(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)
Today’s inspiration—for every brave person writing a novel this month—comes from Lisa Schroeder:
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”
~ Emily Dickinson
Hope is what keeps me writing.
Hope that I might write a book that touches someone. Maybe a lot of someones. Hope that the beauty of story will be an integral part of my life every single day. Hope that I always have a place to put all of these emotions I often don’t know what to do with.
But the question is, how does a person keep that hope alive when disappointment is around every corner? When the writing doesn’t come easy? When the negative voices won’t shut up?
You have to find joy in the writing. You have to love the challenge of putting words together to make sentences and paragraphs and chapters. You have to love the challenge of creating characters that feel alive and of coming up with a plot that keeps readers turning the pages.
For me, the joy comes in trying to live a full life and putting what I find in that life into my writing.
Sometimes it’s a song. Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” reached into my soul and made me feel the wonder and magic of being in a moment you don’t want to end. I’ve known that feeling. That feeling of wanting time to stop, and yet, it won’t. It can’t. It’s a feeling many can relate to, and it’s at the core of my book The Day Before.
Sometimes it’s a book. I can still remember the way I felt when I turned the last page of Looking for Alaska by John Green. God, I loved those characters. And my heart broke for those characters, for who and what they’d lost. I tried to do a little of the same when I wrote my first YA novel, I Heart You, You Haunt Me.
Sometimes it’s a tree ablaze with orange leaves against a baby blue sky. Or a horse grazing in a field amidst wild purple irises. Or a baby who smiles with not just her mouth, but her cheeks, her eyes, her hands—her whole body, in fact, smiles.
Sometimes it’s a boy who has lost his mother to cancer. Or a beloved family farm that must be sold. Or a girl who can still remember, some 35 years later, what it felt like to hear the words, “We’re getting a divorce.”
For me, it is about the emotions this crazy life brings. Putting them on paper, sharing them, so others will read and say: I know that feeling.
Lisa Schroeder is the author of numerous books for kids and teens, including the YA novel The Day Before (Simon Pulse) and the MG novel Sprinkles and Secrets (Aladdin). She lives with her husband, two teenage sons, and the cutest pets you’ve ever seen just outside Portland, Oregon.
Visit Lisa at lisaschroederbooks.com.
Follow @lisa_schroeder on Twitter.