Isabel Inspirits

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“I love what I do and the world is full of stories, so there is always something to write about.”   Isabel Allende

When literary luck comes our way, it’s a gift, isn’t it? I had a lovely dose recently when I had a chance to hear the feisty, prolific novelist Isabel speak. What a career she’s had: 75 million books in print in 27 languages! She’s currently out and about on a tour for her 24th book, A Long Petal of the Sea – at 77, she’s still going strong. Highlights:

On writing:   “What really makes it happen is sitting in front of the computer days, weeks, and months – that’s what does it… Sometimes, the answers just come. The House of Spirits, my first book, was dictated by my grandmother. This story [A Long Petal of the Sea] fell into my lap and it wrote itself…. I fictionalize reality. I take from real life and turn it into fiction.”

On life itself:   “My life has been up and down – tragedy, comedy, drama. My life has been marked by sharp turns that were completely beyond my control… Always displaced, a military coup in Chile, my daughter died, my divorces… The only control I could have was how I reacted.”

On why she writes: “I just love to tell a story — stories about relationships. I don’t have a message or an intention. I don’t want to preach anything… I’m not giving readers anything they don’t already have: what is in the book is already inside the readers… This is where I tap into the collective memory – the things that we humans have done or should have done…. I don’t write with anything in mind. I start with a dark space and a candle to light the space. What my characters do is beyond my control. I don’t know the ending.”

On starting a new book:   “I still have the same fear when I start a new book – that I won’t be able to do it. I don’t have the confidence that I should have from all the book’s I’ve written…. I try to write for many hours. It’s like dancing. If I interrupt, it’s like breaking the rhythm, so I try to write as many hours as possible.”

On hitting roadblocks:   “I get discouraged a lot. I am writing a scene and I don’t like it. I feels flat, artificial… The best advice I eve got was cut, cut, cut. Don’t think that because you have invested a lot of time in a scene, it has to be there.”

On what matters most:“  I feel full of life – I’m younger and happier. I’m grateful. Being surrounded with love and warmth – that’s happiness…. I live without fear…. What I know for sure is that the only thing that really matters is love.”

Bravo, Isabel — write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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2 Responses to Isabel Inspirits

  1. Lisa Rosen says:

    Thanks for this Karin! I had a ticket to hear her but Andy and I ended up sneaking up to Maine for a getaway. I love what Allende said about collective memory.

    See you soon, Lisa

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks so much for your note — so glad you enjoyed this post! Isabel is really a write who follows her intuition — a wonderful reminder for all of us in the creative arts. Hope Maine was lovely
    and not too frosty!

    Create on,

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