A little of Berlin. A lot of YAMO thanks. And the beauty of writing slow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

When I went to Berlin this past summer I had no idea that I would someday soon be writing about this storied, divided, chaotic, rich, surprising city.  I had gone for no other purpose but this:  I had not been gone, in a real way, from my office/home for three years.  I took photographs of what appealed to me, what intrigued me.  I read a little, but not a lot, wandered, consulted maps, got lost, and managed to hike all the way to Little Istanbul on the wrong day, when the outdoor marketplace was closed, a not-so-pleased husband beside me.

These days, between client calls, I reconstruct that journey, ask myself what I really saw, look for spires in the background of photographs.  There, I think.  That is the church.  Here, I think:  The canal that leads to the bridge that overlooks a view that once was barbed and different. 

It all comes back, new and different.  It comes back, not just as form and color, but as a rich and meaningful history, slowly understood.  There are great pleasures in writing a book at a quiet pace, in writing toward the not easily known.  You steep until the material owns you.  You steep, you read, you keep consulting those maps, you watch those films, you listen to those people speaking their foreign tongues until they don't sound so foreign after all.  And then one day you wake up, and you own it.  One day it's not about what you are studying, but what you know.  It takes time.  It is—indisputably—one of my very happiest times.  I have Tamra Tuller of Philomel to thank for the great privilege.  For being there, and for caring, while I work these details through.

To add to my happiness there is this.  Last night I discovered that that pretty spectacular reading/blogging/librarian team—Two Heads Together—cited You Are My Only as the top YA book of the year.  What?  You don't think that made me dance?  Check out all their reads, and the intelligence with which they present their musings, here.

Thank you, Ed and Susan.  (so much)


Mandy said...

I can't wait to see more of your photos from Berlin!

Lilian Nattel said...

That's wonderful! And I know what you mean by it soaking in. At first research overwhelms me, and that it starts clicking, gets solid becomes something I know.

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