I start by looking at the books that are spread out on my desk right now. Our Little Racket by Angelica Baker, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Burning Girl by Claire Messud. No purposeful intention put these books together. One is from a book festival in Morristown, NJ where Baker read, Campbell’s is for a graduate class, and Messud’s I bought at my school’s recent book fair. What these books do have in common is that they are part of my life that seems full of books these days. Exactly how I like it.
And so, I start. Chatting the book. This site will be light. I will chat the book. Whatever book is on my mind for the day.
For today, the book I want to chat is the book that lies in my mind and not on the page. The novel I would like to write. I just saw a recent Stephen Colbert in which he interviewed Jordan Peele who wrote the movie Get Out. The movie’s great success aside, Peele said that this was the movie he wanted to see. It was the best movie he had not seen yet. And this is what I hear from writers all the time. Write the book you haven’t read yet that you would like to read.
Where to start on this planning?
One place: start with the books that are closest to the ones that I most like to be reading. I remember feeling this way when I read Jennifer Egan for the first time. I thought: there’s a writer soul mate. That’s the book I’ve been looking to read. And there’s the book I’d love to write. That book was Look at Me, and one thing I loved about it was how Egan captured sense of place and the way old infrastructure and new infrastructure was not just a banal setting thing but was actually a reflection of how we think and see the world. And her characters were drawn of the political moment. They were timely. She has a terrorist and a model and a brilliant but mentally ill academic, amongst others.
So yeah. I’d like to do that in my novel.