Over the Mountain
I’m in a good place.
When I spoke to my agent a couple weeks ago, Kirby told me my latest draft has transformed my novel. The characters, he said, now leap off the page, and everything about the novel—the pacing, the world, and the plot—are all working. Certain scenes moved him deeply. In short, he loved it, and he wanted to know how I’d done what I’d done. As we talked and I explained how I’d rewritten the entire thing, taking out certain plot constraints so… Continue reading
I was thinking about the way business partners schedule monthly meetings to check up on goals and progress, and I felt a twinge of envy, wondering if I’d be more accountable to myself if I had such a meeting. A business meeting. It isn’t practical for me at all, but I realized I do want a clearer way to see my progress.
So I started a progress bar on my website, over in the right column. It doesn’t really capture total progress because it only records progress through my latest… Continue reading
Why Writing Matters
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
What We Don’t Know About Writing a Novel
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