Woah! Guys!! It’s already the YA Debut Author Bash!
It feels like it was just yesterday when I was posting my 2015 Debut author posts. Such a déjà vu moment.
Speaking of déjà vu, I had a total internet fail and ordered a book for my friend…..and when it arrived…It was in French. Whaat? that’s what I get for buying used books over the internet.
So, sorry I’ve been MIA for awhile. I’m attending the ALA Annual convention this year, and going to DisneyWorld, so I’ve been running myself ragged trying to get stuff done.
And then, when it came time to post Jeff Zentner’s amazing guest post, I hit a snafu.
I had this absurd craving for Pizza Hut pizza (last time I ate it was like….2005.)
So I stuffed my face with my cheesy, greasy dinner of champions.
Until suddenly, I had an allergic reaction. I mean, An Actual Allergic Reaction. So….like..airways closing up and everything. I ended up doing an entire treatment (lungs, for my CF, which also didn’t play nice with the reaction.) then took Benadryll.
And of course, you know what happens when you take Benadryll?
Yeah, you zonk out.
Soooo so so sorry. Not only to Jeff (which is the biggest so sorry.) but also to my viewers and my tour director,
So without further ado, here is Jeff’s post, along with a SWAG giveaway!!
Debut Author Guest Post
I’ve written three and a half novels in my life. Each one has been different but each made extensive use of my secret weapon against writer’s block: I go on walks. Every single day, I spend at least an hour outside, walking. Rain or shine–I have a good umbrella. Heat or snow. I’ve gone on walks when it was 106 degrees and when it was three degrees. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten stuck on a piece of writing and I’ve come home from a walk without the solution.
I’m especially fond of going on walks at night. This is the closest thing to meditation I think my unfocused, distracted, mile-a-minute, Year of Our Lord 2016 brain could manage. I find that walking at night sharpens my powers of observation. Until you walk at night, you think of the night as an immense, unformed blackness with no real distinction. But when you walk at night, you see that the night is alive with color: the sky is shades of indigo, purple, and gray. You begin to understand that almost everything in the world is richer and more nuanced than it appears if only you know how to look at it the right way.
Because people have retreated into their homes, the streets are quieter. You begin to notice things like the rush of the wind in tree branches, and how it resembles waves breaking on a beach. You notice that train whistles are actually chords and that there are many different variants. You notice the orchestra of insects in the summer, the skitter of leaves on pavement in the autumn, and how the cold air buries sounds in the winter.
My favorite part is the lights of evening. There are the stars. They remind me that while we hurtle through space’s icy black void, we’re able to walk around on this tiny rock and contemplate our place in the cosmos and our general insignificance. This is a good thing for a writer to think about. Not because it reinforces that the stories we tell don’t matter, but because it reinforces that the stories we tell are all that matters.
I love the lights of the city. I imagine each twinkling light in the skyline, each orange streetlight, as a star that represents a person who turned a lightbulb. A person who contains a rich and beautiful history, whose body is a museum of memories.
But here is my favorite sort of light: I love the light that comes from people’s open windows at night. More specifically–and please hear me out before taking out a restraining order on me–I like looking in the windows. I’m not talking about hiding in the bushes and peeping inside. I’m talking about a quick glance as I walk by on the street. A quick glance to see the family photos on the living room wall. To see what they’ve gathered around together to watch on TV. It makes me think of the fundamental ways that humanity hasn’t changed–we still encircle our fires to hear stories. I look to see what art and mementos they use to decorate. What do they love? What is beautiful to them? Sacred? What are their totems and talismans of memory? It’s pure, distilled humanity, glowing in the dark, the way we as a species glow in the vast emptiness of space.
I enjoy that briefest of communions over what these strangers choose to share with me as I pass by for only a second or two. And from there, awe takes over. Awe at how many embodied universes of memories and experience each house contains in the form of its inhabitants. It makes the world and its possibilities seem that much greater.
This is what storytelling is. We are walking down a dark street and we see a light from an open window. We look in and we see strangers; people who exist outside of us. We see a moment of their existence. We imagine their lives and what memories and experiences they contain–the things that make them who they are. They offer themselves to us for a brief moment and we are allowed to imagine their stories and if we’re lucky, to tell them. And maybe someday the people whose lives you imagined with gather in the warm glow of their evening lights to read these stories.
And here is the most important reason going on walks helps me write: when I walk, I feel my heartbeat. I hear myself breathe. When I listen to my heart beating and my lungs drawing breath, it reminds me that I have only a finite quantity of heartbeats and inhalations. This reminds me that the time to write, to create, is now. It reminds me of how little time any of us really have to write our names on the world.
All this in an hour. Over the course of less than four miles. In an ordinary neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee. All this could be yours too.
Just go for a walk.
10 Signed Bookplates & 10 Signed Bookmarks
I’m so happy to have hosted Jeff! Read his bio below and follow him in all the places that are socially acceptable. (e.g. Social Media) Also, I’m ridiculously happy that I share his love of the word Petrichor. It’s definitely up there in my top ten favorite words in the english language.
What about you, do you have a favorite word? One that you just love the sound of?
And if you’d like, here are the links to my 2015 Debut Author Bash posts: