Kimberly Brandolisio '20 on Marie Lamba
On March 29, 2017, Writers House welcomed Marie Lamba, author of three young adult novels, What I Meant..., Over My Head, and Drawn, as well as the upcoming picture book Green, Green. She is also an agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. With the perspectives of both an author and a literary agent, Lamba brought stories and advice from two very different, but equally important, sides of the literary spectrum: writing and publishing.
As an aspiring writer myself, one of the most inspirational pieces of advice Lamba gave is to “identify as a writer.” Being a published author doesn’t make you a writer; writing makes you a writer. You should lean into that identity and nurture the artist in you. Lamba admitted that there will always be setbacks, but as she put it: “don’t be deterred.” You might find that you have a lack of good writing, a lack of support, and no lack of rejections, but you cannot give up. You are a writer. As such, Lamba suggested that you should always be growing, learning, trying new things, and pushing yourself. Writing is a lifelong commitment, and it’s up to you to make it work.
Lamba also gave an introduction to the challenges of the publishing world, from queries to agents to editors to publishers. The literary agent must get through the query letter and the manuscript before offering an author representation, and that is only the beginning. It is then the agent’s job to pitch the manuscript to editors and publishers. It takes time, persistence, and intuition. While writing is an art, publishing is a business.
In other words, writing and publishing are two different worlds, but Lamba inhabits both of them. Her unique perspective allows her to understand both sides of the challenging, complicated literary field and offer helpful, inspiring advice for those of us who identify as writers, hope to get published, or want to work in publishing.
She didn’t sugarcoat it: working in any aspect of the literary world is difficult. However, if it’s your passion and you stick with it, you’ll make it work.
Kimberly Brandolisio '20 is a Writers House student staff member.