Yesterday morning I set out for the Mall in Washington DC, planning to walk the whole thing, end up at the Library of Congress or the Folger Shakespeare Library, and sit there soaking up the booky goodness. But then, just past the White House, I got distracted by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which was intriguing not only because workpeople were laying a new coppery roof but because they had an exhibit running called “Sargent and the Sea.” I happen to love John Singer Sargent. So I went inside and ended up spending the day looking at paintings and writing in the cafe.
Here’s the thing about John Singer Sargent: He did extensive sketches, even full oil paintings at times, in preparation for his larger works. So, you’ll see a whole wall full of small paintings of individuals, and then you look at the next wall, and there’s a large painting containing all the individuals together in a scene. When I first realized this, I thought to myself, gah, how boring and tedious for him — he must have been the most patient man alive. But then I remembered that in my own writing, I’ll write and rewrite the same scene over and over and over again, trying to get it to the right place, and no, it’s not always fun, and yes, sometimes it’s aggravating, but it’s rarely boring. It’s something I want to do, and need to do, and boring doesn’t enter into it. Most of the time I’m writing something that is a path to the final product, rather than the final product itself.
Seeing his process was inspiring. May the gods grant me the patience, the uninterrupted time, and the focus I need to get to the place I’m trying to get to with Bitterblue. If you’re working on something hard, may the gods grant you all those things, too.
Guess whose bed I’m sleeping in tonight? Before you get any funny ideas, it’s my own ^_^. I’m home! And I know I announced recently that all news was going behind my News link, but I hope you’ll excuse me for saying that Fire has hit the New York Times bestseller list for the week ending October 10. Graceling has also popped back on the lists. I wish I could thank everyone individually who helped make this happen. THANK YOU. You make me happy and proud!
(Finally, if you’re interested in interviews, check out the five questions Roger Sutton asked me in this month’s Notes from the Horn Book.)