Friday, May 12, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #7: "The books I would write..."


I would write books that people want to climb inside of and live in!

Books about mermaids and gypsies and India; about Venice, vampires, brimstone, magic carpets, wickedness, ladies hatched from eggshells, secrets, and journeys by camel that end with a kiss. I would write about tattoos and violins and a lover with an eyepatch, about a street with a cat standing sentry on every single porch, and about a nun who can freeze your blood just by looking at you. I would write about gambits and destinies and risk, about deep, aching, hungry love and about spite, and vengeance, and murder. I would write about the summer house of the ambassador from hell, and the state dinner when the angel got locked in the loo. I would write about the lengths a young girl would go to to save the world, and the frisson of touching one’s soulmate for the first time, and the wicked, wicked things humans do to the earth, and to each other, and the beautiful things, too. And of course, of course, I would write about magic. Always.

I can’t seem to keep magic out of my stories. I don’t try. I read all kinds of books, but when I write, magic seeps in around the edges, come what may, just as when I draw, my characters grow wings without even asking permission. I think that’s a good rule of thumb anyway: one should never ask permission to grow wings but just grow them, new ones every day: hawk wings and dragonfly wings and bat wings and bumblebee wings and flamingo wings and origami wings and doily wings and cobweb wings and invisible wings that tickle people when they hug you! Try them all out.

The Sunday Scribblings prompt was “what books WOULD you write,” not “what books WILL you write,” to make is sound like a daydream and not a pledge, like fun instead of work, but I do have a queue of books lined up in my head ready to be written, and I hope that now that I’ve written the first one I’ve begun to learn how to do it, and the others will find their way out too! In the early days of trying to write this book the thing that got in my way the most was being unable to decide between two ideas, and which I should devote my time to: my witch book or my faerie book? I loved them both. I went back and forth and never succeeded in getting past the first few chapters of either. And I might have gone on and on like that forever had not some fortuitous positive feedback set me on a course to developing what SARK calls “a habit of completion.” I wrote the faerie book, and the witch book is still swimming around in my mind, and it continues to grow and stretch even in its hibernation, even as it bumps into the other books waiting their turns.

So this exercise “the books I would write,” is very real to me. In Salman Rushdie’s Haroun & the Sea of Stories there’s a kind of spigot that when turned on flows stories, and I wish that were the case with my brain, but it’s not. More like, my stories are skittish litttle phantasms hiding out in my brain, and I need to coax them out with infinite patience and trickery. Does anyone else feel like this? Do you have a shy book-stowaway hiding in your brain? At the SCBWI conference a few weeks ago the Newberry award-winning writer Karen Cushman told how she'd come to finally write her first book at age 50. She was always telling her husband her ideas for stories until one day he told her he wouldn't listen to another idea, but that if she WROTE it down, he'd read it. And thus began the journey of writing her first book! Tough love! I'm curious. As I devised this topic for this week, I wondered, how many people out there want to write a book in their lives? How many plan to? You?

To read more Scribbles (& maybe participate), go here!

40 comments:

Ali la Loca said...

Oh, I just LOVE the idea of growing wings without asking permission.

I will be composing my entry to Sunday Scribblings today. Reading your post has given me that little nudge I needed to write what I really want to write about. I will think of wings and tough love the whole time as I put down my ideas.

Thanks!

fern_leaf said...

"Books about mermaids and gypsies and India; about Venice, vampires, brimstone, magic carpets, wickedness, ladies hatched from eggshells, secrets, and journeys by camel that end with a kiss"

Ok, these are the only books I want to read from now on. Like..ever. LOL.

I loved this!

megg said...

Hi there - as I am privileged (can't spell privileged) enough to have read (just over half and completely bewitched!!!) something of yours, I can say with all of the strength and the furor of a new friend and new FAN that you need to do nothing but write and draw all day every day. Laini, you have a rare and magical GIFT and you need to bring all of your waiting stories out into the world! I know what kind of pressure that can be, but you are an astounding writer with a rare imagination - please don't ever stop giving us glimpses into it!!

GoGo said...

I like the idea of a spigot that spews out stories...I want one in my head...as always I love coming to your page and reading about your world. Thanks for revealing so much to us.

bella said...

i really loved reading this entry - your ideas are full of magic and imagination.
~and the idea of growing wings without permission.. that sentence alone was amazing.
I'd love to write a book in my lifetime.. I'd need many writer's classes beforehand.

Susannah said...

'a book-stowaway hiding in your brain' - i love the idea of this, and yes, i have many. idea embryos that are gaining weight and stretching their (dragonfly) wings, just waiting to be born.

this is such an inspiring post, as ever, Laini. when do we get to read your faerie book?!
Sx

Jennifer said...

Can't wait to buy every book you write. You are so amazing and imaginative and magical.

paris parfait said...

I was hooked from the first sentence! Your writing is filled with magic. I know what you mean about Rushdie's Haroun & the Sea of Stories; I love magical realism too, a la Isabel Allende. Thank you for this beautiful post.

Alexandra S said...

This is such a beautiful post Laini in every way from description to sentiment to encouragement.

Jim Di Bartolo said...

I'm so glad you've gotten better about coaxing those stories out of your head because you've written the best comic I've ever read (trying not to be biased here! :) and the best novel I've ever read. I can't wait to see what else you coax out (and remember that any time I've ever nagged you to write: I NAG BECAUSE I LOVE!!!! :) And I hope that one story that I've nagged you about a lot over the past 2 years or so will one day wiggle itself out! :) Although, I know you've got too much on your plate for now, but DAMN (!) that first chapter chucked me to the edge of a cliff and I've been dangling there ever since! :)

Okay, now I'm nagging publicly, and, like I've said, you've got enough to keep you busy for now, so...

LOVE YA!
Jim

jenclair said...

What a wonderful entry! I'm enchanted by your list of possibilities...books that I'd love to climb inside and live in.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

wonderful post; fun to read everyone's possiblities

Patry Francis said...

"...books that people would want to climb in and live." Oh yes, that says it all. Thanks for starting this wonderful Sunday art!

JavaCurls said...

I definitely would love to climb in & live some of these stories. Especially if these stories are infused with magic!

Kristy said...

Neat peak into your mind, your art. Why does this not surprise me?

Marilyn said...

I usually don't like to read others' SS posts until I've written my own (I like to come at the prompt fresh), but I've had such an insane week that I'm quite behind in my blog reading...so I wanted to read your post and check in and say HI. You work DOES carry magic, Laini...it seems steeped in it. I imagine there are many of us who would gladly line up to buy ANY book you might choose to write. By the way, I think I knew a nun like that... ;)

Catherine said...

What a rich list of ideas! I write poetry, mostly, so my first book will probably be a poetry collection, or the family history I also plan to write. But I am just beginning to nourish a dream to write fiction too. Sunday Scribblings may just encourage me on that path.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

You are a wonderful waterful that I want to stand by and feel the cool mist upon my face! Deightful flowing words and dreams to dance in, that is how I feel after reading you! Please write many books!!

liz elayne said...

laini...how i love to just visit you here and feel the inspiration flow over me. truly. how blessed i am to know you.
this week's topic had me turning the ideas over and over in my head. and i am beginning to own the fact that i feel i do have a book (or two or ten) inside me jut waiting to come together in the form of words on a page...my words.

and i can't wait to read your stories...more and more stories.

Left-handed Trees... said...

This reader, too, would like to climb inside and live anywhere mermaids, gypsies, Venice, secrets and your surreal magic-words would reside...

Maggie said...

"I think that’s a good rule of thumb anyway: one should never ask permission to grow wings but just grow them, new ones every day..." That was something I desperately needed to read today. Thank you.

Amber said...

I think living inside your head, or your story-world would be a little like crawling inside a Maxfield Parrish painting, where the light is just a little more golden and magical. I would happily go along.

:)

Jeremy said...

It's that 'habit of completion' which is so hard. (No problem with the habit of starting). Also the unrest amongst the stowaways. Will persevere.

deirdre said...

I think I feel a little flutter between my shoulderblades.

ESB said...

i agree with everyone else: it's totally inspiring to witness your brain and heart, which are just bursting with creative energy....i really look forward to reading your (first) book when it arrives.

chest of drawers said...

I´ve just been reading through some Sunday Scribblings and the ripple you and Meg have awakened is incredible! So many amazing people! So many books just waiting...

Chelle Y. said...

Your book sounds like it would be so much fun to read. I love books like that!

HoBess said...

I have many shy characters stowing away in my brain, perhaps because I so often ask permission to grow wings. I'm cutting and pasting now, printing more of your wisdom for my refrigerator door. THANK YOU!

aithbhreac said...

Thank you for reminding us that we do not need to ask permission to grow wings. Sometimes I feel like wings are the privilege of "someone else" and certainly not for someone as unqualified as me. And yes, my spirit is bursting with stories too and my dream is to finally facilitate their flying out from my heart and into the world.

justjohanna said...

laini, i love your take on wings in general! what a fabulous way of thinking and imagining!

a habit of completion - i definitely don't have that. but i think i need to learn more.

i still think that without an editor, or someone holding me accountable, i will never finish writing.

Caroline said...

ending with a kiss.. that's my idea of romantic!

M said...

I love how you have magic in your writing, we all need more magic in our lives! I can almost picture the line up of stories and books inside your head, waiting to jump out!

BonnieRose said...

thks for pointing me towards your blog.. love it!

M said...

I've never read Dorothy Dunnet's Niccolo series, but I did read all the Lymond ones! (My mom has read the 6 of them at least 10 times or more!) Have you read those- they too are absolutely amazing!! I'll have to check out the Niccolo ones asap!

Ms. Strega said...

Laini, I just wanted to let you know how much I love your "ladies"--one of them is my "guardian angel" in my writing room, and two more (magnets) brighten various filing cabinets. They have been little lights during a journey of writing a challenging and life-changing book (which I am close to finishing).

So, I did write a book--and my suggestion is to all those who want to, DO IT! Don't let any naysayers or grumps tell you there's no market, you'll never get it published, whatever. There will always be a troll under the bridge of your dreams. Just ignore them. Get a copy of The Artist's Way if you don't know how to start; in this book, you start writing and journaling three pages a day, and I find it opens up the magic heart-doors we often keep locked.

Living Part Deux said...

Just reading your posts makes me sprout wings - of course they are invisible, but I believe they are purple and will help me begin to lift my feet off the ground where they plod. Every time I read something you have written I feel engulfed in magic and I love, love, love the feeling.

Colorsonmymind said...

I would love to read both the book you wrote and the one swimming in your head.

I think you are a terrific writer.

I have a few book ideas floating around in my head but I have an insecurity about my writing so I am not sure they will ever make there way onto the pages of a book.

gkgirl said...

this was wonderful...
so many ideas
and smitterings and smatterings...

and the permission to grow wings?
that was priceless...

and the tough love idea...
too true.

thanks for sharing this...
it was great!
:)

Mardougrrl said...

I just want to write like you. There, I said it. :P

Loved this, as always. You rock the Casbah, my friend.

And this? "I would write about the summer house of the ambassador from hell, and the state dinner when the angel got locked in the loo. I would write about the lengths a young girl would go to to save the world, and the frisson of touching one’s soulmate for the first time, and the wicked, wicked things humans do to the earth, and to each other, and the beautiful things, too. And of course, of course, I would write about magic. Always." Is EXACTLY what I would want to read about...forever!

I'm in awe.

Rampian said...

I think you HAVE written quite a bit of that book, if I remember correctly! You're spot on in the midst of your dreams, girl!