One of my favorite things about Brave on the Page: Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life has been introducing writers to each other.
Around when we launched the book in October, I connected Gigi Little and Sarah Cypher, two powerful authors who have shaped my own writing in countless ways. Sarah was interviewed in the book, and Gigi contributed a flash essay. Over the course of several months, Gigi and Sarah immersed themselves in an ongoing conversation about the craft of writing. This week, they each posted their sides of that fruitful discussion.
These companion pieces are fascinating, in part, because both writers approach their writing so differently. That’s the primary theme of Gigi’s side of the conversation, “Being Brave on the Page with Sarah Cypher.”
Gigi wings it with “with the best of my writing often coming from something quirky that pops off the top of my head.” Sarah plans carefully. “I do a lot of planning at the outset, but it is helpful only so far – usually as a trail of breadcrumbs to follow if I lose my way. It’s also a way of helping knit research together.”
Sarah’s response to the conversation covers similar territory, focusing on the intersection of planning and being brave enough to trust one’s instinct. You can read “Brave on the Page: A Conversation About Creative Courage with Gigi Little” at Sarah’s blog.
Please go read those two companion pieces. They’re amazing individually, but together, they speak to a larger truth about being a writer. We all face the same challenges, but in different ways, and talking about our methods often opens up a new way of thinking or gives us a creative jolt.
(Are you back here now? Good.)
Sarah Cypher has taught me how to approach novel writing from a more structured, intellectual point of view, versus my earlier attempts of bleeding prose all over the page. She has been a crucial early reader of my last two novels and her wise editor’s voice is one I come back to regularly, reading and rereading her comments, during major revisions. Sarah has also set an incredibly high bar in terms of doing research for a novel, and her courage in doing that kind of work in order to set a fictional story down helped me find the courage to write historical fiction.
Sarah is a full-time freelance editor, with her own business and a careful, thoughtful way of shaping others’ stories. Her business is The Threepenny Editor, so check that out for an idea of what she does and a look through her archive of original articles on writing and structure.
Gigi Little has inspired me with her ability to work on novels, stories, a memoir, essays, children’s books and even career oriented e-books while maintaining her own strong, particular voice that’s very funny, while also being honest and unafraid. She’s in high demand as a reader at events around the Portland metro area. She’s also the designer of the Brave on the Page cover, the Forest Avenue Press logo and our new Seven Questions author interview series logo.
As a side note, as a Powell’s staff member, Gigi chose Brave on the Page as one of her year-end Top Five staff picks. Check the Powell’s website to read Gigi’s lovely recommendation, learn more about our Jan. 7 reading or buy the book online. Gigi, incidentally, will be reading her essay “Mentor” from Brave on the Page on Jan. 7.
Thank you so much to Sarah and Gigi for putting together this conversation. I rarely print out blog posts, but I’m going to take these two essays, hit print, study them and then keep them side by side for when I need to be inspired by a dose of creative courage. No matter how we approach our stories, it takes a lot of courage to approach the blank page and let ideas and raw emotions flow through our waiting fingers, unsure of what the result will be, and yet we try and try again, day after day, week after week, and when one thing doesn’t work, maybe the next one will.