Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My New Favorite Quotes

Thanks to Therese's suggestion, I ordered Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel. It arrived in my mailbox last night and I spent a fair chunk of the evening reading the first few pages.

Maass is quite candid, something I appreciate at this point in my career. His advice isn't for the faint-hearted. Take into consideration this paragraph:

"To write a breakout novel is to run free of the pack. It is to delve deeper, think harder, revise more, and commit to creating characters and plot that surpass one's previous accomplishments. It is to say "no" to merely being good enough to be published.

It is a commitment to quality." - Maass, pg. 12.

After I read that, I felt the fire inside me flame. Yes, I thought. I can do this. I want to do this. I want to stretch myself and write something that is not just "good", but great.

I've written two novels now and several half-finished ones. My ability to discern what works and what doesn't is growing with each novel or story I write. I feel that I am ready to stretch myself, dive into the craft, and be a better writer.

The trick to all of this is to keep that fire burning, to not let the discouragement demons drag me down, to stay focused on my goals.

It's time.

Another quote I just love from this book is from the foreword by Anne Perry, and I think it's quite inspiring:

"There's room for us all. They'll just build bigger bookshops!" (p. 4)

Write on!


  1. I love Donald Maas! I have both his book and the accompanying workbook. If a writer did everything he suggests, it would be quite a daunting task, but it would make a great (or at least better) book. It's definitely something to aspire to.

  2. I love Donald Maas too. His book and the workbook both really helped me. In fact I should dig them back out and get inspired all over again.

  3. Great post, Melissa! Very inspiring. Thanks for reminding me of the Maass book. I need to revisit that one.

  4. Great quotes!!!! Something to keep in mind as I work on my latest ms.

    Glad to hear you're feeling better. Strep is no fun at all. I remember having it as a kid and thinking my throat would never feel normal again.

  5. You can do it! I'm going to go look up that book now.

    *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/*

  6. His book was good, but I thought the workbook was FANTASTIC. Some great, practical exercises to up your novel to the next level. I bet you'd really like that too.

  7. If you find Maass book useful, as I did, I would highly recommend the workshops of the same name. Info can be found at

    I've done the weekend and the week-long workshops. The latter is pricey, but it includes accommodation and meals, and is like summer camp for writers.

  8. Devon Ellington8:14 AM

    Yes, commitment is what separates the professionals from the pretenders.

  9. Great quotes! We did a Donald Maass workshop at one of our retreats and I really enjoyed it.

  10. I need to read this book again. I'm after the workbook too.

    Gosh--I wish there were two of me to do all the things I want to do :)

  11. I can feel your energy just reading your words! (Good writing in itself!)

    The first time I got that rush was in my second grad-school writing workshop when my prof encouraged me to take my game to the next level, so to speak. I took on the challenge, and she was so impressed with the results that she read my work aloud to the class the next time we met!

    And you picked the right quote: there is room for all good writers! Your spot on the shelves is waiting. :)

  12. Hi there Melissa!
    I attended Donald's two-day Writing the Breakout Novel workshop in Boston a few years ago. I have his book on my desk as well. Isn't it wonderful? The workshop boiled it all down and 'lit the flame' for me as well. Now I just need to find more TIME to stretch out the writing, slow down the editing, etc.
    Great post!


I love to hear from you!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance!