If I don’t feel like writing on a certain day, I just go to the cafe and hang around.
When you have that deep kind of hunger that is part longing, what’s better to eat than the best apple pie? Or the best potato salad and guacamole? Or the best deviled eggs and crab cakes and white chocolate raspberry pie?
As for the notion that everything has already been said, maybe it has, but life is like meatloaf: there are so many different ways to present it.
In writing a novel about George Sand, I hoped to present her as the talented, beguiling, complicated and occasionally infuriating woman I think she was, but I hope, too, that readers will enjoy the people she surrounded herself with.
If there were a category in the Olympics for laundry, my mother would have been a gold-medal winner.
As for my ‘real life,’ yes, I do have friends who are different from me, and I find it refreshing being around them.
I can’t decide if I’m a hippie or elegant older woman, a farmer’s wife, a crazy person.
I never meant to write about the experience of losing a good friend to breast cancer when I was going through it. But after it was over, I realized that although something deeply sad had happened, something truly beautiful also had.
Never try to copy other writers, and never try to have a formula. It has to come from your heart and soul.
The friends in my real life do tend to be smart and funny and creative. I am lucky!
Sometimes the best reading comes just by accident. Someone talks about a book, or you’re just wandering the stacks in the library, and you find a book that you love.
My mom used to keep all her Christmas cards in a basket bedecked with red ribbon, and I loved to look at them all and read all the letters.
A ritual or tradition can be as simple as something you do every night, like read a story to a small child, or something you do weekly, such as go out for Chinese food.
Ideas come from life: what happens in mine, what I see happening in others’, mixed with a great deal of imagination. I might see a person in a grocery store and build a whole character and life out of what’s in her basket.
I think conflict is one of the things that makes for a good story.
Traditions are the inventions of people who mean to routinely put love and comfort and meaning into their lives and in the lives of those they live with.
No matter what kind of writing you do, it’s always the details that make the story.
I think titles are extremely important for novels: They can set the tone, tip you off, serve as shorthand for what the essential contents are.
I don’t really like questions about the writing process, because the truth is I don’t know how I write.
Really, my sacred place is my study where there are books that I love and things that people have given me.
I just cannot stand an unmade bed.
I don’t have a medicine cabinet.
Whenever I write a novel, most of the time it starts with barest slip of an idea.
When I write a book, I don’t have an idea of what I’m doing. I just go where it leads.
When I look at my own work, I see love, loss, and loneliness. Part of it might be that I was an army brat. I moved around all the time. There was a sense of nothing being permanent.
I never was a big believer that you can teach writing per se.
When I lived in Boston, I had an office that I rented because I found it wonderful to go away from my house to work: It was so quiet, and I couldn’t go to the refrigerator or do the laundry.
We’re such imperfect beings. I think that’s more often the case than not.
In the most self-protective of ways, I don’t think about the reader when I’m writing – I just think about the story.
I love to listen to people talk, especially when they’re being really honest and they’re not trying to sound any particular way.
I have always believed in helping people whose work I admire.
We’re not just writers; we’re readers probably more than anything else. That’s how you learn how to write and how you learn to appreciate good writing: by reading.
No matter what you write, you need an active imagination.
Writers have a reputation for being distracted. That’s because writers are distracted. They are always tuned into that other voice, the one in their head that rarely turns off.
You need a place to work that works for you, and you need people to understand that when you are writing, you are doing a rarefied type of brain surgery and therefore should not be subject to a million random interruptions.
As a child, I saw my mother prepare for Christmas every year, and it never occurred to me that labor was involved. I thought it was my mother’s joy and privilege to hang tinsel on the tree strand by strand, to make sure that every room in the house had a touch of Christmas, down to the Santa-themed rug and hand towels in the bathroom.
No, I am not my mother. I am deeply, endlessly grateful for what she did and who she was, but I am a different kind of person.
It feels like my books come true. I write these things, and then they kind of end up happening. I wasn’t divorced, for example, when I wrote a book about divorce.
When I lived alone in Chicago, I had a lot of loneliness issues.
I think Chicago is the best city in the country, hands down, but I don’t like the winter there anymore.
Everybody complains about getting older, but I find it such a rich time of life. There are negative things about it, I suppose, but more than that, I’m finding it to be a very positive experience in which growth suggests itself in a much more alluring way than it did when I was young – isn’t that funny?
Every book is its own experience, the writing of it.
If I could say anything to aspiring writers, it’s to keep your own counsel, first and foremost.
The process of writing and creating and answering that very unique call inside yourself has nothing to do with agents and sales and all that stuff.
My favorite splurge is homemade chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream or a Sausage McMuffin with egg or scalloped potatoes or turkey yanked right off the carcass and dipped in gravy or See’s chocolate.
One of the great pleasures in writing ‘The Dream Lover’ was learning about some of the real people who populated George Sand’s life. What a cast of characters! And what a pleasure to recreate them upon the page!
It is a happy day when I am asked to publicly recommend a book. It is also a dilemma. When I consider all the books I have loved and depended upon and profited from, how can I pick just one?
The process is different for every book, but there are similarities. I always draw from the inside out. I don’t plot them ahead of time, and I’m always surprised by things that happen in my books.
It usually takes about a year to write each book. I don’t plan it that way. I don’t set deadlines. If a book wants to take longer, it can.
I tend not to write books that are really, really long, and I’m also a pretty fast writer.