A few weeks ago, I wrote a little piece about silence--a condition I found myself embracing despite its obvious impracticality for the writing life. With the exception of that brief essay, I had not written anything for nearly two months. My novel was (and is) finished, and though I had several ideas to explore in essays, I was choosing not to write them down. Here is what I wrote back in mid-November.
Chances are you're online right now because you're looking for a recipe. Or you're checking directions to the house or apartment or restaurant you're going to tomorrow to eat yourself silly. Admit it: you only made it to Grub's blog today because a) you got the email reminder and clicked out of habit or b) you thought you would bone up on all things publishing so you could better answer those pesky questions from family members around the Thanksgiving fowl, like "How come James Patterson sells so many books but you don't?"
Back when I was sending out query letters to agents and pining for publication, I felt as though I had my nose pressed to the windows of a giant room. On the other side of the glass, writers were engaged in the lively conversation of a cocktail party. Dickens chatted with Helprin, McEwan with Austen, Lorrie Moore with Howard Norman (because I first came across their work at the same time). All I wanted was to be let into that room, the room of books of all kinds speaking to each other over the centuries
In a recent conversation with a friend about books that have made us cry, I realized that most of my book-induced tears had fallen while I was traveling--specifically, while I was either behind the wheel of a car and listening to an audiobook, or in mid-air, reading on a plane. I have been wondering since that talk with my friend whether this travel-crying is particular to me or whether there is something about being in between places that makes a reader more vulnerable to the emotional pull of a story.