Archive for January, 2011

Always a Writer

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 2 Comments

I have always been a writer, since I was about eight years old. For most of my life I thought writing was just something I did, like breathing or drinking a Coke, something necessary to life, but something that only affected me. Then as time went on, I started offering my stories to friends to read. This was about the 7th and 8th grade…God help them, because the stuff was pure dreck. (Tammy, how did you stand it?) But they encouraged me…two of them are still first readers of mine today. (Thanks Laura and LaDonna!) AndI kept writing.

It didn’t occur to me to try and sell any of it until about 10 years ago. It’s two books later, and I’m still writing. As far as I know, I will keep writing for the rest of my life. This story is no surprise to my fellow writers who may be reading this. You are on the same path. You write because you have to. You know what I mean.

Before I knew how to read, I asked for a typewriter. For my fourth birthday, I got one. A bright, sunny yellow typewriter. I remember wondering why all the letters were out of order. I banged away on that thing for years until I broke it, whether there was paper in it or not, long before I learned to tell stories of my own. I guess I was practicing.

I’ve been through another typewriter since then, and I’ve graduated to a lap top, but I still love the sound of my fingers hitting the keys when I work. I have a feeling that the other writers who read this will know the sound I mean. The sound of new worlds being born. One of the best sounds in the world.

Becoming a Better Writer

Monday, January 24th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 2 Comments

Like everyone who puts pen to paper, I am trying to become a better writer. I work hard and keep myself in my chair in the hopes that I will continue to improve, so that Eleanor and Henry and all the characters I will work with for the rest of my life will be honored more and more as my skills as a storyteller stretch and grow. Of course, I am not alone in this, but I love it when I find evidence of another writer who feels as I do, and openly admits it in an interview.

In the reader’s guide for her novel, WHERE THE GOD OF LOVE HANGS OUT, Amy Bloom made a comment that I want to repeat here. It resonated with me, that a writer as experienced and moving as she is would say it.  Once more I am reminded that while we all sit alone to do our work, there is a huge community of writers, a tribe one might say, who are all working in our own way toward the same goal.

Amy Bloom said, “I think I am a better writer and am more able to put the skills I have in the service of my characters.”

And I’m reminded that I want to keep becoming better, not just to serve my characters and the story, but  to serve my readers as well. We’re all connected by the love of story-telling, after all. Readers and writers are all part of the same tribe.

Labyrinth at Battery Park

Friday, January 21st, 2011 | Labyrinth Walks, The Writing Life | 1 Comment

One of my favorite places in New York City, and there are many such places, is the labyrinth at Battery Park. I discovered that this labyrinth existed when my friend Audrey was visiting me in the city. And what a lovely unexpected surprise it was to find such a space of quiet green in the middle of the throngs of people heading to the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty. The Battery Park Labyrinth is almost hidden behind greenery that looks a little like weeds from a distance, tucked behind a cast iron fence that lies open to the adventurous. I thought as we approached that the internet had it wrong, that such a place could not possibly exist at the edge of the Financial District. But it is there.

The next time you go to New York, head downtown and check out the spiral path that lies beneath the skyscrapers. Step into one of the first five cars of the 1 Train and ride it to the end of the line. The spiral path of this labyrinth is worth the trek.

Windows into Other Worlds

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 | The Writing Life | No Comments

The thing I love most about reading a good book is diving in and feeling as if the author has opened a window into another world. I love being transported to a new time and place by characters who have the capacity to teach me something.

I feel the same way when I’m writing. Especially during the first draft of a novel, my characters take me into their world and teach me a little of what it is like to live there. They transport me, as I one day hope to transport my readers. Writing is an adventure in which the book is the boss, and characters show me things I otherwise never  would have seen.

A Labyrinth I Have Yet To Walk

Friday, January 14th, 2011 | Labyrinth Walks, The Writing Life | No Comments

One of the labyrinths I have yet to walk, one of many, is the beautiful, ancient labyrinth at the Cathedral of Chartres in France. Built sometime between 1200 and 1240, it is old enough that Princess Alais might have walked it. Though I have been to Paris three times, I have never traveled any farther from the city than Versailles. The next time I go, I must plan a day trip to the cathedral at Chartres. From what I understand, many of the labyrinths I have already walked are based on this one. What a beautiful place…

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