Tags: writing myths


My preciousssss

One of the questions I'm often asked at school visits or by aspiring writers is I'm ever worried about people stealing my ideas.
The answer is no. And yes.

No, because an idea is only one piece of a story. For something high concept like PRINCESS FOR HIRE, it's a bigger piece. Building up to publication, I did stress that some similar princess story would come out and overshadow mine, but more and more I realized someone else could go write another story about a princess substitute and it would be completely different. I mean, my inspirations WERE other princess stories--Princess and the Pauper & Roman Holiday. And it's not like princesses are a revolutionary plot point. On another note--how many vampire books do you see on the shelf now? There has to be some twist to make it stand apart.
Also,  voice makes a story unique. Characters. What if I'd written this as a tragedy from the princesses' point of views? What if Desi was really mean? What if I did storybook princesses instead of real(ish) ones? And think of your favorite author--I love Sarah Dessen books, not for so much what happens (usually some sort of Issue coupled with a romance), but how Sarah weaves it all together.
Books are like legos--lay the same pieces in front of two different kids, and you're going to have a different creation every time.

But YES--I still do stress (because I am a writer and that is what we do), especially when I have a new project I'm really excited about. Part of me wants to tell everyone about it because it's just that clever. Seriously, my latest idea is always my most genius. So genius, in fact, that I'm not ready to share. Because what if you say it's not genius? OR what if you take a piece of that idea--say the setting--and use it in your story and make it way better? What if Demonic Turkeys are the next big thing and now you write a Demonic Turkey book and it's more awesome? 
See? I go Gollum--my WIP is my preecioussss. It's fun and fresh and fabulous. I have to keep that confidence to even open the word document. Writers can be so fickle and fragile, and if someone suggests the idea is less than stellar, our enthusiasm can pop. If I'm going to devote hours and hours to this book, I have to believe the idea is perfect. And mine, all mine.

This is also why I have to try very hard not to roll my eyes when someone tells me they have a book idea for me. For one, I'm most passionate about the ideas that are my own. And I have, like, a million possible books in my idea file. And usually the suggested idea starts from a dream or is "It's like X movie meets Y movie". Which are all great idea starters, but it's secondhand. My standard answer is: "That's a great idea! You should write it!"

So, no, not worried. But yeah, kind of him. And  I'm not sharing my latest WIP just yet. But, trust me, it's the NEXT BIG THING

* * *

And I have some winner announcements long overdue--

Princess Prize pack goes to...

Brazilian Winner:

Writing Myths: Fame!

In the south, people often say "Bless your little heart" when they aren't really blessing you. I'm not sure what they're doing, but I often walk away wondering if I should feel grateful or insulted.

"Oh, you've got some ketchup on your shirt. Bless your little heart."
"Now she's kind of large, bless her little heart, but she makes great pie."
"Oh, you talk funny and aren't from around these parts and your kids stink at saying ma'am although you have grilled, GRILLED, it into them. Bless their little hearts."

 I've never fully taken on that expression, but I have been keeping a list of things people say about writing that would spurn a BYLH moment. "Oh, you think anyone can write a book? Bless your little heart."
So I'm going to list some of these questions and maybe save y'all from unneeded blessings.

#1. "You're an author? Cool. I've never known anyone famous."
Uh, you still don't.
Sure. Sure. Flattery will get you nowhere. Well, it could get you some THING, and that's a PRINCESS FOR HIRE signed bookmark, because I have a gazillion, as is the case with most famous people. Yeah, signed. Worth MILLIONS.

Now, the definition of famous as I understand it is widely known. Too me, widely stretches beyond people in children's publishing. Widely is when someone who isn't even into what you do recognizes your name. For example, William Shatner. Now, I've never watched Star Trek. I don't even know if I could name one of his movies (oh snap. Miss Congienality. Case disproved). Yet I know who he is because of his FAME, the ensuing bi-product of his work.
With this understanding, you could probably count on your appendiges children/teen authors known by the average person. You have your JK Rowlings and Stephenie Meyers. Maybe the average, non-bookworm is familiar with a few classic authors, award-winners or people-who-had-their-books-made-into-movies. (Oh, so she's the INSERT TITLE lady). But if I pointed to random author on random shelf, would random person have any clue who that author is? No. Thousands upon thousands of books are published each year. That's a lot of trees falling in forests (literally), and sadly few of them make any sound. Well, maybe their family and friends hear it, but it's a very high-squeak.
Also, the beauty of authors is they're not as recognizable. You could sit by one on a plane and not even know it. Famous people, really famous people, don't have that happen. They are noticed. Stared upon. Whispered about. Stalked in LA mexican restaurants by freaky author-women (Hi Magic Johnson. Call me!).
So I think it's safe to say that once I'm published I can still go to Target in my sweats and not worry about the papparzzi shooting a nasty pic that makes Perez Hilton giddy with malice. And that will probably always be the case, or at least until they make my book into a movie and I STAR in it, along with all my closest friends. Because authors have so much say in that.

Yeah, that'll be our next topic.