Saturday, September 30, 2006

Inspiration in the mail

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!

16 comments:

deirdre said...

I love the Jane Yolen quote, "flying into the mist". I adore when that happens, the moment the story takes me into that other place and a voice whispers in my ear. While reading your post I realized how much I miss fantasy, getting lost in the world of make believe. I'm not sure why I stopped reading it - probably an attempt to be more grownup. Bah. I'm fascinated by the planning process of writing. I love planning out other parts of my life (list making), but can't imagine how I'd do the same with a story. But then, I haven't attempted a novel yet. It seems a daunting place to go without a map.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

What a great gift! It's always fascinating & inspirational to learn about the processes of other writers.

liz elayne said...

wow. three a.m. that is impressive (but six is pretty darn impressive too).

what a wondrous gift!

la vie en rose said...

but we wouldn't want you to be edmund dulac or lloyd alexander...the world already has their vision...it's hungry for yours...

b/sistersshoes said...

what a great gift! good to hear about the age thing....that is YEARS of rejection...but the gift of reward for perserverence AND talent!

XxxD

Alexandra S said...

3am? Thats no big deal. For years, as you very well know, I have been getting up at 1am for 23 hours straight, only sleeping from midnight for one hour. Why didn't you mention that??? Just because its not true? In all seriousness, your own writing process is so inspiring from your 6am "daily commute" downstairs with Blackbringer to all your copious note-taking and growing stacks of notebook notes for Silksinger. YOU should be interviewed for the next edition of that book!

Amber said...

That sounds like a great book, even for people who don't write fantasy.

When I saw Wayne Dyer speak for his book, "The Pwer of Intention", he said that he also gets up at 3 am! He said that it is at these quiet times when our spirits are really trying to reach us, when the rest of the world can not yet take our attention away from our deeper voices... As much as I want to hear that voice, I just don't think I could do that! LOL.

:)

Rampian said...

I agree with Alexandra. I think your process would be a fascinating chapter in the next edition of the book. When I was a grad student, I used to STAY up until 3am quite frequently--I'd write and read and send long e-mails to my sweetheart. I liked the lonely, quiet feeling of being up when it seemed like the whole world was sleeping. Of course, GETTING up at 3am is a whole other thing entirely. That's just sadistic.

Kim G. said...

The book sounds wonderful. I'm so curious about how different writers approach the process. Maybe it's a form of procrastination, wanting to read about that rather than just buckle down and write, but in a way it's comforting to know that there's no "one" way to write stories.

Good to hear that Shiloh is doing well with her treatments. A friend of ours just lost her puppy today in a tragic accident. Our pets are such precious gifts and it's so much better to know that when she goes, it will really be her time and you have done all you can to give her a good life while she was in your care. Nepal, Italy, the rest of those lovely destinations will still be there in a few years. You will get there! :)

AnnieElf said...

Hi Laini, Just dropping in to say hello. I've been around but not commenting. But this book intrigues me. That is two in one night. The other one is about Lincoln's cabinet. YES, true! Annie

Left-handed Trees... said...

I am also rising early--have been for about a year now...not quite three am--but, it is enough to clear my head before the kids and work get going. It is enough. I am intrigued by the book, even as one who doesn't write fantasy (per say--Oh my...I'm almost admitting something here I shouldn't yet.) I LOVE reading about how other writers get into it...the nuts and bolts. I think I fall somewhere in between mist and maps...this was a very thought-provoking post!

Shesawriter said...

Hi Lanie,

Stopping in to yell at you. That book cover is beautiful. Takes me back to the good old days when I was a kid and my imagination would take me to places like that cover. :-)

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