My last post was in January. Since then, my husband and I have moved entirely to Panajachel, Guatemala. For more on our life and routine in our new location, see my Coming Down the Mountain blog. I never post here as often as I do there since people sign up via email to my website, and I don’t want to inundate reader emails with constant updates.
What am I doing in Guatemala? Besides enjoying a complete change of environment, food and culture, I am writing, writing, writing. I have two books in the works and another one planned. This move has been very good for my creative life.
My husband gave me this awesome little book for my birthday. A man sells them on Calle Santander. He makes them by hand, with pages made from banana leaves, dried and pressed. In this little journal goes my ideas for books.
The novel will be first. I finished the rough first draft and am gearing up for revisions. To encourage myself at this stage (because it is when the writing is appallingly bad) I like to read motivational books on writing, and to revisit the inspirational writing quotes I’ve collected through the years.
I currently have two helpful books close at hand: If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland and The Anatomy of a Story by John Truby. Both of them are fabulous, with Ueland’s writing strictly inspirational and Truby’s more “how-to.” I need the different aspects of each book. When I start to falter, I pick up one or the other and get recharged in purpose and focus.
Further inspiration comes from reading about writers I admire. Like this interview with Joyce Carol Oates in The Paris Review.
Today, however, the particular writing quote that speaks to me is one I have on my page of Writerly Quotes:
“Novels are never about what they are about; that is, there is always deeper, or more general, significance. The author may not be aware of this til he is pretty far along with it. A novel’s whole pattern is rarely apparent at the outset of writing, or even at the end; that is when the writer finds out what a novel is about, and the job becomes one of understanding and deepening or sharpening what is already written. That is finding the theme.” –Diane Johnson
That’s where I am in my work. After completing over 40,000 words of absolute crap, I finally know what this book is about. And now I can write.