Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting back to the blog, and asking questions

Next summer, I'm putting up a "Gone Fishing" sign on my blog, I think: I'll have lots less guilt about meaning to post, but not quite actually getting it done. And I almost just typed that I wasn't really fishing all summer, I was mostly busy editing up a storm (and can't wait till I can show you all the good books I've been working on)--but then I remembered that I actually DID go fishing this summer! See?

(For realz. I caught that guy, and some of his other friends, too!)

I promise I'll tell you my summer fishing adventure story in a belated but still-hopefully-lovely "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" post very soon.

For now, though, I decided to cannonball back into blogging with a deep-ish post. This one was inspired by a recent email from my college friend, Jeremy, who is a campus minister in Michigan. He wrote, in part, "I'm looking at the use of questions [in my work]. Good questions stick in our minds and we come back to them regularly. They move us out of our normal ways of thinking and being. Good questions can help us to look at the truth of things and challenge us to go deeper. What was the best question you've been asked recently? Why has it stuck with you?"

And that got me thinking about questions, which are something I'm really fond of. I heartily agree with my friend that good questions help us get to the truth of things and challenge us into deeper ideas, and I think that a good book--like every kind of art--is one way of asking and creating forums for such questions. In fact, that's probably part of why I like books and their creators and bookish people in general so much: they're always stirring up interesting questions and conversations. And I think books for kids and teens ask some of the best, most important questions!

So, friends, two questions that I'll now turn over to you: feel free to answer either of them in the comments section!
    Question One: What was the best question you've been asked recently, & why has it stayed with you?
    Question Two: Writers and artists, what questions do your stories ask?


  1. I recently came upon the question, "What is essential?" I can't remember where or how this question came up. I think it may have been on a blog about getting rid of clutter. But I wrote it down on a piece of scrap paper on my desk: What is essential?

    I've been returning to the question often. I'm thinking about what is essential in terms of stuff (like the junk in boxes in the basement). But I'm also asking what is essential in the YA novel that I'm revising (yet again)? What is essential to that story and those characters and what can go?

    I've also been mulling: What is essential in my life...not the materialistic stuff in this case; instead: How do I spend my time? Am I spending my time on the activities that mean the most to me and take the highest priority? How can I spend more time being really present to those I love?

    I'm still dwelling on this question and the possibilities, but it seems to me that what is essential is related to stripping away the non-essential and actually ending up with more.

    Finally, I agree with you that novels (especially those for kids and teens) raise questions. Love that.

    After previewing my comments, I'm thinking that a good question often leads us to . . . more interesting questions.

    Thank you for the post.


  2. Beth Moore in her study of the Fruit of the Spirit asked in her love segment, "Who hasn't loved you?" She suggested that the opposite of love is rejection. It helped me think through those experiences as to not subconsciously repeat them and heal from some painful times.

  3. Welcome back! Wow, that is some fish! I can hardly wait to see all the books you've been working on.

    The best question I've been asked lately is one that has definitley stuck with me. Now I ask it of everything I write. It is:

    What is the heart of your story?

    It's a question that one has to put a lot of thought into to get right. I was asked it at the query stage and realized it was something I needed to know at the outlining stage.

  4. This is a really fun approach to creativity that I think both artists and writers can enjoy:

    Where's the potential?
    What's more Norris-y?

  5. Question One: What was the best question you've been asked recently, & why has it stayed with you?

    A friend asked, "Are you still mad?" And I said no. But the question is still with me because I am mad even though I don't want to be.

    Question Two: Writers and artists, what questions do your stories ask?

    Is it possible to find a deeper message in romance that's filled with steamy scenes and nothing but happy endings?

    Nice Blog! We're at opposite ends of the publishing spectrum, so you know I won't be hawking you with pitches. :)

  6. Do mean girls grow up or do they just turn into mean old ladies? I had this discussion with my daughter and granddaughter. We all had the same problem the same week.

    Actually that's a great deal like what my character in Coldest Day in Texas asked. The kids in the manuscript I'm working today ask a similar question.

  7. I love this post, Molly! And I love that the focus is on the questions, rather than the answers. I find that the best questions are the ones that can’t be answered, or at least aren’t meant to be answered RIGHT AWAY, or might need to be re-answered over and over again throughout one’s creative process, or one’s life, etc. It is the fact that those questions exist that make life interesting.
    One my favorite quotes of all time (and indeed, my life’s mantra, really) is by the poet Rilke, from his book LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET:

    “Be patient toward all that is unsolved within your heart and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Do not now seek the answers which could not now be given to you, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

    Here's to living the questions.