November 27th, 2014
I am working on a story about birds. Or rather a story about birds is working on me. It has got me noticing how utterly obsessed the human race is with birds. And I’m thinking they don’t feel the same way about us.
September 27th, 2014
June 28th, 2014
Not for the first time I have been asked for a self portrait only to have it politely refused in favor of something more cheerfully normal. All of us are so many creatures, we wear so many hats.
This dear blogosphere is myself in my mind’s eye.
June 28th, 2014
December 31st, 2013
I think the appeal of a resolution is that it promises to knit our lives into a story. I hunger for story as much as the next person, but I’m here to remind you we can’t decide what the story is really about before it begins. In this particular case it begins tomorrow.
One year I let go of the burden of a resolution that would wag a finger at me all year long. Instead of hoping to lose a few pounds or keep my closet neat, in some marvelous flash of self acceptance, I resolved to be willing to be surprised. Was this specific enough I fretted. Yes, indeed it was. Instead of being faced with my dreary failure to open mail more diligently or keep my desk clear I was cheered on by the persistence of my own folly. Leaving the window open just a crack I had let in a little more wonder.
December 15th, 2013
If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life. —Siberian Elder
November 4th, 2013
Lately , when I wasn’t trying to write, seemingly unable to finish a manuscript, (and occasionally sending it out only to hastily demand it back) I was listening to podcasts. Whether I appeared to be deep in thought on the subway or choosing apples at the greenmarket, I was in actual fact immersed in a conversation on the BBC about what Lauren Bacall might take to a desert island, or a Ted talk that made me love something I previously thought I had hated. Mostly though I hungrily devoured interviews with authors fed me through earbuds. I assumed I did it to get some clue or insight into the secret of how I would finish my novel. As I continued to listen though I began to notice it wasn’t that. In fact I was hardly listening. I’d heard it all by now, and yet I was waiting to hear something else.
I found out what that was one day while climbing a flights of stairs. When asked how she knew when she had finished a novel Maxine Hong Kingston explained she never did finish. For that reason Ms Kingston told her interviewer, her paperback books are often very different from the hardback editions. I stopped half way up the stairs already gloating. Even in bookshops, she explained, she has been known to get out a pen and begin to make changes. Ms Kingston said all of this not as though she thought it was either especially cute, or particularly exasperating, just as a simple statement of fact and for this fact I adored her. I guess I just wanted to one up someone. Because, of course, I would never do that even if I wanted to.
May 7th, 2013
I am in the process of editing a manuscript which will one day be my next book.
My latest favorite way to trick my brain into knowing how I ought to arrange the words, what should be cut out, what needs to be added in, is a little strange. Are you ready? It began when I began to enjoy the pleasures of listening to audio books. That’s something I do now and then, and then forget about for a few years. It’s a wonderful way to take in a book and my daughter and I recently “read” Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence “together” that way, she on the bus to and from her job in Istanbul, me walking the aisles of Trader Joe’s. My audible.com bills were getting a little out of control so I turned to free books on the BBC and iTunes U. Did you know you can now “take out” audible books from your public library (mine anyway) by downloading them and never even have to leave your computer? That was also a source of great joy, as I walked, and did mindless chores which I now tried to think up. Okay so another thing I like to do is swim, but swimming gets boring. Can you see where this is going? Well long story short now I listen to my own writing while swimming and when I do I know how it needs to be changed or if it does. I know it in a way I wouldn’t on dry land looking at a printed page. Maybe it’s just that there is no way I am going to open my email or google something or hear a phone ringing. Maybe I was a fish in a former life. For whatever reason it works and that’s the main thing and no I don’t ever feel the need, or even the urge to begin writing notes underwater. So now you know.
I did warn you this was going to be strange.
March 18th, 2012
What pure joy to get this email from Leander Texas, and on my birthday as well.
I just want to say thank you for writing. I’ve always struggled with my 11-year old daughter and reading. She found your books this week and read Cinderella in one night. I just went and bought Thumbelina for her. I don’t think she’s ever finished a book, so I wanted to say thank you! We’ll keep an eye out for more…
It helps to have a picture in my mind of this and so many other readers as I work to finish the next one, which I can promise will be really REALLY GOOD. In the meantime happy reading!
February 21st, 2012
In order to dig deeper into this business of writing for kids I have been reading more kids’ books. Sort of. Many of them turn out to be “cross over” but officially they are for children. Fascinating how a book I may have read as a child is such a different experience to read as an adult. The Little Prince struck me as overly cute. Almost like it had too much sugar I don’t think I was even able to finish it. Now I’m struck by how original it is and profound. That’s a little strange. Oh but I was older then, I’m younger than that now.