I’d been reading genre fiction since I was a kid. Loved it. Loved dragons and magic and fantasy and adventure and all of that “good stuff.” I spent most of my attention and thoughts on the stories and characters. As I grew older, I have to admit, my curiosity about the authors grew. And with the ubiquity of the internet, I discovered I could actually MEET these heroes (at least digitally). I could read about them and their lives; I could follow them; I could learn more about character motivations and the “behind the scenes” of the novels; and I could learn about the creators of those worlds. It was awesome. It still is awesome.

More and more authors are active online now. In some ways you could say it has become a requirement of the profession. So…in part-pride and part-shame (regarding my partial-author-cyber-stalking) I thought to have today’s “Quotable” come from probably the first author that I actively followed online – Laura Anne Gilman.

Laura Anne is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus books for Luna (the “Retrievers” and “Paranormal Scene Investigations” urban fantasy series), and the award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy from Pocket, as well as the forthcoming story collection DRAGON VIRUS. A member of the on-line writers’ consortium BookView Cafe, she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres.

Laura Anne Gilman Photo © 2009 Elsa M. Ruiz

Laura Anne Gilman Photo © 2009 Elsa M. Ruiz

I had discovered her more personal writing on LiveJournal and commenced following; and perhaps not so oddly our first interactions were about politics rather than writing.  Regardless, she was always gracious and polite and I had the great pleasure (after many years of following online) to meet her in person at Balticon (not 2011)…and get a book signed and share a drink while at it.   So with that introduction, let me put before you a collection of quotes from her online writing, blogging and tweeting that may be of interest to those seeking advice on writing.

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  •  You sit down. You tell a story. You do it any damn way it comes out that works consistently for you. You hope people like it. You hope people pay you for it. You do it again. And again. That’s all I got. Zen and the Art of Writer Maintenance. You can cheer me on and I can cheer you on, but in the end? In the end it’s down to how you get your getting done, done. So get it done.

 

  • Idea + Plotting + Research + Word choice + Editing/revising = Writing.

 

  • The ability to create – to synthesize a new, meaningful reality – doesn’t appear out of thin air. It’s the pooling of everything we think and feel and experience, the observations that we’re not even aware we’re making… You’re looking for new experiences, both small (the taste of a new food, or a style of music you’re not familiar with) and large (learning that yes, you CAN [or can’t], jump off a bridge with nothing but a bungee cord to protect you, and all the emotions that come with that).

 

  • …we often don’t see the implications or undertones of our own work, caught up in the intensity of the writing. Not because we lost control, but because we gave control up to the part of us that delves into our brain and gathers the material we need to tell stories in the first place….Revisions are like that. Yes, you’re looking at the broken bits, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter. But it’s also the chance to see the larger picture, sense the impact of the whole – not only on the characters but on the readers.

 

  • Writers work alone. Unless you have a co-writer, the actual writing of a story involves your brain, your notebook, and your keyboard, and that’s it.

 

  • Sometimes you need to learn

 

  • Conferences [are like] to going to the doctor, for your writing life: you’ll either get an “all clear, keep doing what you’re doing” or you’ll be handed a wake-up call about what you need to change, drastically, in order to get/stay healthy.

 

  • When is enough research, enough? …The advice I follow, and I gave to my writers for years was to treat it the way you would a meal. When you’re reaching the point of being comfortably full, when your body says “we’re done,” then put down your fork and stop eating.

 

  • Often we worry so much about getting the facts right, we forget that we’re also making it all up as we go along.

 

  •  Reading for pleasure is to the writer what muscles stretches are to the athlete: if you don’t, you’re going to hurt yourself.