Writing novels is at the very core of my life. It follows that I take my craft as a novelist seriously. It’s about continual improvement, about personal best. I feel fortunate that I’ve chosen a profession–an obsession, really–that offers me an opportunity to grow throughout my life, even unto the day they pry my cold, stiff fingers off the keyboard and lay me in a plain, pine box. It’s not like, say, dance, which is over sometime in your 30’s. Your brain can keep forming connections and laying down new pathways. Look at Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST, written when he was no longer young. It’s some of his best writing. The language of that play is sheer beauty.
But I also want to improve as a human being. Writing is so integral to my life that it becomes a springboard from which I launch into almost all other pursuits, endeavors, tasks, responsibilities, roles, and recreations.
Here’s my recent posting on the Huffington Post, in which I wrote:
So, what is story? I ask myself this question every time I sit down at my computer and stare with a peculiar mixture of dread and anticipation at an empty white document page. I’ve attended workshops, read books, interrogated famous authors, and even matriculated in a creative writing graduate program to figure out the answer. The pared-down statement above was taken from screenwriters, who often tackle the issue best. Some novelists seem to look down on screenwriters, but those people deal with story every day, in its palpable, unvarnished essence. They get it right, they make a movie and they eat. Otherwise, not so much. So they’re not kidding around. They have something to teach us novelists.
Indeed, all sorts of people have something useful to teach me. Condescension doesn’t behoove me — respect does. I never know who will toss me the next meaty nugget about writing, or about living.
Also, I don’t want my life to be story-like. I don’t want my life filled with conflict and obstacle, which is how a good writer toys with her characters, prevents them from fulfilling their desires, and sucks in readers. I want my life to be smooth, like the most elegantly milled vanilla ice cream. Peace nourishes my creativity; when my life calms, my mind fills with intriguing possibilities.
Read the article here.