Advice to young writers from author Anne Tibbets
: “Practice. Practice. Practice some more. Rewrite. Rewrite some more. Read as much as humanly possible. And don’t ever stop, just keep going.”
Anne was a delightful guest at Learning Ally’s Los Angeles studio last month, as part of our Authors for Access program. As a Smashwords.com bestselling author of Young Adult fantasy and someone who “just kept going” herself, Anne turned her undiagnosed childhood bout with depression into a new book, Shut Up
, that rides close to her heart and far from her previous subjects. Anne got into the booth to kick off recording Shut Up
to add to Learning Ally’s national library of more than 70,000 accessible textbooks and independent reading.
Anne shared that she began her writing career as a playwright, but quickly realized that, while she adored the theatre, she wasn’t willing to starve for the craft. “I really kind of wanted to eat. So I decided that I was going to write for television instead.” After a promising career as a television writer mostly for children's programming, Anne decided she was ready to have a family. And 16-hour days on set would not work if she wanted to raise kids.
Anne then took time out to raise her family, eventually “…being home for long periods of time, with nothing to do but babysit my children. So I decided to write a book! And then it kind of spiraled from there.” The author now has three published books, and is receiving rave reviews for Shut Up
. The book is short at 118 pages, but dense with her emotional honesty.
is a departure for me because customarily, I enjoy the world of escapism: fantasy, magic, sword fights, and time travel. This particular book was based in reality. And I find that much harder to deal with, because people—and the world—are now quite complicated.
“The life and death situations are not a wizard barreling down on you with lightning bolts; this is actually your mother with a wire fly swatter handle. So it was much more poignant, I thought, and had a deeper line of meaning.”
If I couldn’t read, I would quite likely end up listening to books. I cannot be without a beautiful strain of words, one right after another. I would miss it terribly."
Anne has her own idea of a “summer reading program,” as one who easily knocks off a dozen books while her children are home on break and she takes a hiatus from writing. She doesn’t rely on a singular genre for her pleasure reading, residing happily in tomes from J. K. Rowling to Jane Austen to Stephen King. And in appreciation of Learning Ally’s mission to provide access to books for all, she says, “If I couldn’t read, I would quite likely end up listening to books. I cannot be without a beautiful strain of words, one right after another. I would miss it terribly."
Anne profoundly appreciates the fact that her book will now be accessible to people across the country who cannot read in the traditional fashion. In fact, knowing her book will be accessible to all is "pretty much, a dream come true. The whole idea of writing a book is so that everyone will be able to read it, or listen to it, or however you get to it. Because it’s a story that I definitely, deeply wanted everyone to hear, so that they can take what they can from it and move on with their lives.”
And while Anne was a bit nervous recording her own words in the beginning, she easily adjusted during her volunteer experience. Being a full-fledged Author for Access is not lost on her. “I just want to thank Learning Ally for including me. Everything they are doing here is miraculous and fantastic, and I fully support them. I want to thank everyone for including me.”
Listen to Anne's spot-on advice to aspiring writers: