Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Party in My Mind

"No one is able to enjoy such feast as the one who throws a party in his own mind."--Selma Lagerlöf

A little over 100 years ago, Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. The above quote of hers perfectly describes the reason why I continue to write despite such distractions as a romantic husband, six adventurous children, a busy church life, an adorable puppy, and several absorbing hobbies. The party in my mind keeps pulling me back.
Last night, I spoke to a group of girls ages 8 - 12 about writing. I told them the story of my journey as a writer, and then we spent a fair amount of time discussing story structure, using Toy Story and other kids' movies as illustrations. (These girls were so smart. Among other insights, they could instantly tell me when the "all is lost" moment is in Brave, or when conflict is first incited in Tangled.)
After my presentation, I answered the girls' questions--and they had such good questions. One of them asked me shyly, "Is it hard to write a book?"
"It is," I answered. "It's a lot of work. But it is so fun at the same time." 
Then I asked the group, "You know when you're reading one of your favorite books, and the real world all around you disappears, and you can almost see and hear and feel what's going on in the world of your book?"
They all nodded enthusiastically. (They had all brought their favorite books with them, and were eager to have a book club discussion of their own after I finished.)
"It's like that when you write a book--except better, because you create the world of the book exactly the way you want it. Once I've created my world and my characters and know the basics of what's going to happen to them, it's like I'm watching a movie, and working hard to write down exactly what I see. There is not much that is more fun than that."
The girls seemed impressed, and I encouraged them to create their own worlds and stories and see for themselves what it's like to have parties in their minds. 
Today, I opened up notes for the sequel to one of my books so that I could start outlining it--and I got so excited. I love these characters, and I look forward to spending the next while with them. It's almost like anticipating a reunion of real friends--getting to hang out with them, witnessing their struggles and triumphs. I think probably only writers--and some readers--will understand what I mean. 
Everyone else will just have to trust me: within the confines of my mind, I throw a fantastic party.