Sara Codair lives in a world of words, writing fiction in every free moment, teaching writing at a community college and binge-reading fantasy novels. When not lost in words, Sara can often be found hiking, swimming, or gardening.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Surround yourself with words. Write everyday. Read every day. Never stop. Never give up
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I love speculative fiction, whether it be science fiction, fantasy, or magical realism. I’m big a fan of Jim Butcher, Ann Bishop, Holly Black and Libba Bray, but lately, I’ve discovered some new YA authors who write amazing books, like Emily Henry and Sarah Nicole Lemon.
How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?
First, I look how much I actually write, and how much I revise what I write. If I actually complete and polish pieces, I count that as a success. Second, I need to publish those pieces someplace that pays, even if it is just a few dollars. If I do that, then I’ve succeeded at publishing. I’ve done those two things many times. Third, I need to get an agent and a book deal. I haven’t succeeded at that yet, but I’m trying. My fourth and final measure is that I keep writing and keep revising, no matter what life throws at me.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later. Figure out where you write best, and just go there for an hour at the beginning or end of every day. If you can’t do that, work on a story you can live and breath, thinking about while you drive, and what you thought in the parking lot before you get out of your car and go to where you are going.
Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
Definitly in between. To use the National Novel Writing Month term, I’m a planster. I plan a few things and do other by the seat of my pants. Planning too much restricts my thinking. No planning enough leaves me lost in a giant manuscript with no end in sight. Finding the middle ground is key for me to finish a novel.
How do you deal with rejections?
I collect them like battle scars and dents in my old jeep. They’re proof I tried, failed and learned. They are my persistence, and they make acceptance so much sweeter. Publishing is all about finding the right fit – the right editor for the right story. Sometimes I hit it on the first try. Some stories get rejected 20+ times before they find a home, and my novel has been rejected by over 50 agents. I’m getting close to 100. I’m not giving up yet.
In your opinion, how important is a writing degree or MFA when it comes to achieving success in writing fiction?
It depends on the person. I think it can motivate you to finish your first novel, give you great feedback and help you make connections. It can also crush your soul. Two of my co-workers have MFA’s from programs I used to dream about. I have an MS in Literature. I’ve published dozens of short stories, completed three novels, am working on my fourth novel and am really hopeful about a particular agent who is reviewing my full manuscript. My coworkers with MFA’s from Columbia and Emerson have yet to finish a novel and have published little to no short fiction. Sometimes I regret not getting the MFA. Most of the time, I’m happy with my choices. I’m still along way from achieving my long term goals, but I have a job I love, the perfect house for writing, an amazing husband, and a pretty good shot at making writing a career sooner or later.
Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
Two in person groups and one online. Don’t ask me which format is better – they both have their values. The bottom line is that feedback is essential to growing as a writer. I’m lucky to have a network of people who are great at giving feedback.
What are your writing goals for the next five years?
Get an agent. Get a book deal and another, and another. Make enough money from those books to work a little less and write a little more. I don’t ever plan to quite my job at Northern Essex Community College, but being an adjunct/part-time-professional staff can be stressful – I don’t want to burn out. If I can make enough money from fiction writing to teach 6 credits instead of 12 and tutor three days instead of four, I will be content.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Feel free to share a link. I blog about writing/publishing, cats, food and teaching at https://saracodair.com/.