I’ve just returned from a week’s vacation. I did not write
nor did I try to write nor did I think about writing. I did get on a horse, I
did complete a 6 mile hike in the red rocks of northern Arizona, I did drink a
bit o’ wine.
and coffee and delighted to see a NY Times magazine article by Sarah Lyall about
the wonderful novelist Kate Atkinson. If you’ve not read it, please do so.
of vacation mode and back into the writing life:
produce these fully formed creatures. It is a bit odd. Other aspects you work
out more—you rework sentences, you rework imagery. But not characters. They’re
not deciding their own fates, clearly, but once you have them, that unconscious
process is at work.”
reworking characters, probably because I do rework characters—I have a lot of
exercises I do with them—and any student who has worked with me has likely been
ordered to do the same. But as I considered it more I thought, yeah—I’m not
changing them so much as finding out more about the character who has sprung to
life, sometimes unbidden.
characters as a means to an end, as if they were pawns in a board game.”
suggests an emotional detachment I never feel when reading her novels; still,
it’s a useful image for a writer, I think. We do manipulate. We move things
around. We play God.
Marsha Qualey is the author of several young adult novels, including Just Like That, Too Big of a Storm, One Night, and Close to a Killer. Her books have appeared on numerous best-of-the-year lists, including ALA Quick Picks, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, IRA Readers' Choice, New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, and School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year.
Marsha retired from the Hamline MFAC faculty in 2017.
She does kind of make it sound like she has no emotional investment in them, doesn't she? I like the Brodie novels better, but maybe that's because the structure/plots are more straightforward.
She does, and I thought that was strange because I remember some emotional power in those early novels, and I can't imagine conjuring that if you're detached from the story you're writing.