Controlling What I Can–That Same Old Topic

Last week I went with my girls to the new library in the town right next door. I used to volunteer in the old library, running a weekly writing workshop for teens who wanted to write novels. Some pretty talented kids attended that critique group. Plus, lots of the librarians there were friends of mine. I was so excited to visit!

So there I was, standing in the “W” (yes, I go to the shelves where my books should be in every library I go in) and there was nothing there.
That’s when one of my fave library people came up. John is in my last book MILES FROM ORDINARY. He plays a librarian. And no I didn’t change his name and I never change names unless I get scared.

I told him I was looking for my books and he said, “Oh, we had to get rid of some of them. People weren’t checking them out.”
When I hugged John hello I was 5’10”.
When he walked away, I was 3’8″.

I wrote almost all my books in the city I live in now (years ago) or this library’s city. I started the DD while living in this city. THE CHOSEN ONE. The list goes on and on. I don’t know why I was so crushed. I guess I expected someone to say, when my books landed on the ‘throw away pile, “Not Carol’s! She’s one of our very own authors.”
I left the building feeling pretty sad.
What made it even worse was there was miles of empty bookshelves. Miles.


Last night Kyra said, “You have to read my new beginning, Mom. I think you’re going to really like it.”
This is her second book and I’m excited for her.
Then we started our book talk and after a while Kyra’s Hot Indian Lover (as she calls him and as he better not be) said, “Okay, that’s it. No more talk of books. This is getting too sad and depressing around here.”
We’d spoken about advances people shouldn’t have gotten and should have, about the NBA flub and how so many award-winning novels seem to lack something, how our books might never sell (hers) and don’t sell well (mine). The library incident.

What?! We always talk about writing this way. Complaining, exclaiming, oohing and aahing, laughing, wondering, hoping. We both LOVE to write (mostly) and certainly LOVE to have written.

So, this is what a pubbed writer friend of mine said to me, in part, a few days ago. He was talking about things he can’t stand in the business anymore and the list went like this: “children’s literature, publishers, editors, agents, ALA, IRA, NCTE, reviewers, review journals, SCBWI, young YA book authors, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, DreamWorks–leave anything out?” This friend is a fantastic writer, well-known in the writing community, who also knows, even with the awards, how we writers struggle.

Rick Walton (who’s just had foot surgery–everyone please pray for him so he doesn’t hurt too much and so he gets well fast) has always told me to whine about what I can control. He’s right, of course,
Even when something isn’t fair (we all know what Shirley Jackson said about something being fair), I need to put my whining into proper perspective.
And believe it or not, I’m trying and trying NOT to let things bother me (though the library deal really did).

Long ago, I started separating myself from almost everything that touts awards of this person or starred reviews of that person or how much money he’s making or who’s going where. I write my blog, run the conference, teach my amazing students, and write my books.

And I do NaNoWriMo.

I took Friday and Sunday off and I got my allotted words for the first four writing days: just over 9,000. And I was even rewriting as I went.

This I can control. The number of words I write.
Who I talk to and about.
The books I read and love or hate.
Even the libraries I visit.

And who I love.
That matters most.
Who I love.


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16 responses to “Controlling What I Can–That Same Old Topic

  1. Oh, Carol. I wish I could give you a big squeeze. *sigh* It’s hard not to whine. And every now and then, I think we need to allow ourselves a big ‘ole whinefest. Cry and complain and eat lots of sugar (mmmmm, popcorn and peanut m&ms anyone? my fav.)

    But then, you’re right, we should worry about what we can control. Get better. Improve ourselves. Be happy in the now (and all that other crud…. 🙂

    Good luck with Nano.

  2. Dear Carol,
    I live in Northern California. Far away from your hometown or where you wrote your books. I just checked my library. We have six of your books, including an audio version of THE CHOSEN ONE. Two of them are checked out at this very moment.

    So. There you go.

    Also, I love Rick’s advice about whining about what you can control. I, too, will not bemoan the uncontrollable and keep writing words. Cause, like you, it’s what I can control right now.

    NaNo word count: 12,232

    Lots of Love,

    • CLW

      Yahoo on your NaNo wordcount! I’ll get another 2200 words today (I hope).
      And 6 out of 20 something books ain’t bad! Yahoo! So nice of you, Emily.
      Here’s a kiss for your cheek.


  3. Since I live just south of the town with a new library, and just west of the town you are in now, I’m really disappointed. They should be ashamed of themselves. I may have to make my displeasure known.

    So does the town I live in with the little library in the park still have your books on the shelf? Must go and see.

    • CLW

      I wasn’t the only author they got rid of books who came in that day, Kelley. John told the same thing to ANOTHER person.
      I’m just too sensitive.

  4. Angie Shinkle

    I think it should be a rule that there be a section of “local authors” in every library. With all their works available. How amazing would that be to stand there and feel proud of your town? To prove to your kids that they can do anything, because of the talent that comes from their community. Do you want me to run into that library and demand it? I would.

    Plus, I’m falling behind in NaNoWriMo. Trying not to get discouraged and this put that in perspective.

    • CLW

      I agree. That should happen in ALL states.
      Read Ann Dee’s post, Angie. You can do this!
      She’s giving terrific advice.

      Just remember our dinner in December!

  5. Carol, remember our middle school librarian oohs and ahhs about you and how she had to buy more copies of the Chosen One because she can’t keep them on the shelf. One of these days I really believe you’re going to get the recognition you deserve!

    I’m falling behind on NaNoWriMo, too, although I have good reasons. It’s a goal, right? Not a stick for beating ourselves.

    • CLW

      I agree, Becca. When i make my lists that a hundred things long per day, I’m glad when I cross of five things.

      And you’re nice. Thanks. 🙂

  6. That’s heart breaking. I love your books.

  7. so, Carol, I’m such a terrible blogger that I had to give myself some special thing to write about at least once a week and I thought, “What could be better than writing about Carol?” so, I’m gonna write about you every week. on Tuesdays.
    Not ALL about you…there’s gonna be a little bit about all the stuff I’ve learned from taking your class (twice), so it can seem like I’m not a complete crazy stalker or something… 🙂

    Also, I am not doing NaNo…but maybe NEXT November when I’m not stressing out over school I will do it.

    Also also, my personal library has a very LARGE collection of books in the “W” section…all of which are taken up by this obnoxiously gifted writer (Williams, Carol Lynch) who is so good I wish I were her because then I would have written all these awesome books.


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