Google+ Reading Teen: The Most Valuable Thing to do When You Start Writing

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Most Valuable Thing to do When You Start Writing

by Christine Lynn Herman

When I first started writing, it was something I did entirely on my own. I was a teenager who spent countless hours immersed in the fictional worlds I’d created, falling for characters that only existed in my head. It was incredibly fun.

It was also incredibly lonely.

When I tried to talk to my friends about my writing, they were happy I liked doing it, but they didn’t really understand it. I could talk for hours about my ideas, my characters, the plot points I was wrangling with or that fun banter scene I’d just written. But it felt like I had no one who would listen--like there would always be a part of me that nobody else understood.

I wrote many terrible first drafts of YA books. I spent countless hours working on my craft and doing industry research, reading every author or agent’s blog I could find. And one day, in 2015, I realized it wasn’t enough. I needed to show my work to other people if I ever wanted to be ready to send it to agents.

So I mustered up all my bravery and posted about my book in a critique partner forum hosted by one of my favorite authors. Eventually, I got an email from a girl who I wound up having a ton in common with. She became my first writer friend and critique partner, and she introduced me to her friends, too. None of us were traditionally published or agented--but we all wanted to be.

This incredible group of women taught me more in six months than I’d learned in the five years I’d been seriously writing on my own. Their feedback, guidance, industry knowledge, and friendship were the foundation that put me on the path to publication. Before I had an editor or an agent, they taught me how to handle critique and meet deadlines. They helped me learn how to truly revise for the first time. And through Skype calls and long, intense group chats, I learned that while writing may be something we do alone, writers truly need each other--to talk through brainstorming and revisions, to commiserate, to cheer.

It’s been almost four years since I met my first critique partners, and many of us are agented, published, or debuting now. Some of us work in the publishing industry. All of us have grown immensely in the time we’ve been friends, and I feel so lucky to have them in my life. Their feedback and guidance helped me turn THE DEVOURING GRAY, my debut novel, from a scrappy first draft into a book I’m truly proud to put out into the world.

I may have started the journey towards publication alone, but I wouldn’t be a debut author without the many people who have helped me on this road. The support and love that I have found with other writers has made me so confident in a part of myself that I thought no one else would ever understand. They are brilliant plot problem-solvers and late night phone call champions; their talent and generosity is unmatched.

They have shown me that I have stories inside of me worth telling. And so when people ask me what the most valuable thing you can do is when you start writing, I only have one answer: find your community. Because my writer friends have changed my life.

Christine Lynn Herman is the author of THE DEVOURING GRAY, on sale 4/19 from Disney Hyperion.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (April 2, 2019)
Language: English
After the death of her sister, Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she learns her mother isn’t: they belong to one of the revered founding families of the town. Yet the secret to controlling her family’s magic is lost, and without it, she will not survive the Gray.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny—to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

“Fans of The Raven Boys and Stranger Things rejoice: This is your new obsession.”
Claire Legrand, New York Times best-selling author of Furyborn

“Full of witchy atmosphere; lush, detailed writing; and a trope-breaking, endearing group cast,
this book will ensnare you and leave you deliciously haunted. A stunning debut.”
—Amanda Foody, author of Ace of Shades and Daughter of the Burning City

“The only thing better than a chosen one is four chosen ones, and the only thing better than
four chosen ones is four chosen ones who don't like each other very much.”
—E. K. Johnston, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka

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