Happy Birthday, Jennifer Weiner, born 28 March 1970
Jennifer Weiner: So you want to be a novelist?
‘Well, there’s no one path to take. Novelists come in all shapes and sizes. They’re men and women, wunderkinds and retirees. Some of them are very attractive. The rest of us resent them horribly. And if there was a single magic bullet, or a list of steps to follow that would guarantee publication, believe me, someone would have published it by now. What follows is just my take on the question – a completely idiosyncratic, opinionated, flawed and somewhat sassy take on some of the steps you can take to get published.
If you’re looking for lessons from the life masters – people who’ve made long careers in the world of fiction – then run, do not walk, to your local bookshop and buy Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s utterly indispensable Bird by Bird, and Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings and Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craft.
If you want my advice, read on here’
Top 10 Jennifer Weiner Quotes
- The difference between people who believe they have books inside of them and those who actually write books is sheer cussed persistence – the ability to make yourself work at your craft, every day – the belief, even in the face of obstacles, that you’ve got something worth saying.
- If you write chick lit, and if you’re a New Yorker, and if your book becomes the topic of pop-culture fascination, the paper might make dismissive and ignorant mention of your book. If you write romance, forget about it. You’ll be lucky if they spell your name right on the best-seller list.
- Being a novelist is hard for anyone – male or female. You don’t get to quit your day job.
- Cram your head with characters and stories. Abuse your library privileges. Never stop looking at the world, and never stop reading to find out what sense other people have made of it. If people give you a hard time and tell you to get your nose out of a book, tell them you’re working. Tell them it’s research. Tell them to pipe down and leave you alone.
- I also believe that if you’re really a writer, you’ll write, and that nobody could stop you.
- Tell the story that’s been growing in your heart, the characters you can’t keep out of your head, the tale that speaks to you, that pops into your head during your daily commute, that wakes you up in the morning.
- I don’t write literary fiction – I write books that are entertaining, but are also, I hope, well-constructed and thoughtful and funny and have things to say about men and women and families and children and life in America today.
- I was an English major in college, took a ton of creative writing courses, and was a newspaper reporter for 10 years.
- I think it’s a very old and deep-seated double standard that holds that when a man writes about family and feelings, it’s literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it’s romance, or a beach book – in short, it’s something unworthy of a serious critic’s attention.
- When I was five I learned to read. Books were a miracle to me – white pages, black ink, and new worlds and different friends in each one. To this day, I relish the feeling of cracking a binding for the first time, the anticipation of where I’ll go and whom I’ll meet inside.
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