Some call it the Writing Cave, or the Writing Cubby, or the Writing Well. I call it the Writing Bubble, that special place that writers go to do the thing they love the most. After last year's publication of Pieces of Tracy and all the related online activity, I'm switching gears and retreating (somewhat) to the Writing Bubble in order to devote myself to my next book. While I would love to share details, now isn't the time. But I do have a story that's coming along nicely and even a working title. That's all I can say for now. I want to thank everyone for understanding why the entries might be coming a little less frequently. However, I'm still active on social media so please say hello on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when you see me!
Happy New Year! Let's kick off 2014 with some artful speculation.
Here's a Times article about a new traveling show built around forgeries. It seems that these days even fakes have merit, particularly those that have a juicy story to tell.
One author, Jonathon Keats, who has written Forged: Why Fake are the Great Art of Our Age, says, “forgeries are more real than the real artworks they fake,” because, “they genuinely manipulate society rather than merely illustrating alternate points of view.”
Check out the slideshow at the link of the Matisse above and decide for yourself the value (or lack thereof) of these peculiar works.
As the year winds to an end, there are still several sources offering a recap of the year's top books. Some fiction titles that are consistently included are Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, George Saunder's Tenth of December, and Phillip Meyer's The Son.
If you're like me, your stocking is already stuffed but chances are you'll probably make time for at least one or two more books before 2013 runs out, so peruse these lists and start reading! And don't forget that books make an excellent holiday gift.
Yesterday, the New York Times selected its 10 Best Books of 2013, adding fuel to the fire of year-end lists. With only 3 full weeks left in the year, there are several more lists left to come.
Herewith, the latest:
Also, if you voted for the Best Books of 2013 at Goodreads, the results are in!
It seems every media outlet is going to be compiling some sort of year end "Best Of" list in the next few weeks. Below are some of the latest, many featuring a variety of works from established authors as well as new ones. It's been an incredible year for books so narrowing it down to a top few can be intimidating to say the least. In looking at these lists, I see lots of titles that are still on my "to read" list. No matter how fast I read, there's always something a new book to devour as soon as I finish the current one. But who's complaining?
Also, there's time to vote in the final round of Goodreads' Best Books 2013, which puts the vote to those who know best: the readers. Check out the final ballot here.
Last night I attended a special event at the 92nd Street Y here in New York. On tap were two authors who have built impressive bodies of work over the past three decades, Allan Gurganus and Donna Tartt. Considered Southern writers, each has a new book out this season. Gurganus has a collection of three novellas, Local Souls, set in the fictional town of Falls, N.C. which is populated by many eccentric characters. Tartt's latest, The Goldfinch, tells the story of a 13 year-old boy whose mother dies unexpectedly and follows his path to adulthood over a ten year period.
Both authors read from their current books and answered a few questions. Neither author is very prolific, sometimes taking up to a decade in between books. When asked why, they both agreed that their works have greater resonance for taking a longer time to write and that inhabiting characters over a longer period of time helps create richer work. Gurganus compared it to creating sheets with a higher thread count. Tartt said that The Goldfinch took ten years to write and in those ten years, she changed as a person herself and that the authenticity of works that take so long to gestate can't be faked.
As I make advances on my new book, I took this advice to heart. Rich, high-quality works take time to craft. Gurganus said he'd rather leave behind a few endearing works that were written over long period of time than countless "disposable" works that would quickly be forgotten. As Gurganus would say, "Amen, to that, brothers and sisters!"
While Tartt, who is quite media shy, wasn't receptive to photos, Guganus, who's a fellow Sarah Lawrence College grad, was kind enough to pose for a photo with me. Both authors were incredibly gracious and sweet. Thank you both!
I thought I'd share this map from Business Insider. I'm in agreement with a lot of these but maybe not Texas, where I think Lonesome Dove might have an edge over No Country for Old Men. I'd also choose Richard Ford's Bascombe books for New Jersey instead of Drown. What do you think?
Halloween is right around the corner. Here's a fun chart with instructions on selecting the best literary costume that works for you. This year I'm torn between Loki and Jon Snow. Many thanks to Bookish for the chart!
Will Schwalbe has learned that, "reading isn't the opposite of doing . It's the opposite of dying." In his bestselling memoir, The End of Your Life Book Club, Will chronicles the time he spent taking care of his mother during her struggle with cancer. He and his mother explored their mutual love of reading, sharing a variety of books, and forming a special book club that served to bring them closer together during her last days. Below, Will, who's had much success as an editor and journalist, and also as the founder of the popular website cookstr.com, gives us an insight into his work day, offers up advice for unpublished authors, and --what else?--recommends a book or two!
1. What are you reading right now?
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny. Awesome. Glad that your rules say that I can only spend five minutes on these questions because I'm itching to get back to it.
2. You're big on social media and blogging. What impact did these have on the success of The End of Your Life Book Club?
I don't know what effect Twitter and Facebook have had -- but I like being on them and I've met wonderful people in through both. I do think GoodReads had a huge effect. It's a phenomenal community of passionate readers. And I loved writing a series of blog posts for Powell's, one of the great Indie booksellers. I think that helped a lot, too. I've also been delighted to receive (and have answered) hundreds emails from readers.
3. Early bird/night owl, print/type, strict word count/spontaneous: What's your typical writing day like?
I'm an incredibly procrastinator -- so I need to make sure I've scheduled absolutely nothing else to do on any day I've set aside for writing. If I have anything else to do, anything at all, I'll dawdle until the time I have to do it, and then goof off afterward. I like to have 24 uninterrupted hours to do nothing but sleep, eat, and write -- regardless of the clock. I use a laptop. And I try never to focus on word-count. But because I also have a job, I really need to schedule writing days. I put them in my calendar far in advance.
4. Advice for an unpublished author?
Read Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. Not just great advice about writing -- great advice about life. And also read The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice for Writers by Betsy Lerner. Another great book with tremendous advice.
5. What's next for you?
I'm working on a new book (too early to talk about it) and still having a great time with Cookstr.com, the recipe website I founded six years ago.