Whenever I hang out sheets to dry on the line, I think of my mom doing the same thing up north at the cabin in Minnesota where we went every summer when I was a kid. The place had a washer but no dryer, and she depended on energy from the sun to dry clothes for her family of nine. She would flap out the shorts and shirts, dishtowels and jeans, and peg them all efficiently on the white ropes that crisscrossed the back yard. Her shoes would tread paths… Continue reading
Last week, I met up for lemonade in Bryant Park with a friend I last saw in graduate school, decades ago. Yesterday, I introduced two of my friends to each other and learned one had a postcard which she’d kept on her fridge for eight years, a postcard that happened to be designed by the other. A friend of mine, away for the year on sabbatical, became a grandmother nine days ago and sent me a picture of the new baby. When I was… Continue reading
Recently, I was invited to join the Writers Council of the National Writing Project, and for this I was asked to state why I believe writing is important. It’s a worthy question, and I chewed it over.
As I see it, three facets of writing matter: the original act of getting down a first draft, the revising puzzle, and the chance that a final result might move a reader. They’re intertwined, of course, but the real power lies in those first two stages. When we create and deepen our… Continue reading
Eleven years ago, when my family was on sabbatical in Tiburon, California, I wrote Birthmarked, my first young adult novel. I would often take walks in the afternoon while my children were at school, and my path led me into the grassy hills, past Old St. Hilary’s and copious poppies. Sometimes, when I was stuck in a plot snag, the walking would loosen up a new idea for me to try, and to this day, I feel grateful to those hills.
I returned to the same trail for… Continue reading
As I drove across Connecticut yesterday, the leaves west of Hartford had all just come out, making pale yellow, lacy crowns on the treetops. For mile after mile, they graced the side of the road, bright and bridal. Further east, as the road climbed, the season retreated again to bare branches, as if spring had clutched back its favors. But not for long. If you watch carefully here, you can observe a maple going green in a single day, and it spreads in wild contagion as the neighboring species catch… Continue reading
If you knew before you started a novel that it would take you over a year to produce a decent draft, would you begin? Would you keep working on it, week after week, devoting every spare hour to it, even if you couldn’t tell whether it was going to be a good novel in the end?
Sometimes I’m glad I can’t see the future because the work of writing can seem endless, but after a point, the issue of time hardly matters. If you’re like me, working steadily on a… Continue reading