"Thank God I'm writing fiction! I have a license to make things pretty. Now, this is not to say that my characters in their worlds do not grieve, are not hurt, do not suffer and are immune to tragedy. Far from it! All the guts of life are laid bare in my work—I just happen to think that choosing someone to share your life with is possibly the most daring choice a person can make—and losing that person—equally life altering. Or having a child—this simple human step—to me—is overwhelming and divine and frightening—you see—the real stuff is the daring stuff—to me.
"I won't rest until I get it 'right' or close—that is to say, that I achieve what I'm trying to say in a scene—have I said what it is I'm trying to say to the best of my ability? Have I made the scene crackle and hum—have I served the story? Is it surprising—does it flow into a greater whole? Does something happen in this scene that progresses the story of the novel? This is what the craft of writing is all about—engaging the reader in a story he or she does not want to put down told by characters that they relate to and perhaps want to be!
"I just knew I could do it if I worked at it. This, of course, is the cornerstone of discipline: a belief that the talent is at the core, but it's useless unless it is honed. Discipline is a dirty word in a lot of circles, because it requires sacrifice. But I don't know how else you get where you want to be, unless you give up something that might be fun in order to get there.
"Writing is not a career, it's a calling. I'm compelled to it—have to do it, need to do it. I can't separate what I do from who I am. Writing is not a job that leaves you at 5:00 p.m.—the characters stay with me while I'm awake, the scenes play through when I sleep—it's a constant—even as I'm writing this, part of my brain is off in the midst of a scene that needs rewriting. If I go to a movie—often my mind wanders to whatever I'm working on—and my husband catches me talking to myself—a lot. My dear friend Stewart Wallace and I get together and have a good laugh about being artists—and the irony of calling what we do a 'career.' It's not a 'career,' Stewart always says—there are no guarantees, there's no gold watch at the end, you can not be an artist for profit—because we believe there isn't enough money in the world to pay someone for creating art. So we bob and weave with it—and apply professional principles to what appears to be a career—and attempt the business side outside of the process of making the art—and hope for the best.
"I believe in creating a world that begets the lovely. I am comforted by gorgeous surroundings—soft chairs covered in sumptuous fabrics, a hot mug of coffee, candles lit, books opened—these things take the rough edges off of life—I create peace—beauty (my version of it), ambience—knowing the setting, calm and lovely will create the place where the emotions will follow..."