People often ask me if I have always wanted to write books.
The answer is no: honestly, I never wanted to write books at all.
I have never had a habit of writing for my own enjoyment, although
I have always enjoyed writing. I always felt that such a hobby would
take up too much time.
In May of 2001, I began writing fiction for the first time since
seventh-grade creative writing class, and I only did so because
my husband specifically asked me to. I found that I had been right
about one thing: writing does take a lot of time. It's also
addictive. When I have to stop writing for a few weeks, I am restless
and unhappy. I can't wait to start again.
I didn't read any manuals or how-to books on fiction writing
before I set to work. I just let the process itself teach me. But
I have done a lot of thinking about that process as I have composed
my novels, and I have set some of that thinking down in these pages.
None of it, I am sure, is new, but some of the ideas may be new
to you. Whether you are working through writing problems of your
own or just want to gain a deeper appreciation of the writing craft,
I hope that you enjoy these pages.
Being a writer means realizing,
in a flash of inspiration, exactly what needs to change in Chapter
Three—and then noticing that you have just missed your exit.
Being a writer means stopping in the middle of a great session because
the cat just threw up.
Being a writer means feeling guilty to the characters in your head
because you haven't taken the time yet to write their stories.
Being a writer means chewing gum while you write dialogue because
otherwise your lips will move and people walking by will think you're
Being a writer means working alone, so there is no one around to
tell you how great that last sentence was—but you have no
qualms about doing it yourself.
Being a writer means being in love with something your friends haven't
gotten the chance to meet yet: you want to talk to fans about the
book you're just now writing, and they want to talk about
the book they just read.
Being a writer means crying over the sad parts, even though you
already know it's going to be okay.