Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What I Learned from Maggie Stiefvater

Last week I had the great pleasure to hear from a best selling author that many of you may know: Maggie Stiefvater, author of The Scorpio Races, among many other books. My coworker and friend Lyndsi and I joined with a bunch of other starstruck ladies in the cutest little courtyard I'd ever seen. Actually, there was one guy there. That's right, one. He was surrounded by middle aged women, teenage girls, ladies with small children, and even a woman who was crocheting away at something that looked like a dish scrubber. The courtyard was hidden behind the most wonderful adorable little bookshop.

Before letting you in on some of Maggie's great thoughts on writing, here are some fun things I learned about her while I was there: She has fainting goats (if you don't know what these are you absolutely need to look them up), she used to be a portrait artist, and she was a competitive bagpipe player in college. Cool!

The whole program ran so nicely. The author spoke to us for a while, feeding us with fabulous stories, then she read part of her newest book, using audience members as characters in the story to voice some of the characters. It was brilliant! Then she allowed for questions. That's where I heard a lot of things that I love. Here's what I wrote down for you all:
  • Critique partners. Maggie highly suggests having these. It's hard to exchange ideas in baby form (less than 10K words). You can "support your thesis" by 10K. At that point, send it to your critique partner to get their thoughts. Don't use just any old person. Use other writers who like to read. 
  • Don't ever give up on your dreams. When Maggie was young she wanted to be an author more than anything. It was a long and bumpy road. The first story she ever wrote started with the line "It like, hugs the road!" and it was about two Scottish terriers who were test driving a red Porsche! Haha. As you continue to write, you get better. Thirty finished and unfinished books had been written before Maggie ever had her first book published, a number which she says is typical. It is very common to be rejected about 30 times. Something she said that I REALLY loved: When she wrote the book that would be her first published novel it felt palpably different. It was something she knew that only she could write. It was uniquely hers. 
  • On the topic of research: She only researches connections. The ideas she explores, like the water horses in The Scorpio Races, came from mythology and folklore that she had loved and studied as a child. 
  • Characters: Instead of creating characters out of nowhere Maggie bases hers on real people. 
Great stuff! I wish I could have written down everything she said. Hopefully you've gained some new insight, as I did. To finish up, here are some pictures of the amazing bookstore and the event! 

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