When I was 5, I learned that things die, and I immediately began to panic, and then, because I was a budding writer, I figured out a wonderful story about what I thought was true. You go to Heaven after death, I somehow knew, and for every good thing you did, you get to build a house with special bricks, some of them gold. And if you’ve been really, really, really good, well those bricks become diamonds or rubies (whatever your gem preference.)

I couldn’t wait to tell my mother this amazing discovery. My mother snorted when she heard this…

Crucial craft advice from the novel-writing trenches

Photo: sengchoy / Getty Images

Talking about those dual time lines.

Recently on Twitter, I was asking…oh okay, I was really whining in panic…about how to make dual timelines work. I have tried Post Its (they get lost). I have tried index cards (I cannot read my handwriting.) I tried Scrivener Corkboard, which looks like cork and makes a satisfying clunking sound when you move your virtual index cards around, and I loved that up until Scrivener ate two days worth of work.

To my delighted surprise, the writing community came out to help! Celeste Ng told me to think of “hand-offs” when you go…

And why I’m no longer living by them

Illustration by Rebecca de Araujo

I was in my twenties when I first encountered devastating grief. Two weeks before I was to be married, my healthy, young fiancé woke up in the middle of the night and then immediately died of a heart attack in my arms. I collapsed into hysterical grief. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t look when I crossed the busy New York City streets sobbing, because if a truck rolled over me, what would it matter?

I spent a small country’s GDP going to psychics and mediums, looking for hope and meaning, yet finding none. My family and friends…


NYT bestselling author. Co-founder of A Mighty Blaze. Columnist/blogger at Psychology Today. Coffee addict. Curly head.

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