Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why I Write About Water

During a recent visit to a wonderful school in New Hampshire, a thoroughly vexed young student raised her hand and stared up at me. “Why,” she asked when called upon, “are you always writing about water?”

In fact, my first novel, The Wages of Genius, was set in an office. The problem with writing a story that takes place in a bland and boring business office is that if you really commit yourself to the world, really build and imagine it and make it real, then you end up feeling like you’re sitting in that space all day. I left my job because I couldn’t stand working in a cubicle farm. Then I hung out in independent, funky cafes listening to jazz and scribbling away, imagining the whole time that I was actually in a cubicle farm.

So maybe I’ve learned something. I love the water, but my family is landlocked for the foreseeable future, so I visit the deep ocean in my imagination. Fish, Dangerous Waters, and the new novel I’m polishing are all set out on the sea, and while working on each one, I felt like I was there, staring out at the ocean through my characters eyes, feeling the waves beneath me.

Thanks for the question, and all the others from the devoted readers and budding writers up at Woodbury and Fisk. And Kevin, don’t forget: Fifteen revisions. No less.

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