Monday, February 28, 2011

How to finish a novel

My amazing friend Lydia has written a wonderful and beautiful post about what it's like to finish a novel you have spent 12 years writing. It's also about literary heroes and writing realities, what it's like to be a mother and a writer, and how it feels to be done with something that you didn't think you could ever let go.
When we reached Paris at the end of our month-long adventure, I was immediately inspired. I sat down and wrote a thousand words the first night. We were, after all, in Paris. I had read the relevant Hemingway. I had read in fact the guidebook that told me exactly where to go to follow the path that Hemingway took when he wheeled Joyce home in a wheelbarrow after a night out drinking. This is what I'd always had in my head -- a trip to Paris, a literary explosion, my hands on fire, my brain turned to molten ideas. My husband, beautifully compliant after a month of climbing Alps on his bicycle and following the Tour de France, agreed to take the children out in the city so I could work. And I did work. I worked with the floor-to-ceiling balcony windows open behind me on an antique table in a mirrored room. I worked with gritty coffee next to me, and then French wine, and then more coffee. I worked fueled by awesome cheese and some sort of internal engine. I worked so much that I was within one scene of the end of the book, and then I stopped.
[Read it]