It’s always inspiring to hear authors talk about their writing life—its ups and downs, its rewards and joys. That’s why I was excited to hear my dear friend and gifted writer Nancy Burke (nancyburkestories.com) share her story in an event hosted by the Montclair Write Group, a community of writers spanning all genres, ages, and experience. A few highlights:
Be flexible: Nancy’s three books all took different paths to publication. “From the Abuelas’ Window,” her first novel, was self-published. Her second book, “If I Could Paint the Moon Black,” recounting the World War II story of Imbi Peebos, reached readers through a small indie publisher. Her latest novel, “Only the Women are Burning,” found a hybrid publisher, Apprentice House at Loyola University.
Be ready: New ideas come from everywhere. “I have a journal I carry around in my purse,” Nancy noted. One book idea was sparked by the gift of a bicycle to her young daughter, another by a feisty speaker at a conference, and the third when the line, “the women began to spontaneously ignite…” floated into her mind. When wisps of ideas come, catch them.
Be persistent: With a full time job and a family, Nancy had to find ways to keep her writing a priority. One book took her seven years, on and off, to write. “Only the Women Are Burning” went through five drafts.. Keep moving forward, revising and sharpening.
Be coachable: “I learned to write a novel by writing one,” Nancy commented. At one point, “Only the Women” mushroomed into a 1,000 page manuscript which she had to cut and hone. By working with a critique group, taking classes, and experimenting on her own, Nancy’s craft developed and deepened.
Be adventurous: Now that “Only the Women” is in novel form, Nancy’s working on adapting it as a screenplay—a very different form of writing. “What is the audience seeing? What is the audience hearing?” A new set of challenges has emerged. After taking a screenwriting course to reorient herself, Nancy is diving into a new genre.
Be ready for inspiration. Be flexible and adventurous. Be coachable. Inspired advice from a talented author. Bravo, Nancy! Write on!
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