Sue Grafton on the same lesson she learns every book (plus, a Thanksgiving prompt)

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When you write, it’s easy to lose the plot—forget what drew you in about writing in the first place, what kept you around, why you do this strange thing you do. Even for Sue Grafton. And I find that strangely liberating.

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Here’s the latest from Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series (the quote-worthy quips that branded themselves in my mind when we were creating these magazines throughout the year). A regular prompt follows. Have a great holiday week.

No. 13: Shadowplay

WD: What have you learned in writing the [Alphabet] series?
“I’m learning the same lesson every single time. I’m learning to trust the process. I’m trying to remember that writing should be a form of play. I keep saying the fate of the free world does not hang in the balance. Even if I write a book that fails, nothing will happen. I’ll be mortified and embarrassed, but lives will not be lost over this. I take writing terribly seriously, and sometimes that just gets in my way. Writing is about the Shadow, which is about play. I just have to learn that again."
—Sue Grafton, The WD Interview, by Diana Page Jordan, February 2010 (click here to check the rest of the issue out)

And, one more interesting tidbit from the interview:

“I don’t think of myself as an author. I think of myself as a writer, because writing is what I do. I’m always taken aback when others refer to me as 'famous' or a 'celebrity.' What a weird idea. The concept has no real application. It doesn’t serve a writer to start thinking of herself in those terms because it interferes with the work. Writing is an internal process. Success is external and not something we can control in any event. I foster that disconnect because it keeps me grounded."

(Image: Via)

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WRITING PROMPT: The Bird Isn't the Word
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

You’re at Thanksgiving dinner, and discover that there’s no turkey this year. Instead, there’s something else on the table.

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Also, if you’re not planning to spend the wee hours of Nov. 26 standing outside a Wal-Mart at 4 a.m. and are on the hunt for writerly gifts, I’m told we’re going to have some deals on the WD sites. On Thanksgiving day, there’s free shipping at, and on Black Friday (through Sunday) most things in the shop will have a 20 percent off discount (use coupon code WDS192).