A love letter to libraries

This is cross-posted at The Season.

Kids at library
©Loretta Humble/sxc.hu

My father was laid off when I was 11. My mom had recently quit her job to train as a teacher.

Being a worrisome child, my first fear was that we’d lose our home. Mom reassured me that wouldn’t happen. My second fear was that I wouldn’t be able to buy books anymore. Mom said, “Honey, I’ll always buy you whatever books you want.”

I’m not sure whether she underestimated my voracious appetite for stories, or how long Dad would be unemployed, but we soon started frequenting the library instead of the bookstore.

The library in our town was tiny. It didn’t have much of a young adult section, and I was always worried I’d get yelled at if I spoke out loud. It wasn’t my favorite place to be, but it was my main connection to stories that helped me escape the toughest years of my life for a few hours at a time.

Over the last year, there’s been a lot of talk in the UK—as I know there has been in the U.S. and other countries—about saving public money by closing libraries. The arguments in favor of this seem beyond daft to me. How can you quantify all that we’d lose if we lost libraries?
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Embracing inconsistency as a writer

I’d love to be one of those writers who can write a thousand words a day, every day.

Scratch that. I’d love to be a writer who can write FIVE thousand words a day, especially if they were all brilliant words.

But I’m not.

There are some days I can write three thousand words. Others I can write two. Not two thousand. Two words.

I used to beat myself up over this, but self-flagellation never helped improve my consistency.

Then, last week at my day job, I had a revelation that helped me see my inconsistency as something to be embraced instead of flogged.

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The camaraderie of novel writing

One of my favorite things about working in an office is the friendship and support of my colleagues. The people I work with are intelligent, funny and compassionate, and having them around helps me be better at my job. Not only do they keep me sharp and help me out when I need it, but I work harder because I know that my success or failure affects them as well as me.

It’s hard to believe that novel-writing has been a mostly solitary profession since it was invented. Novelists would have talked to each other about form and function and frustration when they met in Parisian cafés and New York bars. But they wouldn’t have had writer-friends available to chat with and spur them on 24/7.

The internet and social media have changed that significantly.

As someone who only started writing novels a couple of years ago, I find the same camaraderie and support that I get in my office in the writing community. And just like in my day job, I find myself working harder and refusing to give up because I know other people care about my success.

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Agents who go tweet tweet tweet

Twitter IconOn Nathan Bransford’s blog the other day, there was an interesting discussion about whether agents should blog and tweet. Apparently some writers think spending time on social networks means agents aren’t doing their real work.

It made me wonder whether these writers were complaining about agents on their own blogs and Twitter accounts. If so, why weren’t they doing their real work: writing?

I live in a virtual world. My work is all online, I communicate with most people I know using some sort of virtual connection, and even the books I write are currently only available if you have access to my laptop.

Connecting with people online is vital, and here’s my defense for why agents should be great at social networking.

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Greatest hits of 2010

1930s calculator
Credit: Oliver Gruener, sxc.hu

When I was in high school, I didn’t play sports. Instead, I met athletes by taking stats for our football team (and our basketball and softball teams, but they were girls so my heart wasn’t really in it).

That’s not to say I’m good at figuring out statistics, and since I rarely use math in my day job I’ve  mostly forgotten how to calculate anything.

I love reading statistics, though, so I was thrilled that WordPress emailed me an overview of this blog’s stats for 2010. I won’t share them all with you, but I wanted to let you know my top posts from last year, in case you missed any of them.

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on them the first time around!

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


What hits your hot button? September 2010


Describing how a man smells August 2010


Adopting a pseudonym after developing a social media presence October 2010


When did category romance get this good? June 2010


Writing in an accent that’s not yours September 2010