Thursday, February 2, 2012
I may be writing a novel, but if you were to see my office (though please don't; its disarray could offend you), you would see how it is: the books that surround me are not my own.
Two years ago, I gave a talk about the research that underpins all my work—memoir, fable, fiction, poetry. I was remembering this passage of the talk today. Consoling myself (for I need to be consoled) about the slow, slow, slow of my writerly process.
Whether I’m writing memoir or novels, fables or poems, novels for adults or for young adults, I am, at one point, reaching far beyond myself to bring the greater world in. I am following the always persistent, hardly consistent, rarely well-tiled path of my insatiable curiosity. True, research is often either a surfeit of overwhelm, or a tease. Still, and nevertheless, I don’t believe in bringing presumption to the page—in writing simply and only what I already know. I don’t believe in closing doors before I’ve opened windows. I want to be alive when I am writing—engaged, in suspense, full of the unprotected what ifs? I want to convey my own surprise, dismay, or basic indignity right there, on the page. Formulas don’t cut it for me. Formulas have been done. Research scrambles the math.