Therese here. Today’s guest is author Julianna Baggott. Julianna is the author of seventeen books, most recently The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted under her pen name Bridget Asher, which releases this Tuesday. Says Booklist:
Heidi is still reeling from the death of her husband, Henry, two years earlier. Heidi can’t bring herself to return to the bakery she and Henry ran, and her son, Abbott, is consumed with grief, which is manifesting itself through his obsessive-compulsive behavior. Heidi’s mother believes she knows the perfect cure and sends them…to their family home in Provence, where Heidi hasn’t been since she was 13. The house has been in Heidi’s family for generations and has long been viewed as a living, breathing force that brings miracles…A tearjerker of a novel for both foodies and fans of tightly knit family stories.
And this from our own Barbara O’Neal:
“An enchantment of a book, woven out of Bridget Asher’s tenderness toward her characters, her love of the French countryside, and a gentle faith in possibilities. It held me spellbound from the first word to the last, when I put it aside with a sigh of both regret and deepest satisfaction….I madly, madly, madly loved this book!”
—BARBARA O’NEAL, author of How to Bake a Perfect Life
Sounds great, no? Julianna is also the bestselling author of Girl Talk and, as N.E. Bode, The Anybodies Trilogy for younger readers. Her essays have appeared widely in such publications as The New York Times Modern Love column, Washington Post, NPR.org, and Real Simple.
I’m thrilled she’s with us today to talk about the contradictory world of the writer. Enjoy!
It’s not really fair. The traits a writer needs for survival are at odds.
To show the real world – in its honest beautiful grotesquerie — you’ve got to be vulnerable, sensitive. To take the criticism and rejection that you need to endure to get better, you have to be tough, hardened.
It helps if you wallow and brood – the more you can wring out of an experience the better – but professionally, it’s better to be resilient, to bounce.
It’s helpful to be good with words. It’s also helpful not to think of words as something to be good with.It’s great to be smart, but better if you think you know nothing.
It helps if you’re fascinated by your fellow human beings and equally helpful if you crave solitude.
It’s wonderful if you come from a loving stable home that built your foundation from the ground up. It’s also helpful if you’ve had to build your own foundation.
It’s helpful if you’re not crazy. And it’s helpful if you see the world off-kilter, as a crazy person would.
Desire criticism. Avoid it.
Seek out fellow writers to learn the art of story swapping. Fellow writers tell great stories that you can’t write because they belong to the writer who told them. Seek out real people.
Let jealousy fuel you. Don’t be consumed by jealousy.
Love words. Edit them with gardening shears.
Pour yourself into your characters. Don’t disappear into them forever.
Get your butt in the chair and stay there until you write something. Never force it.
Map your plots. Be organic.
Hoard. Give freely.
This is all true. None of it is true.
The question isn’t: How to survive?
The question is: Why survive?
Because I need the honest beautiful grotesquerie of the world, because I want to stay sensitive. I want to wallow and bounce.
I want to feel like I’m good with words, only to have them humble me.
I love humans and can’t stand to be with them for too long.
I’m trying to build a home for myself.
Because writing is part of the crazy disease and the cure.
Because I still want the flinch that comes with the criticism.
I love writers. I want them to shut up. I’m jealous of writers.
I have already sharpened my gardening shears. May as well use them.
I’ve already poured myself in. Too late.
I’m here writing, now.
I didn’t know what I was going to write – but I found the map in my head.
I’m still holding back.
But, here, take this.
Thanks so much for this post, Julianna. (It’s just become one of my favorites!) Readers, you can learn more about Julianna and her novel The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted on her blog and website. And you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Write on.