In celebration of the ten year anniversary of www.cynthialeitichsmith.com, I asked some first-time authors the following question:
As a debut author, what are the most important lessons you’ve learned about your craft, the writing life, and/or publishing, and why?
Here’s the latest reply, this one from author Shana Burg:
What have I learned about craft? I’ve learned that art imitates life, but also life imitates art.
The only way I can describe it is like this. Yoga helped me stretch my first book from an idea to a finished manuscript.
In yoga, they say what you learn “on the mat” applies to life. If you learn to focus intensely on the mat, you can take that skill into your everyday life. If you develop persistence on the mat, that transfers too. I refined and strengthened these skills through yoga, plus patience, balance, and the ability to just let go.
Similarly, I can practice the same skills that I do “on the mat” when I am “on the page.”
I can practice being authentic and true to the characters in my world. I can practice approaching revisions with a daredevil attitude. I can practice believing in my story and knowing that what I’m creating has a purpose no matter what anyone else might think. All of these struggles “on the page” seep into the rest of my life and help me be the kind of person I want to be.
Sometimes my life becomes my art and my art becomes my life.
At these times, who I am as a writer with a voice is not too different from who I am as the person who makes breakfast, drives my son to school, calls friends, and folds the laundry. I’ve found when I get to that point—and I get there and lose it and get there and lose it—that things are humming, and both writing and living seem like they’re flowing as they should.
Read a Cynsations interview with Shana.
“Told in the first person through the eyes of a perceptive African-American girl living in the deep south during a period of racial tension and social upheaval, this first novel is a gripping page-turner. Without being didactic, the author teaches what it was like to be poor and live under the injustices of segregation.” Source: Parent’s Choice.
Read chapter one of A Thousand Never Evers (Delacorte, 2008).