We're all connected, right? We're on Facebook, Twitter, blogging and monitoring all our digital connections.
And yet, I've become aware of spinning and spinning online; building ties and promoting, yes, but the virtual, in the end, is fleeting.
In college, I wrote my senior thesis on the works of E.M. Forster. (Look, here's my ancient edition!) Now, I confess, I don't remember the thrust of my argument, but I do know I was drawn to Forster's epigraph: Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. For Margaret in Howard's End, it was her hope to reduce the inevitable inner solitude that isolates humans.
When we make human connections, we nurture compassion. As Gary Schmidt (my new hero!) reminded us at the LA SCBWI conference, “Write the stories that will give kids more to be human beings with.” His five dictums to authors are: "Love the world. Love words. Make wonder. Pay attention. Make the writing serve." Read Schmidt's Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy to know how it's done.
It's what I've tried to do with My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer. As one librarian noted, the story "allows opportunities to understanding love."
The highest calling, I believe, is to write the truth. This is hard. "Make an authentic connection between author and reader," said Arthur Levine. "Truth is timeless."
I'm not the first to observe that social media is just another way people try to escape the isolation that plagues us. But perhaps the answer is to read (and write) more true, wonderful books to connect with our inner humanity.
For everyone who aspires to write a book, it's true -- there is nothing more thrilling than opening that first box of hardcover books and seeing your name on the cover. Yet lately I've been struck by something more. I'm even more amazed by all the helping hands.
Promoting MY MIXED-UP BERRY BLUE SUMMER is like balancing on a log, trying to stay on top -- and every hand extended fills me with gratitude. The hands that are keeping my feet from slipping into oblivion belong to:
Writing is solitary work. It's just me and my computer (although I often talk to myself as a I puzzle out plot). Selling is social -- and I thank everyone for pitching in and helping me get across the stream!
Here's what I've been thinking and writing about. I love getting email, too!