I should be writing but–confession time– instead decided to read this article on Donna Tartt in today’s NY Times. It is about a writer, and writing, after all. The article is prompted by the release of her new book, “The Goldfinch,” and touches on her early life.
The Dickensian sweep of “The Goldfinch” has its roots in Ms. Tartt’s childhood in Grenada, Miss., where she began writing and drawing her own books when she was 5 years old. Taking copies of National Geographic, she would cut out pictures of a zebra or a child, and write a story about the picture. “I wrote books in this way, around images,” Ms. Tartt said, something that didn’t occur to her until “The Goldfinch” — a book that surrounds an image of a luminous yellow-tinged bird — was complete.
So it was worth it–for the reminder that we all have the same tools, the same prompts–pictures from magazines, objects. And Donna Tartt didn’t mention them but there are the conversations we overhear, the names that capture us.
Here’s another piece from the interview.
Ms. Tartt is a lifelong keeper of notebooks, and some of the earliest scenes in “The Goldfinch” were taken from notes dated 1993. “I was writing for a while not knowing what I was writing,” she said. “That’s the way it’s been with all my books. Things will come to you and you’re not going to know exactly how they fit in. You have to trust in the way they all fit together, that your subconscious knows what you’re doing.”
Trust, that’s what’s needed, especially at the beginning of a work, when the story seems to show up in bits that are not necessarily connected to each other.
Emboldened with trust–and determination, I am now going back to work.