Dear Literary Ladies

What goes through your mind when you feel blocked?

Dear Literary Ladies,
You seem like such a prolific bunch, but like the rest of us who live by our pen, you likely feel blocked from time to time. How does this funky, uncomfortable, and sometimes scary feeling play out in your mind?

The dark times that came to me as a writer, those sterile periods when it seemed that not only the inkwell but the wells within had dried, were suffered alone. There doubtless have been and are creative writers who have not encountered this dark experience. The sense of aridity, the mind a desert, that usually follows the completion of a book. That sudden panic when every theme or plot your brain has cradled no longer so much as stirs. Read More→


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Does one need connections to get published?

Dear Literary Ladies,
I’ve often heard it said that “it’s who you know that matters.” Well, I don’t know anyone in the publishing world. Does that mean my work doesn’t stand a chance of being looked at seriously?

There is no easy road. “Pull” will not help. Knowing an editor, or a publisher, or a successful writer, or having a friend who knows one, will not make up for a poor manuscript. Do not write to editors, or established writers asking them to criticize your work, or for help or advice in getting your book or story published. They are unable to help you, even if they were willing to spend half their working hours trying to assist the beginner. Your work must speak for itself. Read More→


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How does it feel to achieve a breakaway success?

Dear Literary Ladies,
I dream of the day when all my efforts might come to a completely successful culmination. Like many writers, I’ve had some modest coups, but who doesn’t long for that big breakthrough, a work that shines in the national spotlight, or climbs the bestseller lists? How does it feel when you first realize that your work has achieved this kind of dreamed-about success? Read More→


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Should I take time off work to write full time?

Dear Literary Ladies,
Miraculously, I’ve saved a bit of money, and I’m considering taking a few months or a year off of work to write full time. I want to see if I can make a go of it, once and for all. Is this a good idea, or would I be putting too much pressure on myself? 

It might be dangerous for you to have too much time to write. I mean if you took off a year and had nothing else to do but write and weren’t used to doing it all the time then you might get discouraged too easily.

Of course I don’t know. But don’t anyhow say to yourself that you will give yourself so long to find out what you can do—because these things don’t work on time limits. Too much time is as bad as too little.

Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964), from a letter to a friend


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