Here’s a photo of me of the roof of the Palais Garnier,
the opera house which houses the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet. As a birthday gift two years ago, my friend treated me to a private four-hour tour that ran from the basement to the rooftop. If you ever get the chance to visit this place, go. Few places in the world have this amount of beauty, history, and emotional significance.
It was such a pleasure to find use of this magnificent setting in my next book, After Him. It’s such a short scene, but one that I can’t wait to share with you.
What settings do you love, and want to see used in a book? I’m keeping a list, and you will get full acknowledgement from me when I use your suggestion.
If you’ve read my novels, you already know that I love a tough heroine. This is a love I can trace all the way back to my earliest experiences in my mom’s bookstore. Encountering Ramona Quimby was definitely a formative experience, and Ramona the Pest remains one of my all-time favorite books.
On the occasion of Beverly Cleary’s 101st, I’m reflecting on everything I’ve learned from her. As a child, I appreciated how much she understood—and respected—the thoughts and feelings of kids. As a writer, I recognize her ability to craft characters who are absolutely and indomitably themselves.
Happy Birthday, Ms. Cleary. And many happy returns of the day!
“It was a very dreary wasted period of my life. I had given up all ambition, lived from hand to mouth, and thought the evil of each day sufficient.” – George Henry Lewes
For a long time, I did not write. Once I started writing, I didn’t share my work with anyone. If we think of adult life as starting around twenty-two or so, I didn’t write seriously for about a decade after that. It took about another decade for me to show anyone my writing.
What a stupid waste of time. I was such a mess.
And yet, I was not a mess. I built businesses, traveled the world, and had spectacular love affairs in all that non-writing-non-showing time.
I devoted myself to service through my church. I ate some amazing things, as pictures on my phone remind me. I raised children. I built a community of friends that sustains my soul even today. I served as
a mentor to so many young women just getting started in their own careers. By most measures, I was a success.
But I was not a success by my own standards. To the little girl inside of me, who decided to be an author in the third grade, I was a washed-up failure. Anyone on the outside would have called me a risk-taker, but my own soul knew different. My own soul knew that I was cropping out my greatest ambition and dream from the picture of my life.
And then something happened, which I still can’t understand, that allowed me to show my work to the world.
I don’t make the same money as I once did now. I also have to work a lot harder, go to bed earlier, and miss a lot of fun. I have to grind while others brunch. And when the writing is done, I have to do all the other stuff like exercise and help with homework and fold laundry.
But this new life is far better. The evil of each day is not sufficient.
Creating more challenge and fun for myself by building new stories, and finding new ways to share them with you, nourishes me. Thank you for that, by the way. (You realize I can’t do any of this without you?)
What are you cropping out of your picture? What did you want to be in the third grade? Is that little person proud of the you she sees in the mirror?