Posted: February 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

Middle Grade author Ingrid Law visited my library a few weeks ago.

What an awesome lady.

Our lovely Barnes & Noble Rep., Me, Ingrid Law

In her presentation, she spoke to my kids about her “writing toolbox.”  Of course, inside her box of tricks, she keeps conventional tools such as characterization, plot,  setting, etc.

Ingrid reminded us about the most important tool, courage. It took courage for her to write despite nagging self-doubt. It took courage to put her work out there. It took courage to keep writing in the face of many rejections.

Because she maintained a courageous outlook, she was able to write and champion a book which would someday become a Boston Globe-Horn Book and Newbery Honor Award winner.

That book is Savvy.

You should read it. In fact, I want to send you a signed copy. In the comments, tell me why you think courage belongs in the author’s toolbox. The most insightful, moving, funny, fabulous answer wins. I’ll send the autographed copy of Savvy anywhere in the US or Canada. I’ll announce the winner next week on February 23rd.

Hungry for more? If you’re like me, you’ll need a cup of courage. My favorite is this easy Hot Spiced Chai recipe.


  1. Jemi Fraser says:

    I think courage is vital for all artists – writers included. When you produce a piece of art, it’s like putting a bit of your soul on display for others to judge.

    As a naturally shy person (like a lot of writers) it took an enormous amount of courage for me to even start looking at writers’ forums online, never mind commenting!

    Now… of to check out that Chai recipe 🙂

  2. jmartinlibrarian says:

    Jemi, one of your thoughts really struck a chord with me:
    “It’s like putting a bit of your soul on display for others to judge.”

    Too true. It takes courage to proudly put that bit on paper, knowing others will heckle your very soul.

  3. catwoods says:

    I shall come back to this when I can be courageous enough to write a witty, insightful comment!

  4. catwoods says:

    As a prepubbed writer, I can talk big and write even bigger. However, the truth of the matter is that I am a hopeless ninny when it comes to courage.

    Without it:
    * the first draft never gets written, it is only dreamed about.
    * darlings clutter up manuscripts out of fear that we will never be able to write something that eloquent again.
    * characters remain flat because we might just write something a little too revealing about ourselves in the process of fleshing them out.
    * plots drag as we baby our MC’s through their lives, too scared to hurt them.
    * we remain in the writing closet out of fear that someone, somewhere will reject our writing, and therefore, reject us.
    * envelops are addressed and stamped and never mailed, queries languish in computer files and manuscripts sit in drawers collecting dust and bitter remnants of dreams.

    Without courage, there would be nothing worth reading.

  5. NKO says:

    We need courage because talent is not enough. You could be the most talented writer in the world, and have worked hard to learn your craft and make your stories the best they can be. But without the courage to weather the disappointments and rejections, you won’t be able to share your stories with the world. And when I say “you” I really mean “I”! I like the phrase “Courage belongs in your toolbox” mostly because I like the idea of a toolbox. A toolbox ain’t glamorous or pretty, but it holds what we need.

  6. This contest is done, but I’m still adding a comment. To be a writer at all takes courage. It’s the first item to go into the toolbox. First the courage to think you can write, then the courage to write, then to keep going when you’re stuck, and go on some more when doubts creep in. The manuscript is finally done and you feel great. Editing time is when you need the courage to say, it needs work, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad or that I can’t write. Then comes courage to write the query, synopsis, research agents, and actually send your manuscript somewhere. Finally, there’s the courage to wait without falling apart and receive rejections without giving up.

  7. jmartinlibrarian says:

    Theresa: Your words ring true. It takes courage to improve! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the discussion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s