I just received a wonderful surprise in the mail: this book. (Thank you Abigail!!) I immediatley devoured it, hoping to glean the secrets that make books pour forth from famous writers’ fingertips. Well, I knew I wouldn’t find that, but I did find things to get really excited and inspired by, and things to take great comfort in. (I am still laughing at how Verity said: take comfort in hearing someone didn’t publish their first book until they were 35, 50, 80 -- I DO take comfort in stuff like that!!)
One thing I took comfort in was reading about Lloyd Alexander’s process. Some writers plan and outline, and others plunge boldly forward and figure out the story as they go. Jane Yolen refers to the latter approach beautifully as “flying into the mist.” I, sadly, am not a mist-flyer. As I love to look at maps when I travel and see where things are in relation to each other, so too do I plan out my stories and books, and I take silly comfort in knowing Lloyd Alexander is not a mist-flyer either: “Before I begin writing, I plot my stories out in a series of notes. Writing the notes can take months. It’s the only way that I have any sense of security. My synopsis is like a blueprint. If I don’t have one, the garage is going to end up bigger than the house.” Yes. EXACTLY.
I recall feeling the same kind of validation as an illustrator when I read that Edmund Dulac’s process was very similar to my own painstaking perfectionisty process. Of course, that doesn’t make me Edmund Dulac, any more than I am Lloyd Alexander -- and about that Lloyd Alexander? Here’s a little something for everyone who thinks they don’t have time to write: “Because I had a day job, I had to train myself to keep to a regular schedule. I still get up at three in the morning, seven days a week, go to my work room, and work for three or four hours.” HOLY MOLY. Three o’clock?????? And I am so proud of myself for getting up at SIX!
Anyway, thank you THANK YOU Abigail for the book!