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Dear Writers,

I’m in deep.

Can’t sleep, can’t eat… as much, can’t focus on anything else. I’m going to bed well after midnight and waking up by 4:30am raring to go, excited to get back to my hard uncomfortable computer seat and write and edit, hone and cut and fix.

My butt is numb half the time but I barely notice. I’m writing and I’m in love… with my characters, with the process, with creating something outside of myself.

I’m so tired, but like my character who has started a passionate affair that is as good for her as it is bad, neither of us can stop. We are addicted.

It has always been this way for me; whether writing bad teenage poetry, heartfelt essays, journals on my children’s journey to life or longer works of fiction, when I’m in, I’m in. I love that moment when you realize something great is happening, your story is evolving and you’re into the action. You may be writing it, but you can’t wait to find out what happens next.

It’s a genuine gift to enjoy the process of writing; the agony, the thrill, the total obsessive consumption that has you by the balls and keeps squeezing no matter how many gives you say.

Yet it’s totally reclusive and really the height of narcissism. Apparently, I prefer to just hang out with the thoughts in my head, the stories and people of my own creation than do anything else. What is more alienating and totally self-absorbed than that?

But there’s always a rub. You’d like to hope that if you spend so much time writing, you would actually do it well. But there’s no guarantee of that at all. To enjoy the process is gift enough but to actually expect to be talented? To have enough writing chops to rise above? Well, that’s just arrogance, stupidity, and a necessary aspiration.

Because tangled in all the insecurity and dedication, the loving and the hating is the hope that one day you just might hit on something good enough to rate. Something that will give others a moment of enjoyment or a secret thrill; will keep them on their toes, at the edge of their seats, reaching for tissues or whatever emotion you’re trying to convey.

Because a writer wants readers, needs them, and we also want our work to be recognized. You can’t sit for that many hours, days, weeks, months by yourself and then not crave worldwide domination, I mean some peer recognition. Not just your mother or your friends nodding and clapping – although where would we be without those claps and nods? – but the writing community; which if you’re relatively unpublished translates to an editor or an agent, and of course worldwide domination.

But no matter about that. It’s the carrot on the stick before us, a hope, a pipe dream, but onward we charge because we need to write. There is no other choice.

We are in deep.

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You have to read to understand

Spoiler alert: This post reveals plot secrets from The Fault in our Stars.

Last night I lost someone dear to me. He was young, not yet 18 but cancer doesn’t always care for age, or for charm or for a life worth living. I spent only a week or so getting to know him, growing to love him. His name was Augustus Waters, a boy fashioned from runaway words and grand gestures, who taught me that there can be an infinity of life in only a few breaths of time, to see the vigorous green of grass, the beauty of a blind man tossing eggs at an ex-girlfriends car, and that the loss of limb doesn’t mean you lose the sparkle in your eyes.

I admit I never actually met Augustus. I only got to know him in my head, a voyeur on a life I wasn’t really a part of, eavesdropping on private conversations and inner thoughts. But I loved him, because really, you don’t have to meet someone for their story to touch or move or change you.

Today, I still think about Augustus because he was so special, but I have new lives to distract me. Lenke and Josef, who met and married before WWII, lost each other and have somehow, through the unexplainable beauty of the universe re-found themselves in the golden years of life.

I am just getting to know them, but soon, they will be rounded out and real enough to hug. I will learn their full story, and I will cherish them as I have Augustus and so many others. Because each book I read is a secret window into another world, with some fascinating people but often with ordinary ones, but always ones who capture my affection and my imagination.

I don’t know where I’d be without the comfort and joy of books. They are a gift in my life that sheltered me when I was young from the shouting in my house and the noises in my head. From the first, my palette was insatiable. Truly, I cannot be without a book. It makes me edgy, not to have a place I can run to and hide or fly or laugh or cry.

I open a book and I open my life. So thank you Madeline L’Engle , Judy Blume, Jonathon Tropper, Herman Hesse, Ayn Rand, Larry McMurtry, Jean M. Auel, V.C. Andrews, Sydney Sheldon, James Michener, Ken Follett, Jane Austen, John Green and so so so many others for creating stories and lives that inspire and engage me; for lifting me up and bringing me down just when I needed them, for making me see the world through someone else’s eyes, challenge my mind and grow my heart.

I know the sun will rise and fall on every life someday. We are just breaths of air, but pages are breaths filled with cinnamon and spice that draw you in and make you want to take their face in your hands and kiss them, whether on each cheek or full on the mouth.

Even when I turn that final page, I carry you all with me.

Augustus has died. Long live Augustus.

fault in stars