My favorite part of writing OUT OF THE DUST was feeling Billie Jo quicken and come to life in my imagination.
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I think Aunt Lucy had her doubts that her life was interesting enough, or that I would do a good job telling her story, or that I would tell the right story. When I sent her a copy of the finished book I wasn’t certain what she’d say. My aunt was a smart and astute critic. To my delight she approved of Letters From Rifka and felt a quiet pride at being the inspiration for it. How sweet her approval tasted to me. Her children and grandchildren were also tickled to have their mom’s life recorded, honored, and celebrated in such a way.
No, I’m sad to say my Aunt Lucy died in December of 2009 at the age of 97. In her obituary she was credited with being the inspiration for the character of Rifka. She was an exceptional woman, sorely missed not only by her family and friends but by readers of the book who have come to know and care for her and her fictionalized story.
As a reader, I find certain books linger with me for months, for years, and occasionally for decades. Books have kept me afloat when I wondered how much longer I could hold on. They have taught me about decency and integrity. Books have shown me how survival is possible even when the odds suggest otherwise. Books have also taught me the elegance and beauty and power of language, not just for the message it contains but for the simple way it rolls off the tongue, the way it delights and excites every sense. Do I expect to have the same impact on my readers that certain writers have had on me? No. But I am grateful for every reader and for each opportunity to communicate and to share. If the reader feels less alone as he or she spends time inside one of my books, that’s enough for me.
With any luck, sooner or later, we all discover something we simply love to do. The more we do it the better we get at it.
When you’re passionate about doing something it’s really not a matter of patience at all.
I’m really tired at the end of the day but it’s the best kind of tired I can imagine.
I wish for you the good fortune of finding the thing you love to do and the ability to pursue it with your heart, your mind, and your spirit.
Yes, yes, yes. I had many jobs before I became a full time author. I’ve worked as a nanny, a waitress, a librarian, a bookkeeper, a substitute teacher, an advertising secretary, a typesetter, and a proofreader. I was very good at some of these jobs and absolutely dreadful at others. I’m glad this writing thing worked out in the end.
I think about that often. In fact at one point I considered writing a book in which a selection of characters from some of my favorite novels (written by other authors) live in a high rise apartment house called Century Towers. These characters begin to fade over time and when the day comes when no one reads their books they vanish completely; their apartments left silent and empty.
As for my own characters, I don’t wonder at all about them after I’ve completed the book. Funny, isn’t it?
Several times I have spent years researching, writing, and revising a book only to decide it was not worthy of publication. Sometimes, after spending months immersed in a time period or a set of characters, I find I’m not engaged enough. If I’m not compelled by the setting and story, I can’t possibly expect you to be. Honestly, a good part of the joy for me is in the writing process itself. Of course I love when a book is published. But I am not the least bit angry when a book I’ve dedicated my time and spirit to never sees print. It is enough for me to have taken the journey. There is not simply one reward for hard work. Rewards are complex and surprising in their manifestations.
I’m smiling, remembering many trips to amusement parks over the years. As a child I was taken as a special treat to Gwynn Oaks Amusement Park in Baltimore, Maryland. As an adult I took my own daughters to Disney. I drew on the enchantment of those experiences as I wrote BROOKLYN BRIDGE. Though I never visited Luna Park, I remember well the wonder of such places.