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writing

Why Writing Matters

Two toddlers with bubble wandsRecently, 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

Revisiting Tiburon

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.

Anchor and PoppiesI returned to the same trail for… Continue reading

Leaves

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

Alert to the Voices

window view of leafless treesLate November brings a different sort of beauty to New England, with a subtle palette marked by grays. With the foliage gone, new distances emerge in the forests, and exposed branches tangle against the flat sky. We taste the cold air and watch the weather reports for warnings of bad roads. Random snowflakes can appear out of nowhere. You might think we’re inclined to hibernate, but in fact, we’re more alert, not less. We’re thankful, and watchful, and eager to get home safe to our families.

I’m writing, as always.… Continue reading

Apple Season

Four toddler feet on a damp deck with leavesWhen I went apple picking lately with my family, we were told by the woman who sold us two empty half-bushel bags that the farther we went up the hill, the more apples we would find. This advice, though worthy of a life maxim, turned out not to be true. We hardly found enough Cortlands, Macouns and Jonagolds to fill our bags, but the dearth didn’t matter. Three generation strong, we had a sweet time tromping through the long grass and searching the trees for perfection.

It’s helpful to recall… Continue reading

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