The Latest News from Blydyn Square Books
It’s February—full-on winter. It’s that time of year when (at least here in New Jersey where I live and where Blydyn Square Books is headquartered) it starts to feel like the sky is ALWAYS going to be gray and the weather forecast bleak. But don’t forget to look for the silver lining in those snow clouds: A blustery, wintry day is the perfect time to curl up with a good book.
And whether you just love to read or you also like to write, you’ll enjoy this guest post from our author Andrea Kott, whose memoir, Salt on a Robin’s Tail, was a featured title on Amazon this past summer. Here, Andrea talks about why she writes.
Why Do I Write? Silencing the Mean Inner Voice That Wants Me to Hang Up My Pen
by Andrea Kott
Writing has been the only thing I have ever wanted to do, and I’ve been at it professionally for more than 40 years. I write to make sense of life, to understand myself, and hopefully, to help others by sharing my experiences and insights. When writing works, it is the most satisfying work I know. Yet, the surest way to kill that satisfaction is to think more about publishing than the process of writing itself. The trick is to balance both.
The first time I felt driven to write was at age eight. I typed a three-page, three-chapter “book” about a bullied, overweight girl in my third-grade class. In my young mind, writing about her suffering would change the world. I proudly gave my book to a family friend who worked in publishing, certain of its acceptance. Unfortunately, he chuckled and returned it, unread. Embarrassed, I threw it away.
But I didn’t stop writing. Indeed, my need to make sense of life and myself by taking pen to paper only got stronger. I couldn’t not write. I had too much to say. And then, in 1978, as a UC–Berkeley sophomore, I published my first piece in the campus weekly, The Daily Californian. I got my first byline and my first writer’s payment, $15.
I wanted more.
Seeing my work and name in print was instantly gratifying. It made me feel like somebody. That’s when the trouble began: Writing for myself felt good, but writing for recognition felt better. I wasn’t interested in keeping a journal. I wanted to touch others, something I couldn’t do without being published. And, let’s be honest, I wanted the ego stroke. It took much rejection and devastation to realize how the desire to be published can paralyze my ability to write at all, and overshadow the value and joy it provides.
All writers write to be read. I’m lucky. I don’t write creatively to pay my bills. I do other writing for that. Still, the fear of rejection can turn my words to sludge. Before I know it, what seemed like a good idea feels laughable and I can’t produce any words at all. I have to work hard to prevent the fear of rejection from talking me out of doing what I love.
This is easier said than done especially since I have a harsh internal editor who grabs any opportunity to shoot me down by saying, “This idea is stupid. It’s not worth writing about. No one will care.” Yet, worrying about what’s not written yet is toxic to creativity. It makes me want to quit before beginning. If I listened to my diabolical inner editor every time it spoke to me, I’d never get anything done.
I owe this insight to my favorite author, the late Kent Haruf. According to his widow, who the New York Times interviewed for his obituary, Haruf had a technique for silencing his inner editor. He would pull a ski cap over his eyes when he wrote so that he couldn’t judge or thwart himself as he worked. Literally writing in the dark allowed him to get the words on the page so that he, and later his wife, who was his editor, could polish them.
This strategy, minus the hat, was invaluable to me as I wrote my memoir. Every morning at 5, before my internal editor was awake, I sat at my computer and, with my eyes closed, I wrote without peeking at my computer screen. If my editor awakened and tried to discourage me, I’d quietly tell it to go to hell.
It worked. I completed my memoir and continue to turn out creative non-fiction. Not all my work ends up in print. But it gets done. It gives me joy. And for me, that’s what matters.
Thanks, Andrea! Lots of great advice for all those writers out there. And now back to our regularly scheduled newsletter.
Our Latest Book Is Launching!
We’re super excited to announce that our newest title, Secrets Most Writers and Publishers Will Never Tell You, is launching next month! If you’re an aspiring writer or a seasoned veteran hoping to break into print, this book is for you.
From the back cover:
Unlike most books about writing, this one doesn’t sugarcoat anything. In fact, some of what you read may feel like a (gentle) slap in the face. We’ll tell you the harsh truths about what the world of publishing is like today and what to expect as you embark on the journey to becoming a published author.
At the same time, we’ll inspire you and magically transport you to a world where people actually care about books and writing—just like you do. But better than that, we’ll let you in on ten secrets that most writers and publishers don’t want the uninitiated to know.
And don’t forget to join us for the online party to celebrate the book’s publication. We’ll be meeting on Saturday, March 27 at 3:00 p.m. on Zoom. Here’s the link to join us. Hope to see you there!
Blydyn Square Book Club
This month in Book Club, we read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. We had a GREAT discussion! In case you missed it, you can check out the video from our meeting here.
Next time, we’ll be reading Normal People by Sally Rooney, and our meeting will be on March 11, 2021. If you’re not already a member, sign up now at LINK. We always have a great time—even when we hate the book!
Blydyn Square Happy Hour
Don’t forget to join us next week, on February 18, for our monthly Blydyn Square Happy Hour. Join us to chat about our current and future titles, and whatever else comes to mind—as long as it has to do with books! Get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work for (and be published by) a small press. You bring the drinks and we’ll bring the book talk. Here’s the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/96663451128
Quote of the Month
“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”
Brain Teaser of the Month
Congratulations to last month’s trivia winner, Wini Tomczyk (yes, my mom won AGAIN—you could win, too, if you bother to answer the question!), who won an Amazon gift card. The question was: On what mythological story is Addison Jones’s novel Eye of Horace based?
The answer was the ancient Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris (and their son, Horus).
And now here’s this month’s question:
Charles Dickens considered two other names before settling on Tiny Tim for the character of Bob Cratchit’s son in A Christmas Carol. Email us one of Tiny Tim’s original names for a chance to win an Amazon gift card.
That’s it for this month. Stay warm out there and we’ll see you next time!
Editor in Chief
Blydyn Square Books