On Finding Satisfaction in Publication:
Nothing I write will work for every reader. I can only guarantee that it works for me.
On Negative Reviews:
Think about your absolute favorite book of all time. We all have one. A book we love, one that’s practically perfect in every way. Got the book in mind? Now go to GoodReads. Look the book up. Filter the reviews for 1-stars (because I promise you, it does have one stars). And smile. Because if people can rate your favoritest book in the whole world with one star, then of course people can rate your book that way, too.
On Evaluating a Book’s Worth:
Few books are perfect. If you read like a writer you must read to gain what you can from each book, so reading then becomes a generous act. I tell my students they must learn to be generous readers, and judge each book not by whether it’s the book they would have written but by whether it fulfilled the writer’s apparent intention for it.
On Remembering What Matters:
Words on the page. That’s what was important to us before we were striving to be published…Eventually, all of the glamour and the shine will fade away. The quarter that was dropped into the hype machine will expire, and the machine will go still and cold. But the story will remain. New readers will still find it, even if it’s only available in garage sales. And today’s readers will still remember it. It’s our job as writers to create a story we’ll still be proud of then.
On Relinquishing Control:
Once a book is published, it no longer belongs to me. My creative task is done. The work now belongs to the creative mind of my readers. I had my turn to make of it what I could; now it is their turn. I have no more right to tell readers how they should respond to what I have written than they had to tell me how to write it. It’s a wonderful feeling when readers hear what I thought I was trying to say, but there is no law that they must. Frankly, it is even more thrilling for a reader to find something in my writing that I hadn’t until that moment known was there. But this happens because of who the reader is, not simply because of who I am or what I have done.