Chris Lynch (Writing for Young People, MFA Writing Faculty), author of Inexcusable (2012), Freewill (2004), and many others, sits down to chat with his former student Sara Farizan (WFYP Alumna), who has written several novels, including Here to Stay and If You Could Be Mine. Together they discuss the impact of music on writing, adapting to new work schedules during the pandemic, how getting published affects one’s writing life, publicizing your own work through social media, and the responsibility present in writing for young people.

Check out some highlights from the conversation below!

Music is a big part of process and when I decide like, today’s a good day that I’m gonna really bang stuff out, I have some playlists ready and based on the project or based on songs that I feel I know well enough that I don’t really have to pay attention, and I’ll just have one song on repeat for a long time or some songs that are new to me but are older and they kind of hit a sweet spot of like, what it’s doing for the scene or what it’s doing for the character.

Sara Farizan

We cannot teach you how to publish but we can teach you how to get to that point where you’re writing something where you go, ‘Jesus, I just have to show this to somebody this makes me so happy.’ That’s what you’re there [at the Lesley MFA program] to find out.

Chris Lynch

What I’ve said to myself since my second book came out is like, I just want to be able to keep doing this. Not, oh, I can’t wait to be on this list or I can’t wait to win this, like, none of that has ever entered my—sure sometimes I feel a little professional-like envy, like, oh, that’d be really cool to work on that or, oh that’s so great they’ve made oodles of money doing that, I mean yes. […] It’s human, but my goal has been, I just want to keep doing this for as long as I can.

Sara Farizan

I think it’s a huge responsibility because you are writing for people who will become readers. I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘Oh, I gave Here to Stay to our reluctant readers.’ I don’t think readers are reluctant. I think they want to read about stuff that resonates with them. So if you’re giving them books that are great classics—and I’m not disparaging any books, but a kid today can’t really sink their teeth into it—then of course they’re not going to want to pick it up. So I think there’s a huge level of responsibility and there’s a lot of craft stuff that if you’re doing it well makes it look easy.

Sara Farizan on the stigma that writing for young people is easier.

You have to always kind of replenish the well, you know? Like there might be a couple weeks or a month where you’re just like, ‘I’ve had it, I don’t want to look at this anymore, I don’t wanna,’ […] that’s the thing about movies, right? They have montages. You know, like the writing a book montage or the preparing for the big battle montage. The reason they’re a montage is because they’re difficult and you don’t want to spend all that time. […] Life is not a montage, it takes time even if you have that initial, ‘Oh, my book’s getting published!’ I feel there’s still a lot that goes into that time and what you do after that.

Sara Farizan

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