"It is only by expressing all that is inside that purer and purer streams come."
My favorite Writing Books:
The Virgin's Promise, by Kim Hudson
Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Behind the Plot, by Peter Dunne
ME, by Brenda Ueland
If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland
On Writing, by Stephen King
Walking on Water, by Madeliene L'Engle
The Forest for the Trees; An Editor's Advice to Writers, by Betsy Lerner
Take Joy, by Jane Yolen
Bird by Bird; Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
Plot, by Ansen Dibell
Beginnings, Middles & Ends, by Nancy Kress
The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler
Picture Writing, by Anastasia Suen
Writers Dreaming, by Naomi Epel
Hooked, by Les Edgerton
Scene and Structure, by Jack Bickham
I don't pretend to have any writerly advice to give that you can't read a hundred other places. Read, write, write, write, get feedback, revise. Learn all you can wherever and from whoever you can. I would only add; pour it all out there, every little thing you want to, and then prune it, perfect it, ...however long that takes.
For me, it's all about patience and persistance. That's not a fun thing to hear when you are starting out (or when you've just published your first book and are trying to get someone interested in your other manuscripts!) but it's the truth. When I look back and think of some of the things I submitted and how I hoped and prayed that someone would publish them, I just have to say, "Thank God for unanswered prayers!" Time and waiting are really not your enemies; they are your friends. With them, you will only get better, and when that story of yours is finally published it will be so much better than it is now. And if that story means so much to you that you have years' worth of hard work invested in it, then don't you really want to do justice to it and have it be the best it can be?
So we write on and we believe in what we're doing because we have this story we just have to share. Is it worth it? Is the story that important that we should invest so much in it when we could be doing other things with our time? If we are still working away at it years later (I've been working on one for 17 years and I still have not lost any enthusiasm for it), then it must be that important to us. And if we are working so hard on something, then it cannot help but be good when it is finished. I don't think that sort of investment is selfish--quite the opposite, I think it is very unselfish to want to share something that badly. To put yourself out there in front of everybody, naked, and not to be doing it for money (most of us will never earn a living doing this), but because you have this story you just must share, that's work that is love.
I write for the child I used to be, all of them out there who struggle with the same things I struggled with, or love the same things I loved, the child who I know is dying to read the book I'm writing.
And in all honesty, I also write in the hope (however naive) that one day my writing will enable me to contribute financially to my family.