Learn about Sara Zarr.
What do you love most about your creative life? Why?
I love the solitude. I like the expanse of quiet, empty space in the day.
As a classic introvert, I’m refreshed by my time alone. It enables me to be contemplative about myself, my stories, human nature, God, the universe, and all that good stuff that hopefully makes for deeper writing.
Then, the wells are filled and I can be “on” when I need to be on, like on a visit or at a conference or touring.
All of this great alone time has spoiled me for any other employment, so I really need to keep the writing career going!
How have you come to thrive in such a competitive, unpredictable industry?
I think the key to this, for me, has been cultivating a certain amount of not caring. I don’t get my Google alerts, I don’t actively seek to know what people are saying about me or my books.
When I do read reviews, I read them once or twice, looking for a good quote for my web site, and then let go.
I try not to get entangled in publishing gossip, or read all the blogs and articles about new deals or predictions of industry collapse and the like. I try hard to keep a balance between staying informed at a basic level while focusing my energy on what I can control. Which isn’t much.
I can control the time and energy I invest in my writing, and the outreach/inreach I do with my blog and web site, and that’s about it.
To an extent, I can control meeting my deadlines, but sometimes even that becomes something out of your hands if the publisher’s needs and time lines change because of stuff that has nothing to do with you.
My goal is to invest the minimal amount of time and energy in industry stuff—just what’s necessary to stay smart—and to not care too much about the fact that there will always be people who don’t like my books. There are enough people who do. The rest are not my audience for whatever given book.
Every story speaks in a certain language, and there will be some who speak that language and some who don’t. And that’s okay.
Also, I have a pretty balanced life, in general. I have plenty of friends who have nothing to do with the publishing industry or the writing life. As much as writers desperately need our writer friends, we just as desperately need our non-writer friends.
There’s a whole life and world outside of publishing, and if you get too caught up in mirror-gazing, you can forget that. Then, when hard times in your writing/industry life come, it’s hard to have perspective.
A book is a wonderful, miraculous thing. But in some sense, it’s also just a book.
The Craft, Career & Cheer series features conversations with children’s-YA book creators about positive aspects of their creative and professional lives.