karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

42 days = 1 book

The subject line is not about my writing, unfortunately, but about that of American-but-Anglophile mystery writer Elizabeth George. If you're not familiar with it already, NPR has a wonderful brief but daily program called The Writer's Almanac, in which Garrison Keillor features writers (poets as well as prose writers) on their birthdays. Today's entry describes how Elizabeth George began writing fiction after she and her husband acquired their first computer. Her first two mystery novels were rejected, albeit with some kind words, but having 42 days of free time, she sat down and wrote the first draft of her first published work, A Great Deliverance.

I always liked Elizabeth George's work (I am not comfortable only using her last name because I know guys named George, and it just sounds wrong). And I find it interesting that someone born and raised in Mountain View, CA can write such authentically English novels (the detective is an Earl) that the BBC has optioned all her books. I suspect if she were British, like P.D. James, she would be dame-ed (as opposed to knighted) by now.

I particularly enjoyed this quote from her, describing her thought processes once the new computer was delivered:

"I was faced with the simplest life question I've ever had to answer. I asked myself whether, on my deathbed, I wanted to sigh and say, 'I could have written a novel' or 'I wrote a novel.' Believe me, the answer was simplicity itself."

What I liked most was, she didn't say "I could have published a novel" but rather "I could have written a novel." I find it interesting that after all her success, she still articulated the challenge as the writing and not the selling.

Although for me, so far the challenge part has been the other way around!

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