When I was in my early 20's, I heard author Lee Smith share a quote that she felt expressed her motive for being a writer. She said, "I write because I want to live more than one life." I have never forgotten that quote, and have often reflected on it as I've embarked on my dream of becoming a real, live novelist. Writing novels, I am learning, gives you the chance to live vicariously through your characters. Give them a profession and you get to see it through their eyes, feel it through their hands, and live it through their experience. And the research can be quite fun!
In my forthcoming novel, I made my main character a photographer because I am fascinated by them-- by the gift of seeing things the rest of us just pass by. But before I made her a photographer, I thought about making her a number of professions-- a soap maker, a calligrapher, an actress. All of these are professions that fascinate me. The exciting part is, as I keep creating characters, I can eventually get to them all!
In the movie It's Complicated, one of my favorite scenes is when Meryl Streep makes warm chocolate croissants for Steve Martin in her bakery. If I had to pick another profession other than writing it would be baking. I'd love to be capable of making flaky, sweet pastry that fills people up with warm doughy goodness. Instead I can write about a baker who does just that... and I can fill people up with the warmth and sweetness of words, minus the calories. In the meantime, I'll practice my baking skills on my family. They rave over my simple efforts and appreciate my attempts, no matter how humble. I can only hope that my readers will do the same through the years.
The Mailbox, came out in June of 2010 and her next novel, She Makes It Look Easy, comes out in June of 2011. She hopes to write many more novels in the years to come. You can find her at http://www.marybethwhalen.com/.