A few times a week if the weather is fine, I pull on my running shoes and lope around a track near my house for a few laps, just to get the creative juices flowing. I always walk to the track from one direction and then take another route back. When homeward bound, I pass a favorite house of mine: a comely Victorian painted buttercup yellow and white, with a light blue door and shutters – a lovely, cheerful combination!
One day, as I made my way home, I had a surprise: Firmly planted on a pole near the sidewalk in front of the house I take such pleasure in passing was a cozy little wooden cottage – an exact replica! Like its stately companion, it was yellow, white, and had a blue door and shutters. Only, this little house was a little bookstall! A pleasing row of books nestled inside, waiting to be read. Adorable!
Of course, I opened the little door and peeked inside. And miracle of miracles, one of the books in this enchanted cottage was Warlight, a novel that my fabulous sister Stephanie and I had just been discussing. Over tea, she had analyzed the structure for me, which she loves to do as an editor. And, as I was admiring her insights, I kept thinking, I really should get this novel and read it myself. And now, as if from the sky, a fresh new copy had dropped into my hands.
What a surge of delight I felt when I saw a book I was longing to read! It reminded me of going to my local library as a kid and scooping up treasures from its shelves. This library branch in Upper Manhattan where I grew up was small and a bit battered, but to me it was a palace of books – a place where I could lose and find myself at the same time.
So many of us come to writing through reading – through the joy writers gave us when we were young. Giving our own readers that surge of anticipation – this is one of the goals many of us strive for. And what a gift it is! In a world where we are all bombarded with visual, prepackaged images, it seems more important than ever to let people create their own using their imaginations, whether via the pages of a book, on a screen, or through listening. Write on!
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