April 23, 2012

A nice day:  first I check the e-mail and the snail mail.  A little girl, Areyanna, has written me, "You have the goodest books!"  and somebody else, in the UK wants to find one of my books as an audio book, because she and her partner read it to their kids 15 years ago, and want to hear it again.

I am immortal!  --anyhow, as close as it gets.  Meantime, I am old.

It is my good fortune that, as the sculptor Brancusi wrote, "Art is youth without age and life without death."

I started writing kids' books in my late 20s because I was trying to organize an adult novel, and failed.  I thought, "If I wrote for kids, at least it would be short, and I would get done!"

Which goes to show that maybe curiosity and a modest amount of perseverance may be more important to success than high ambition.  High ambition may be scary, a way of creating one's own barriers to success.

But I do have some hopes, some standards:  I would like to write a story someone would want to read twice--or at least don't mind reading twice!  That means a story needs things to think about.

Later in my day, once the pleasures of the mail are over, I get to work (or may not, depending on the day); other writers are a lot more disciplined than I.

I think to write for children one needs an excellent memory of one's own childhood.  Also, anybody who thinks he or she had a happy childhood will probably never succeed.  Sure, I remember happy moments from my childhood--having a pony, on a hot summer's day, riding him into the lake where we had a cottage, the wetness of his coat, the pleasure of his swimming as over him I floated away; picking wild berries along the road.  In winter, skiing alone across the shining snowy windswept fields that seemed to belong to nobody but me.

But I remember the anxieties, too.  The disappointments, the hurts, the fears --and usually those are where good stories come from.  Through other characters and other times, they are a way of kissing the past and making it well.

What do I know now that I didn't at twenty and thirty, that, at age 68, I have to impart in (I hope) some form accessible to much younger minds?  Pains can go much deeper than anything I could have imagined at an earlier age--the death of my husband taught me that.  And then secondly:  all things pass, we ourselves are only temporary, and yet deep within our little lives we can find strengths beyond our wildest dreams.


How to put that into a book?  Well, it's difficult.  It's sunny, so I do believe I will go out for a walk instead.

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