“Novels begin, not on the page, but in meditation and daydreaming—in thinking, not writing.”
When I read this quote (taken from an interview with Joyce Carol Oates) my habit of beginning a book in my head, rather than on the page, suddenly made perfect sense. I think a lot, and daydream a lot and walk a lot before I sit down at the computer to write. Not that I plot a book out in detail before I start. (Unless my publisher asks for a synopsis and I have to pretend that I know how a book will unfold). And I always seem to know when it’s time to stop daydreaming and start writing. Not that itís ever easy to start. The first few pages (or chapters) are often quite disheartening. What seemed so perfect in my head turns out to be less than perfect on the page. But thatís okay. I can always walk down to the sea. Or lie on the couch and stare out the window at the maple tree. Or make yet another cup of tea. Or take a nap. Iíve had a lot of great ideas in whatís called a hypnagogic state—the borderland of sleep. Some of them have even made it into my books.
I have been a writer and childrenís book editor for ten years now. Before that I was a bookseller for many years. A bad day for me is a day when I have nothing enthralling to read. Fortunately, that very rarely happens. Someone asked me one day what the most important card in my wallet was. That was easy: my library card. I am an ardent library user. I adore the idea of libraries. Itís FREE, folks. Every Saturday when I was growing up, my mother, a voracious reader, took me and my two brothers to the library. We always signed out as many books as we could on our youth cards. It was a big day for me when I got my adult card. So, yes, Iím a bookworm. And proud of it. One of my brothers is a writer; the other is an English professor. You did good, Mom. (And yes, I know thatís bad grammar.)
My new book, Spirit Level, has now been published. Iím not sure whatís next. I have inklings (what a great word) but Iím still daydreaming it into being. In the meantime, I remind myself to ďPay attention. Not to the grand gesture, but to the passing breath.Ē (Lauren Groff, Arcadia)