Today I’m excited to welcome Liz Arcury to the BookEnds family! Liz is a writer and performer whose collection of deeply personal essays immediately won me over with its mix of candor, humor, and heart. I know you’ll love Liz’s voice as much as I did, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
Welcome to BookEnds, Liz!
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
The Pisces by Melissa Broder. It perfectly encapsulates the loneliness of modern dating and splashes it against the backdrop of the fairytales that colored most of our childhoods and initial ideas of love. I sit in awe and admiration of its humor and bleak realism mixed with incredibly detailed fantasy.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Performing on stage at alt comedy and storytelling shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan, watching weird horror movies at the revival houses in my neighborhood, and fretting about how I should really be reading and writing more.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
@LizArcury on Twitter & Instagram
What’s the last book you read?
You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian. I had pre-ordered it upon first hearing about it because I’m such a fan of hers (many may know Kristen as the writer of “Cat Person”) and when it arrived on its release day I read almost all of it that night. It’s a really incredible short story collection. She has such an incisive, cut-to-the-chase way of discussing relationships and their dysfunctions and I remain mesmerized. I can’t recommend it enough!
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
A remote cabin overlooking a lake, stocked with an infinite amount of coffee and breakfast food (my favorite,) and a dog at my side.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
“What comes from the heart goes to the heart. The rest is Funny Voices.” – David Mamet, True and False. This book is about acting, but I read it with my improv group in college [specifically because our director at BU was friends with someone in New York who had received this book recommendation years before from DC Pierson (of Derrick Comedy fame) in their college sketch group. So a long overdue three degrees of thanks, DC!] and we all got so much from it for extrapolating its lessons to be about any kind of creativity. I still revisit it and it has informed my writing one-thousand percent.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Keep going keep going keep going! I realize that this gets obnoxious to hear from everybody. But I swear, it’s the truth! There might be other people more connected than you, or more visible than you, or who started earlier than you. It’s hard to not get discouraged when you count up all the parts of this industry that we can’t control. What is the one part of this that you can control? Your resilience. Keep going. That will separate you from 90% of the others. It really will. I’m only 26 and have already seen so many of my talented peers my age completely give up on their creative pursuits that they moved to the city with me for just a few years ago. They got discouraged after not hitting it big after 18 months. So they stopped. They got a serious significant other, they settled in at a safe normal job, and they go home from work every day and rewatch six episodes of Parks & Recreation and then go to sleep. Yes, in the short term, that sounds easy and relaxing, as opposed to grinding away and wading in constant rejection and putting yourself on the line over and over again. When you’re in those holes of despair and frustration and want to throw it all away (this is me like 40x a week,) that life sounds like a heavenly escape. But those people did have a dream and a drive at one time, and I believe with my whole heart that they will wake up when they’re 50 and deeply regret not using this one short fleeting life to do the impossible (because it’s not, in fact, impossible.) Don’t give up! Breaks? Absolutely. Self-care is vital. But don’t settle for the bare minimum forever because it got hard or a thing wasn’t handed to you after two years of trying. You owe yourself more than that! You owe yourself your dream. So keep going!
On a very practical advice level, PitMad is an amazing opportunity, and you should definitely do it. Any writer really should be able to fit their book pitch into tweet-length anyway! That’s how it will be sold and marketed to stakeholders and to the world eventually. And get your work out there in other ways! Submit essay and article pitches all over the place. Visible bylines upon Googling your name help a ton with being taken seriously by people in the industry, and especially the ones who will eventually be reading your queries. So pitch pitch pitch pitch all the time! Don’t wait for permission. No one who is successful did! A publication’s editorial staff is not going to sift through the internet and reach out to you specifically to write a piece, unless you’re Michelle Obama or something. Force people to hear your voice! You have to be your own salesperson and marketer and industry ambassador. Pitch everywhere, all the time, and this is the big one: follow up. You must nudge nudge nudge away. Nearly every article I’ve had accepted is because I didn’t let the email thread die after my initial pitch. Editors are humans and are likely overworked and will miss a lot of stuff! So be your own advocate. You are worth their time and attention. After all, what makes everyone else so special? You deserve to be read just as much as anyone else. Why not you? Be unapologetic and advocate for your voice.