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Beth Hautala is author of Waiting For Unicorns, and The Ostrich And Other Lost Things. She lives with her husband and four children in northern Minnesota where she strives to write stories that tie heart and imagination together. 




Stories Matter

I sat in the parking lot at Target this morning and Kate DiCamillo talked to me about writing. It was an intimate conversation. She talked. I listened. —And for once, all felt well in the writing world.

Yesterday I posted on Why I Write, and as I continue to ponder this question and sift through the myriad of possible answers, I was blown away by how perfectly DiCamillo articulated what I have been trying to—with significantly more success.

MPR—Minnesota Public Radio—aired this interview this afternoon and I believe Grace alone tuned me in, leaving me deeply encouraged and re-inspired. Please, if you do nothing else today, listen to this interview. It is not only worth your time, but it effectively reminds each one of us that story—however it is told—is necessary to the survival of human kind.

"Stories Matter," Audio Interview with Kate DiCamillo

Why I Write

I used to be a little hesitant about telling people I write.

“What do you do?” The invariable question.

“I um . . . well I . . .” The invariable answer.

There is something difficult about telling people I set words to paper (or screen) for a living, and that yes, it is actually a viable profession. I’m not going to get rich off of it, but it’s viable nonetheless—that which gives me life. Which, in turn, is an appropriate answer to the second question I almost always receive.


Why do I write?

I could go several different directions with this one.

I hate math. Also, I’ve never been great at working with electricity or flashing saw blades (I can do these things, but not proficiently). I tend to get a little uncomfortable with public speaking. I can’t fly planes.

Trust me, there are a lot of logical reasons why writing is a reasonable profession.

But I didn’t get into it for logical reasons.

Words do something for me in the same way oxygen does something for me. I get up every morning knowing that I can reorganize my emotions, my convictions, and my belief in the impossible—my very self—in a manageable form if I can just reach a piece of paper. A transaction occurs from heart, to pen, to paper—a kind of breathing that is not all that different than the physical action my body performs.

It’s not that I always have something profound to say. Any small trace of profundity I might have once possessed was derailed by the birth of my children. But then, writing is not always about saying something. It is about how something is said. Solomon himself wrote that nothing new exists under the sun. The man was spot on.

I am convinced that even the most brilliant, inspired, genius storyteller—past, present, or future—will produce nothing intrinsically new. Everything is simply a retelling of what has been said already, plotted time and again, and closed with “The End,” et infinite.

But that’s alright, because here’s the part I love best:

It may have all been said before, but none of by me. And seriously, how great is that? I hear and feel and experience life in a way different from any other person on earth—and that isn’t some kind of egotistical expression of greatness, believe me. Because I’m not alone. Each and every person with breath in his or her body can claim the very same thing. One might use a saw blade or a coiled copper wire, another might fly planes or stand in front of large audiences, but every trader wields his tool with as much proficiency as he or she can muster. For me, the tool of my trade is a handful words.

Why do I write?

Because I want to say something beautiful in a way that rings true with every person who reads it.

Because there is nothing more perfect than a well placed word.

Because writing is my exhale.

Because I want some part of me to remain.

Because words create—shaping and forming nothing into something.

Because when I do this craft to the best of my ability and with open hands, I am able to glorify the God who spoke existence into existence with words . . .

Because this is what I love.



What a day! I won at The Baker's Dozen Agent Auction!

Truly, NO ONE is more surprised than me today. I'm giddy. Almost sick!

  1. I got a request for a FULL from one of my CHOICE agents at Curtis Brown Literary Agency.
  2. I got a second request for a FULL from an agent I had queried earlier. She missed out on the bidding because my entry went so fast (I was the first entry closed!), but she sent me an email requesting a full anyway, outside the auction.
  3. Two other agents are interested in seeing FULLS  if the first two agents pass.

I am sitting in front of my computer screen with a glass of wine, celebrating quietly. 

Now comes the waiting game. I will submit full manuscripts of Waiting For Unicorns to both of the agents who requested to see them, and wait to hear what they think. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high and to just wait, clear-headedly, but the ideal end goal would be representation and eventually a sold book.

I'll keep you all posted, of course.

Thank you for all of your support. It has been a GOOD DAY.