What would you like to explore?
What is important about this?
What impact will it have on you?
What would you get that you don’t have now?
Tomorrow morning I am meeting with someone who is going to ask me these questions. Right now I have very little idea about how I will answer them and just where the conversation, limited to an hour, is likely to lead.
I just returned from a quite amazing weekend spent in Steamboat Springs, Colorado at the 25th anniversary of Literary Sojurn, a booklovers’ event attended by more than 500 people.
In a single afternoon we were treated to five well-known authors discussing their books, other peoples’ books, why they write, who influences them, and how writing has affected their lives.
So I guess it is not surprising that something I want to explore is related to the world of writing. Also, it is probably related to the imminent self-publication of White Shadow, an historical novel I’ve been working away at for ages.
I think that what I am going to tell my interviewer is that I’d like to explore, well, writing. That could include figuring out a new writing project. Should it be fiction, that does not come naturally to me, or non-fiction, which I feel more confident about tackling? I’d like to write something about women. Probably about women who run—from ordinary recreational runners to those who have dedicated their lives to training, nutrition and technique, in order to become the best they can be.
To respond to the question about why this is important to me has to do with my curiosity about what these runners have gained from running over the years, why they keep doing it as they age, and what are their hopes and dreams for the future. For the older runners: How do they deal with aging? What will replace running when they can’t do it any more? For the younger ones: how will they fit their running into career, family, other interests?
I’d like to think that I’ll be impacted by the stories these women tell. There will be similarities and there will be differences. It will be more important for some than for others. Who knows, I might even discover a nugget of a story that could grow into something longer than a chapter in a book.
What would this exploration give me that I don’t have now? I would hope for more expertise in pursuing research. More patience when it comes to writing, revising, revising again, and caring about small details. There’s nothing like practice. In the course of such a project, I’d hope to become a better writer.
Just in case you are interested, the speakers at the Steamboat Springs Literary Sojourn were:
Eowyn Ivey, new novel, To the Bright Edge of the World.
Nadia Hashimi, new novel, A House Without Windows.
Paulette Jiles, new novel, News of the World.
Robert Owen Butler, new novel, Perfume River.
Amor Towles, new novel, A Gentleman in Moscow