Wednesday, September 29, 2010

rubbing elbows

So I was incredibly honored to be one the authors at the Boston Public Library's Literary Lights Event this past Sunday:
One of the best things at this event was something that Jerry Spinelli noted in his speech, it was an event where there were more children than adults:
Which made it wonderful. Also what made it quite wonderful was that I got to rub elbows with literary greats such as Karen Hesse, Neil Gaiman (!!) and the aforementioned Jerry Spinelli.

See how happy I am?
They were extremely nice to me, especially considering how awkward I felt during certain star-struck moments. Thank goodness for the the children and everyone involved who helped smooth things out for me for the rest of the event, making me feel like I wasn't quite akimbo next to the other authors. I think this is the first time where I can honestly say my hand did get tired from signing. Never has a muscle cramp caused such happiness! Ha ha!

And with that, I will leave you with the little speech I said upon receiving my lovely award:

When I asked what they’d like me to talk about in my five minutes, they said any tips or advice that would be helpful to a young writer.

Well, I like to think I am still a young writer but I guess according to the actual calendar I am not. I remember one of the first stories I wrote. It came to me like magic, as if the gorgeous rainbow the sky ended at my brain. The words poured out of me like a fountain and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. When I was done, I knew it was great. It was best story ever.


And because it was the best story, I decided it should be published. I sent it to a publishing company and waited for them to make it into a book.


Instead, I got a rejection letter. “We’re sorry, we cannot offer publication of your story,” they said. “Well, what did they know?” I thought and I sent it to another publisher and got another rejection. And then another publisher and another rejection, again and again.


Finally, I put the story in a drawer and, this is very, very important, I wrote another story. And I wrote another story after that and another after until over ten years later, I am now here at the Boston Public Library with my stories being honored alongside Jerry Spinelli, Karen Hesse and Neil Gaiman.


So, recently, I opened that drawer with my first story in it. And I read it. And you know what?

It was absolutely awful.

No wonder it wasn’t published. Reading it was like 1,000 raining clouds inside your bedroom while you are trying to sleep. I was so, so embarrassed that I had thought it was the best story ever.


So when I was trying to think of advice for young writers, I came up with this:


Be humble. Know that what you have written is not the best.

But, also, be confident. What you will write will be better.

10 comments:

Linda said...

What great advice for young writers.......keep it up!!

Ellen Booraem said...

Grace, I'm meeting with a 12-year-old at the school this noon. I'm thinking I'll print this out and give it to him. Thanks for it!

Jeannine Atkins said...

Lovely talk and, yes, lovely dress, too.

Nancy Baker said...

Terrific advice for writers of all ages, shapes and sizes. Thanks for sharing it, and congratulations on yet another honor! Yay, Grace!

anne said...

you did a brave thing, in still writing after being rejected. great story, full of good lessons!

Felix said...

Dear Grace; That is great story... it's like when I look at all my old journals from high school or college....or eeps, middle school!!

We're up to Chapter 14 in WMM -reading aloud to my students. We've been reading every day for about 2 weeks, about 2 chapters a day, but each time, they say "Can you read the chapter from yesterday again?" Or "Can you tell the part about the Old Man of the Moon again? It's so good!" I try not to go back to much since we'll never finish the book at this rate, but how can I resist pleading children?

Yeah, so it is THAT good. Thank you for writing!!!

Felix said...

Oh yeah, and congratulations on this latest honor!

Nandini said...

Grace,
I'm sorry about your hand cramp. It was really nice of you to take so much trouble with each signing. My daughter is thrilled with her three signed books, complete with sketches and Chinese characters!
Nandini

Grace Lin said...

Thanks so much, everyone for your nice words! I was so giggly when I met the other authors...and they accidentally gave me Neil Gaiman's award by mistake. I kind of wanted to keep it!

Grace Lin said...

Felix--thank you SO, SO much for the mooncakes and I am really glad your students are liking WTMMTM so far!