Karen Brichoux

Current and Upcoming Books

Available Now
"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


Long in the Tooth

August 19, 2007

Late Summer Newsletter from the desk of Karen Brichoux


*Article: Long in the Tooth
*What Iím Reading

*If you would like to be added to my snail-mail mailing list to receive a postcard informing you of upcoming releases (this amounts to one postcard a year and is the only thing I will send you), send your address to email@karenbrichoux.com Please put ďmailing listĒ in the subject line. I try to always respond when I receive an e-mail (even if it takes a few days), so if you donít get a reply, I probably didnít get your e-mail.

*I will be participating in the River City Reading Festival on October 14, 2007 in Lawrence, KS. Itís a little early to mention this, but lately months are more like weeks. Hereís a link if anyone would like more information about the festival: http://www.rivercityreadingfestival.org/

*Article: Long in the Tooth

I tried to come up with a clever topic for this article, but clever failed me, so Iím falling back on that tried and true mistress of the un-clever: honesty. Itís been a bit of a rough year for me. I didnít realize when I started writing my latest book how different writing something different would be. There are elements which are the same--itís impossible to divorce my vision, voice, life experiences from my writing--but so much about writing this book has been different. So much about my career has been different.

First, while writing this new book, Iíve discovered that when Iím moving in the wrong direction, the writing becomes more flippant, dialogue-heavy, and, well, trivial. After a few pages of that drivel, Iím ready to quit writing forever. Over the past year, Iíve learned that this feeling of hopelessness means I should stop writing for a few days and leave things alone. When I do sit down again, the answer is almost always clear to me. And the answer usually involves whacking away at the drivel, throwing most of it away, and starting over. Iíve always been a writer who pushes on through and leaves bad sections for the rewrite, but with this book, Iíve been forced to make the changes as I go.

Lest this sound like Iím becoming a perfectionist . . . Ha! Iím predicting one of the longest rewrites ever for this book. All these starts, stops, and weed cuttings are a result of false voice and bad directions, not flow or word smithing. Every time I cut them out, I canít believe I wrote them in the first place.

Second, Iíve learned to view my career with optimism. A person can sound optimistic and say optimistic things, but itís important to learn how to see each step, each event, each upswing and downswing, as a learning experience or a challenge. Until writing, I had always been the kind of person who, when the going got tough, I found somewhere new to go. Iíve drifted around from job to job, from career to career--lots of things were interesting to me, and I wasnít married to any of them, so why stay? Until writing. A friend recently said to me that finding out what you want is easy. All you have to do is answer this question: Are the obstacles between you and what you want more or less important to you than what you want? When it comes to writing, my answer is, ďYeah, writing is more important than the obstacles in my path.Ē Which is actually a comforting and optimistic way of looking at things. I no longer have to ask myself if all the effort is worth it, if it matters that the book Iím writing might never get published, if I should quit and drift on to the next interest. Yes, no, and no. It doesnít matter if I donít find an agent or a publisher this year or next year or the next ad infinitum, Iíll keep on trying.

Itís a comforting place to be.

Third, having gone through the process of losing publisher and leaving agent, Iíve found Iím not scared about what I have to lose anymore. Janice was right when she said, ďFreedomís just another word for nothing left to lose.Ē What Iíve learned here is that thereís no point in getting timid and letting yourself be bullied into doing things like accepting bad covers, putting up with a degree of misrepresenting the facts (okay, letís just call it lying), calls that go unreturned, assurances that fall flat, blame placed, threats made . . . These things are all part of the business. Any business. But the truth is, no one should put up with these things out of fear of losing something, whether it be a contract, a publisher, an agent, or an agency. So many times, the fear of losing something will simply increase the chances of it being lost.

Have I heard all these things before? Yes. Said them all before? Yes, but often in a flippant way. Perhaps Iím getting older and wiser at last.

Happy writing,

*What Iím Reading:

And, of course, the whole Harry Potter series from beginning to end