to make it better, too.

Carrie Ryan said...

Yay for the easier stretches -- and I'm glad you posted about it because it's always wonderful to be reminded that the easier parts exist :)

My reader is my fiance, JP and it sounds like he plays the same role as your sister. it's up to him to tell me if it's no good or if I'm on the right track. He's also a really fantastic cheerleader of my work. Thankfully he's always honest! He's always the reader I have in mind when I write as well.

NoGrandmother said...

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground
(Mevlana Rumi Mathnawi, trans. by Coleman Barks)

I always feel very shy and hesitant to ask folks to read drafts for me. The two people I ask most often are my friend D., whom I have known since college and who is good for pointing out the "small stuff" (conflicting details, etc.) and my friend Cin, who is a screenwriter and has a great eye for story arcs and for firmly establishing place.

Recently I saw that a hifalutin anthology had a due date of that day, so I polished up a story no one has ever seen and sent it in. Brave or foolhardy? I guess I'll find out in February.

alex milway said...

my other half used to read all the nonsense I'd come out with, then one day said she'd never read another thing unless it was finished. The thing I finished, the next thing she read, was my first published book.

First readers are very helpful ;)

tinkandalissa said...

"We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." -Carlos Castneda

Yay on hitting a sweet spot! Cant wait for one of those myself. I finished a children's book recently and have it out w/my uncle the tattoo artist who is supposed to do the illustrations for me! I also completed a short story and am going to submit it into a SS contest to see if I can win some money and get it published. I will take anything I can get right now!
As for my novel...it has been on sort of a back burner since I moved in September. I am working on it in spurts whenever the mood hits me, but I think after the holidays are over I am going to amp it up. That will be one of my New Year's resolutions (not that I ever do them). But, I am sure that will be another topic for another day...
As for my readers, I started out with my mom, my grandmother, my best bud of 16 years, another good friend and occasionally my husband. I have since narrowed that down because I decided that trying to make all of those people happy was stressing me out. They all have such varying tastes in what they read, I didnt feel like it was all constructive. Now, I run a few things by my mom, but primarily rely on my bestest buddy, Kristy. She keeps me excited about completing this book! My friend, Nicole, keeps it real and tells me like it is. My husband has been pretty supportive also.
Let's see if they can make it through the end of this one and the ton of other ideas I've come up with since starting!

Amela said...

"be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."--Dr. Seuss (aka genius).

Simple, maybe, but powerful for me. I first heard this in college, probably the time when I needed to hear it the most. I love that it reminds me to be unapologetic about my quirks and weirdness!

By the way, I've never commented here before, but I read your blog constantly and love it. I'm starting grad school in January for a degree in Library Science so that I can do my little part to make sure that your books are read by kids and adults (like me)!

Emily said...

"Classic -- a book which people praise and don't read." - Mark Twain

This makes me feel better every time I feel bad about myself for not having read most of the "classics" we were assigned in school...and for actually reading classics that I chose for myself to read as a grown-up.

My first readers are my boyfriend, Mark, and my best friend, Amelia. Mark is extremely harsh and critical, and has no problem telling me when my draft sucks and my characters are bitchy. Amelia is always encouraging and manages to tell me where my blunders are without making me want to trash the whole MS. They balance eachother out pretty well...but I must admit that Mark could bear to learn the art of sugar-coating :)

Lexie said...

I have a lot of favorite quotes XD

The one I have on my desktop wallpaper right now however is:
'We do what we must, knowing each day comes at a sacrifice'

as far as beta readers...I post snippets that I don't cringe when re-reading to my LJ, and my friend Melissa reads for me as well offline. I used to let my younger sister beta read for me, since her puncuation and grammar is better then mine by far, but then she started to share the bits she thought were really stupid with her friends and they'd all make fun of it, so that ended that!

Victoria said...

Since I am a quote fiend, how about I give you 8. They always put a smile on my face.

"Put your shit out there and own it!" -Matthew Lillard

"Not by constant severity shall you have access to true wisdom, but by abandonment, and childlike mirthfulness." -Thoreau

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London

"Imagination is everything. it is the preview of life's coming attractions." - Alber Einstein

"Replusion is the sentry that guards the gates to all that we desire." - Salvador Dali

"Have no fear of perfection--you will never reach it." - Salvador Dali

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces towards change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." -Helen Keller.

"Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry."

Now these words may have been said for other purposes, it does not detract from the power and strength they can give to a reader. So hit Bitterblue with a club, charge on to the next page; because if we didn't work hard and change our situations, there would be no Butterflies in the world.

saiyengirl said...

Seeing as I just got 3/4ths of the way through my own novel, I just handed it to 3 of my good friends at school to read over Christmas break.
One of the girls is a writer like me and keeps telling me how insanely jealous she is that I got to sit down and write out my story. She's brutally honest and tells me like it is. Always good to have one of those around. She's also been with me on this thing since I started and encouraged me to get it written.
The other two are terribly sweet girls and finicky with books, so I know that they'll give me an honest opinion too. All of them are just so enthusiastic to read what I finished. It's kind of amazing to have people so excited over it.

This is probably not the nicest quote of all time, but it just hits me right there when I think about writing.
""I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity."

ICQB said...

"I'm not making this up - I'm imagining it!" Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.

Stacey said...

This is my favorite quote:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

I think it speaks to many points in time including where we are now. and i think in many ways this quote is how i judge people and characters in books. so many of the bad guys in books have other's doing their dirty work, and i think that's an interesting statement. but any who. i could probably write about this quote for hours hehe. But its great that you have such a good beta reader. I've offered to read some stuff that friends are working on, so i'm excited to become part of that world once they finish their work. Oh, i passed your book along to my mom. she's about half way through and i think she's enjoying it. I havent had much time to talk with her about it though, my parents are at the end of a remodle to their house and i was liked out of mine last night, so life has been a little crazy hehe. but i keep telling everyone i can about Graceling!

Charly said...

My most recent favorite -
"Home is where the heart is, so your real home's in your chest." - Captain Hammer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

I feel like Dr. Horrible is all I talk about here... xD

Anonymous said...

A quote for you:

To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.

George Washington

~ Annie

Anonymous said...

One of my readers is a very close friend who provides gentle but accurate critics.

And in an unrelated comment, I just have to say that I just found out we share the same editor, and that you deserve GREAT CONGRATS on your nomination for ALA's William C. Morris Award. I am crossing my fingers for you!!!

Teri Hall
THE LINE
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Fall 2009

kristin cashore said...

Dear Miss SP: I remember NEVER SURRENDER and tell it to myself a lot, ever since you mentioned it! And someday you'll have to tell me about cascading action scenes.

Beth -- great quote :o) and yay to a husband who's a good reader!

Carrie, JP sounds like a good guy :o)

Owlet, awesome, awesome quote. And I understand. I am really selective about who I give my ms's to, and no one sees them before Cordelia's given the all clear.

Alex, that's a great story!!

Tinkandalissa, good quote, and I had to laugh, because I agree it's impossible to please everyone! At a certain point in my reader process, I always have at least one case of different people expressing exactly opposite opinions about the same point in the ms. I always take it as evidence that I can just do whatever *I* want, because why not, when there's no definite right answer? :o)

This comment is getting LONG so I'm going to publish it and start another one....

kristin cashore said...

Hi Amela -- I agree totally about Dr Seuss being a genius. And good luck with school ^_^. I ♥ librarians.

Emily, sounds like a very nice balance! :o) And I know what you mean about the classics. Truth is, there are SO MANY classics. I'm particularly behind when it comes to reading the stuff that wasn't originally published in English. (One of the drawbacks of getting English degrees -- I think they could emphasize translations more!)

Lexie, oh dear me yes, that does sound like the end of that! Sometimes I don't think people realize how personal our writing is and how scary it is to share it with people...

Victoria, I like the Helen Keller one in particular. I love quotes that remind me that I'm not in control -- they help reduce my anxiety. Thanks!

Saiyengirl, I own "A Knight's Tale" and LOVE Paul Bettany's Chaucer (Paul Bettany is a magnificent actor, imo), so I recognized your quote right away!

ICQB, Stephen Colbert is always quotable :o)

Stacey, sounds like things are a bit nutty, thanks for the quote :o)

Charly, well, after all, what are you gonna do when I ask you for a quote? Captain Hammer is so quotable! Here's one I always love from Serenity: "This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then explode."

Annie, that's a really nice quote. Thank you!

Teri, I just have to say that you and I are two of the luckiest writers in existence. Our editor is THE BEST EVER, isn't she? Great to meet you, and thanks so much for the congrats! It's still sinking in... I'm so happy!

itdependsontheday said...

"no time for ninja squares" by me
the book im (finally) writing was just read by a friend of mine (codeword: random) and said it was pretty good. then again, its only two paragraphs long so far.

Marcy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcy said...

Oh dear. I have so many favorites! Quotes are one of the things I collect. However, since I am once again checking your blog at work (bad, Marcy, bad), I don't have my full collection at my fingertips, just what I've posted on my blog. This is probably just as well. Let's see...


‘But surely,’ said Lord Ickenham, ‘that speaks well for him. The capacity to jelly an eel seems to me to argue intelligence of a high order. It isn’t everybody who can do it, by any means. I know if someone came to me and said “Jelly this eel!” I should be nonplused. And so, or I am very much mistaken, would Ramsay MacDonald and Winston Churchill.’” from "Uncle Fred Flits By" by P.G. Wodehouse


“The writer asked if Tolkien would ‘tell us some more about the name and inception of the intriguing hero of his book….. It would save so many research students so very much trouble in the generations to come. …’

‘…But would not that be rather unfair to the research students? To save them trouble is to rob them of any excuse for existing.’” from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien


“‘What are those things on the side of your head? Does nothing you hear reach your brain?’” from The Briar King by Greg Keyes

Also The Briar King:
“‘I have an idea,’ Cazio said, after a moment.
‘What a lonely creature it must be.’”

And from friends and family:
"I do my best thinking in the shower, so now that we don't have very much water I don't get much thinking done."

“I like pi + i because it’s kind of like me: it’s complex… it has rational and irrational parts… and the rational part is imaginary.”

“It’s a good thing I’m not a fallacy so I’m not dumb.”

Um... more here: http://quettandil.blogspot.com/search/label/quotes

kristin cashore said...

Marcy, heh heh -- the shower one and the pi one from your family are my favorites :o)

drabbits3 said...

My favorite quote is from A Stolen Past by John Knowles (better known for A Separate Peace): Life is fighting. In life it's the look ahead that counts. We are all born equally far from the sun. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love.
Pretty much sums up all of life.
dana in chicago

Ceceilia Loeschmann said...

My Facorite Quote would be ...

"Shoot for the moon even if you miss you will land among the stars."Unknown