Guest Post: Sarah Dessen on the Highs and Lows of Writing

What_happened_to_goodbyeIf you look up “Sarah Dessen” on either or it’s clear that she is beloved among young adult fiction readers. Excitement over her tenth novel is practically palpable and more than one fan has professed his/her love for her tenderly-crafted stories brimming with true-to-life characters. It’s no wonder then why we chose What Happened to Goodbye as our Best of the Month in young adult pick for May. McClean’s journey towards self-discovery will ring true to nearly anyone 12-years-old and up, showing us that coming-of-age and finding out who one is doesn’t stop at the age of eighteen. Naturally, I would assume that a woman who is able to traverse this emotional landscape so well would, after living through the release of nine novels, be some sort of an indestructible force with the nerves of steel. But, in this exclusive Amazon blog post, Dessen shares what it’s like to wait for the day of publication, when all the world is suddenly--and very publicly--allowed to talk about a project she’s been working on for years. Does she celebrate with a big bowl of ice cream or a reality TV marathon? No, as Dessen explains, she tends to spend her time working on projects like cleaning her closet. For more from Dessen herself, read below:

My tenth book, What Happened to Goodbye, is about to be published, and here’s something you might not guess: just TYPING that fact gives me an anxiety spike. Crazy, I know. You would think, by the tenth time you do something, it becomes at least comfortable, if not outright habit. If I’d been married nine times, by the tenth I’d probably not even sweat the dress. Ditto for having my tenth kid: forget being anxious about germs on little hands, I’d most likely let the kid lick the floor outright. But there is something about creating, honing and then releasing a novel into the world to which I, at least, have never been able to adjust. Each time is like the first time. But better and worse, all at once. Why is that?

When my first novel came out, I was twenty-six and a professional waitress. I lost money skipping my most lucrative shift, Friday night, to do a signing at a local bookstore. My press packet--which my parents paid for--consisted of a color copy of the cover, my author picture, and the one review I’d gotten, which I stapled together while standing at the counter at Kinko’s. Book tour was every local store that would have me, sales were miniscule, and I was back slinging salsa a couple of days later. Nothing much was different except now I was a waitress with a published book, which still didn’t make me as cool as everyone else I worked with, most of whom were in bands.

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Comments (4)

Thank your for sharing your wonderful article. I very agree with your views from here.

Posted by: Asics Shoes | Wednesday August 3, 2011 at 6:45 PM

In most cases, I agree with the published cover. A Gate at the Stairs, though. Eh, the crayons aren't great, but they're better than the real cover.

Posted by: Jordan Space Jams | Wednesday June 8, 2011 at 2:46 AM

It's refreshing to read that even hugely successful authors still get nervous. I can't wait to get the book on Tuesday. I'm so excited! I doubt it'll disappoint because I love all of your books. I can't wait to add What Happened to Goodbye to my collection.

P.S. That first book you wrote, That Summer, is my favorite! Totally life-changing.

Posted by: Maggie | Sunday May 8, 2011 at 2:08 PM

This post is simultaneously a huge relief (YES, even SARAH DESSEN feels this way sometimes!) and hugely panic-inducing (you mean these feelings never go away? Never ever?). Thanks for the honesty and the glimpse into the writing rollercoaster ten books down the line. I'm sure Sarah's new book is wonderful!

Posted by: Marissa Meyer | Friday May 6, 2011 at 2:19 PM

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