Happy Birthday, Mary McGarry Morris, born 10 February 1943
- Writing is hard. It’s the kind of work that’s easy to avoid. There’s no boss to answer to, not even co-workers for encouragement, competition or inspiration. Just you staring at a sheet of paper or a screen. Just you and the painful prospect of blankness.
- There’s always that nagging inner voice demanding to know why you aren’t doing it, getting to the desk, opening the pad, striking the key, writing something. Anything. The first word. And then the next – no matter how awful it seems, but you’re doing it. And after a while the writing comes easier. And, by God, nothing feels better. Nothing makes you happier than being there – in that safe other place, in the story only you can tell about people you want the world to finally know and understand because they need to be set free. And so do you.
- But the starting point for me as writer is always the Story – and in using that word I mean character and plot. Take an interesting character, put him/her through the paces of a difficult or intriguing situation and the Story begins to evolve.
- The hard and most vital part of the process is getting inside the character, discovering who this faceless blur with a name actually is. Why does the pastor get up in the middle of the night and drive his car to the edge of the boat slip and then just sit there? Why are the shades always down in the old woman’s windows?
- What may seem to a reader like intentional symbols and deliberate themes often comes as a surprise, a revelation to the writer. It’s like being caught in a highly detailed, onrushing dream in which one feels not only part of the action, but subject to the dream’s wishes.
Mary McGarry Morris is an American novelist, short story author, and playwright. She has published eight novels, some of which were best-sellers, and numerous short stories. Her novel, A Dangerous Woman, was adapted for a 1993 movie of the same name. Songs in Ordinary Time was selected for Oprah’s Book Club.
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