On Writing Well: An Interview with Melanie Gideon

Melanie Gideon, Author of The Slippery Year

Melanie Gideon’s A Slippery Year is one of my personal favorite memoirs. It also stayed on the New York Times’ top ten best-seller list for many weeks, and received rave reviews from NPR, NY Post, San Francisco Chronicle, New Yorker’s Book Bench, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Magazine, Elle, Kirkus, Booklist, BookPage and others.

I asked Melanie what advice she’d give aspiring writers on HubPages, and here are her answers. Thanks Melanie!

1. Expect rejection. A good rule of thumb is 33% of people will love your work, 33% will hate it (unfortunately these people tend to be the most vocal and always on the internet) and 34% won’t care.

2. Don’t give up. If an idea doesn’t work, toss it and dream up a new one.

3. Get feedback and get it early on. I like to work with an editor as I’m writing.

4. Ask yourself if you’re an outliner or a find-the-story-as-you-go-along kind of writer. I outline quite extensively. Many writers don’t, but outlining works for me, for both my non-fiction and fiction. The point is you either have to do the heavy structural lifting on the front end or the back. I like the security of having a roadmap.

5. When your book is published you must separate from it. It will have its own fate out there in the world, and most of that fate is out of your control: how people respond to it; what kinds of reviews you get, if you are reviewed at all, etc. The best advice I was given was imagine your book is a boat. Carry it to the shoreline, launch it, then wave goodbye. The worst thing you can is jump in the water and dog paddle after it. As tempting as it may be to do just that (because who knows if it will sink or swim, find a stiff wind, or founder in dead calm) you must. Your sanity depends on it.

6. One more. Stop Googling yourself. It can only lead to heartbreak.

 

4 thoughts on “On Writing Well: An Interview with Melanie Gideon

  1. This is a wise piece of advice, “When your book is published you must separate from it.” I suppose it is like letting go of a beloved child, at least the first couple of books. And I love the Stop Googling Yourself statement. Many people do that already to their disappointment. Thanks for an interesting and informative interview.

  2. Oh, that last tip. I do that a lot. Almost everyday. I’m just scared of what other people may be writing about me online. Guess, I’ll have to do it less often these days.

    Thanks for the tips. An I’ll see if I can get a hold of the memoir as well.

    Cheers.

  3. Great interview with some useful tips. I liked the expect rejection statistics as it puts things into perspective. There will always be people who fall into the 3 categories, regardless of how well something is written.
    I also loved the analogy of launching a boat and then letting it ride out to its own fate.

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