Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Crooked Truth



Anika’s Crooked Truth: Writing with Heart

As a child, I always felt a little like an outsider.

I wasn’t a total introvert. I played a sport. I was in the drama club. Mine was a subtler feeling of not fitting in, which had to do with being biracial, having divorced parents and splitting my time between two families.

I've grown up now, and accomplished things. I'm a mom and a published picture book author. And yet I sometimes feel like that girl again. In certain situations, social and professional, she's there, full of awkwardness and self-doubt and feelings of not being “right” for anything.

Recently, at Whispering Pines Writers Retreat, novelist Lynda Mullaly Hunt talked about having the courage to put your heart on the page, and how it was the scariest part of publishing her first book—the idea that pieces of her would be laid bare for the world to read.

During the first pages exercise, when the first page of my middle grade novel was read aloud, one of the mentors said, “Reading this, I feel like I’m in very capable hands.” It was a positive comment; a perfectly respectable and encouraging bit of feedback. Far better than, “Wow, this is really a mess!”

But I realized something. I’d been writing safe. Capable, but safe. Something (fear probably) has held me back from taking a risk, and putting my heart on the page.

When I returned, I began a story about a biracial girl who feels like an outsider. It scares me a little. But it also feels like coming home. I hope I have the heart—and the guts—to finish it.

-Anika

20 comments:

  1. Love what you say here. The picture perfectly captures it too.

    I learned it best from David Corbett's "The Art of Character" -- Our best writing comes from our most vulnerable places. If it makes you uncomfortable to write it, it is bound to connect with others.

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  2. Thank you for the brave and inspiring post, Anika! We all need the reminder to avoid playing it safe--in writing and in life. xo

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  3. Anika! This made me both smile and gave me chills. YES! Please do finish it. This is a book the world craves and I know you will pull it off beautifully. Give me a holler if you need an ear! xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Lynda. It was so powerful when Audrey described that one moment in a conference when you hear what you need to hear. And then you stood up and talked about heart and I thought, "There is is." I will take you up on your offer. :) Any writers reading this comment thread, click the link above and check out Whispering Pines. It's amazing.

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  4. I'm so excited to get to know you better. I'm a fan of your honesty and writing. This year's cast rocks!

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    1. Thanks, Carla! I'm so excited for LYTM 2014!

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    1. Kimberly, thanks for the encouragement. Talk about writing with heart! Your books have inspired me. xo

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  6. everything i was about to write i just noticed what already said by lynda.

    xo

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    1. She's pretty amazing, that Lynda. And so are you. How lucky I am to be among such talented, lovely, generous writers. Truly blessed.

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  7. I loved reading this. And though you know this already: we're ALL that girl. I'm so glad you're finding the courage to write the story you know you need to write. Just keep going. You've got this. xoxox

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    1. Thanks, Audrey, for your inspiring words at Whispering Pines, and for your encouragement. xo

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  8. Anika, I love this, and I have full faith that you will write this story, and I can't wait to read it. xo

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    1. Thanks, Betsy. You are one of my MOST trusted readers, and I appreciate all your support. xo

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  9. Beautiful, Anika. Cheering you on from here. xoxo

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