“With each book I’ve written, there has been a companion piece of music. I listen to the song or composition cycle through on repeat until I’m in a sort of hypnotic state. This keeps me inspired. Sometimes the music is classical. Sometimes it’s not.
In this online exclusive we ask authors to share books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired them in their writing. We see this as a place for writers to turn to for ideas that will help feed their creative process.
“We’re told that sitting is the new smoking. Well, I’m currently in the middle of a new book so I’m burning my way through several packs a day, Hemmingway style.
“I wouldn’t be the first writer to recommend this, I’m sure, but when I am stuck, I step away from my computer and pick up a pen.
“Whenever my writing snarls itself into a tangle, I always take the same approach—I carry that horrible knot to bed and quench the lamp. Then, I wait. In the dark, my drowsy mind probes that tangle, whirling under it and around it, nudging and poking, tugging at any slack.
“Do you have a written work you return to over and over, knowing as you reread it, you’ll return to it again? Is there a poem or essay, an article or story that, for you, is like a psalm?
“When stuck, I pull out a big plastic bin full of paper I have collected, my brain’s own cabinet of curiosities. Every time I read the newspaper or find something of interest on the web, I cut or print it out.
“When my writing stalls, it usually means that there is something that I need to write that I’ve chosen to avoid. I’ll do all the writerly things that one does in the thick of avoidance—read widely within and beyond my topic; indulge in craft books and actually do the exercises; go for walks with
“When I was writing my first novel, Things We Lost to the Water, I was a graduate student in Lake Charles, Louisiana. If a writing session wasn’t going the way I wanted, I went somewhere else.
“My mother recently gave me two plants (Shel and Roald) as a gift. I didn’t particularly want them, as I don’t like tending to things. But here we are. I find them to be at once demanding and frustratingly sensitive.
“I will try to get to the point because I try to be outside always for dusk and it’s time.