“Only Connect.”

“Only connect.” ~E. M. Forster

From Charlie Gilkey:

“Which element of your best work do you most want to amplify this year?

Instead of considering simply doing more work, take the time to consider which elements of your work would most light you up to amplify. What’s holding you back from amplifying it? Do you think it’s that obscure little thing no one will care about? Or is it that once you amplify it, people will care too much and call the Imposter or Weirdo Police?

There won’t be a time in the future where it’ll be easier to amplify that part of your work.

p.s. You can’t stand out and fit in at the same time.”

Dragons also light me up, of course.

What lights me up is connection–between ideas, between aspects of my life, between people. My novels are about connection in various ways. I work to connect the various facets of my world in order to make them all more powerful. And I write, ultimately, to connect with stories and to connect them with readers. This is a tricky one for me, though, because as an unpublished writer, there’s only so much I can do to amplify the connection factor in terms of readers. I’m not sure how to amplify in this regard, short of continuing to work toward publication. I’ve been working on this for a few years now. I can write a good query letter. My writing samples are on target. Now it’s a matter of continuing to revise my current work in process, Water Witch, using feedback I’ve received from agents–and then resubmitting. Hurry up and wait.

From Todd Henry:

It takes bravery to know your strengths and operate diligently within them. Are you running your race, or someone else’s?

What my family thinks I do. What my friends think I do. What society thinks I do. What I think I do. What I actually do. Yup, this is pretty much what I do.

I’m a writer. Sometimes I feel like bit of an odd duck within the Quest community because I’m not selling anything–I just write. I don’t think I can fairly be called a “business artist” because I’m not doing business. I’m in awe of all the artists, musicians, shamanic practitioners, farmers, counselors, therapists, facilitators, consultants, crafters, and coaches who are all writing AND offering goods and services. Nearly everyone seems to be a writer AND. I am a writer. Period. And right now, I’m not selling books. I hope to someday. Sooner rather than later. When I get discouraged by the speed of my own progress as compared to others’, when I become envious of all those who seem to be “making it,” I’m not running my own race. I need to stay connected to the truth and value of what I do, to the pure power of stories. I need to be true to them and chart my own course. I need to stop comparing my journey to others’ and finding mine wanting, not enough. I’m running my own race when I remember this, when I give myself over to the words and the worlds in my heart and mind and channel them onto the page, when I keep pacing myself while keeping my eyes on the finish line (and realizing that after the finish line, there’s another race, and on and on–or that all these are legs in one great race).

From Jen Louden:

What’s the story you most desire to bring to life in 2016?   

What’s the story your just-right client most desires to bring to life in 2016?

Where do your two stories overlap?

My ideal reader is different from me yet the same in the ways that matter.

I am bringing many stories to life in a literal sense. Like children, they’re all at different stages of development. Water Witch is in revision/submission. When I’ve sent out my revisions to agents, I’ll turn my attention to Silence for critique and revision, and then to Vessel for revision, and while I’m doing this The Glass Box is percolating and then it’ll be time to start drafting Secret Project X which has been hovering at the back of my mind for nearly a year now. I have a long percolation time. But what I want to do first and most in this moment is get Water Witch out into the world. It’s high time that kid moved out of my basement and got herself a job. Freeloader.

As for my “just-right client”–I don’t have clients. I’m working on having readers. I guess it could be argued that they’re the same thing, but I can’t quite wrap my mind around that notion. This question does have me thinking about my ideal reader. But I’m not sure I have an ideal reader–at least not in any conventional demographic terms. I don’t just want to write for teens, or girls, or middle-aged women who have crushes on vampires. My perfect reader is me, I guess, because we are always our own first readers. Or me and people like me–again, not in any demographic sense. My ideal reader is in love with words whether she knows it or not. He loves truth and has his own understanding of beauty. She wants to get lost in strange worlds and emerge a little bit changed from when she entered them. He longs for connection.

In a word, my answer to all of the above is this–connection.

It’s when I connect with a story that the magic happens, and when I share that magic by connecting with readers, it multiplies. It grows heads and changes and grows riotously out of my control. It breathes in life and becomes something apart from me, something of its own, with its own life in the world, and that, for me, is what all of this is really about.

8 thoughts on ““Only Connect.”

  1. Yes! A word I have found myself using over and over this month. And as you know, we are in the same place with “business” no clients yet, no readers/viewers beyond ourselves and the few brave souls we allow behind the curtain. But they are coming. I can hear them tapping at the door.

  2. Yes, yes, yes! Brenna, I feel like we are kindred spirits. Connection, connecting the dots, connecting disparate elements are what I live for. I can’t wait to read your fiction.

  3. Brenna, love this post…and your list of potential readers…you had me smiling at middle-aged women in love with vampires…Add chocolate and you have me. I love questing with you; I know a collateral joy when I’m feeling good about life is how others soar and when I’m down I have to be sure not to compare too. This questing group covers an amazing range of talents, dizzying truly. How blessed are we.

    1. We really are! And it definitely is the comparison (and finding oneself wanting, or thinking one is) that’s rough. I love celebrating other writers’ successes! This group really is amazing. I’m so grateful to have met you here!

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