Saturday, March 3, 2018

Be Nice to Writers

One of my favorite books when I was a kid was BE NICE TO SPIDERS by Margaret Bloy Graham. The story is about a spider named Helen who goes to live at the zoo, and soon she's got the place bug-free, and the animals are all clean and happy – until the Zookeeper orders the place cleared of spiderwebs. 

Helen takes refuge in the Camel House, where the camels stay blessedly bug-free, but the rest of the zoo falls to the bugs. 

The whole point is – let a spider do the work she's meant to do. Yes, it may be a little messy sometimes, but it's important work.

Same goes for writers. If you can do one thing for us, it's give us the space – and time -- to do our work. My husband, who has 25+ years now living with a writer is brilliant at this: whenever I get grumpy, he just says, “go write.” He knows I NEED to write. 

Just like Helen the little spider, it's the work I'm meant to do. It's not always easy or convenient to be married to be, or to share parenting with me, or a home. But it's important work. Just ask Helen. And Charlotte. And any other writer.

In addition to my husband, SO MANY writers and readers have been kind to me, in a multitude of ways! My home is full of given treasures related to my books– I'm so grateful! But, you know, it doesn't have to be a grand gesture to make a writer feel loved and valued and ready to tackle the next sentence, the next page. 

Here are some things you can do:

1. Leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

2. Write a note to a writer to let them know you liked the book.

3. Tell a friend or a librarian or a bookseller about a friend's book.

4. Write a blog post.

5. Recommend a writer as a speaker at a conference or book festival.

6. Give friend's book as a gift.

7. Listen to friend ramble about new project.

8. Be a beta reader.

9. Invite writer to go out and do fun things that may eventually inspire other books (and in the meantime gets writers away from the desk).

10. Chocolate. You can't go wrong with chocolate... at least for THIS writer. :)
Irene Latham is an Alabama author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books for children and adults, including Leaving Gee's Bend, 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year and Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship (with Charles Waters). Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she also serves as poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal.


  1. Wonderful ways to honor and support each other.

  2. This is very worthwhile information and list. Thank you!!