Inspiration & Perspiration:
Danielle Trussoni’s Newsletter
January 1st Newsletter
“Genius is 1 Percent Inspiration and 99 Percent Perspiration.”
– Thomas Edison
Happy 2021 from the writing cave!
A new year is has come and with it new intentions, new writing projects, new books to discover, new adventures, and new friends. This past year has been a strange, dark time for many of us. It has made me feel especially grateful for moments of beauty.
There were some moments this year when I wasn’t sure how we’d get through the days. Back in April, it felt like the world was under siege here in New York. That was around the time my novel The Ancestor was published.
We were besieged by the virus and nobody quite knew what was going on. Hospitals were overflowing, morgues were overwhelmed, and information about the virus wasn’t reliable. It was utterly surreal.
This year I spent a lot of time walking alone in the woods near my house. These solitary walks helped me to put some of the difficulties into perspective.
The forest is continually dying and renewing itself. Each day I passed trees that had been utterly uprooted, and also saplings growing nearby. As I walked this year, I tried to take heart in the natural state of displacement and instability. I hoped to find something to look forward to in starting a new cycle, in finding creative ways to rebuild.
The name of this newsletter is “Inspiration and Perspiration.” I chose that title because it seems to me that my creative life swings between these two poles almost daily. There are moments when I’m inspired and see a writing project perfectly, all the of the pieces laid out like a solved puzzle, and then I start working on it and I see the reality of how hard it is to make art match what lives in the imagination. It doesn’t mean we should give up on our ideas, but being prepared for the gap between fantasy and reality is something I am constantly aware of in my work. Some practices that have helped me (and ones I’m still working on) are:
- Write every day. I sit down, if even for a few minutes, every day.
- Set a word count as a goal if you’re writing new material and hit it each day. Sometimes this word count is 250 words. Sometimes it is 2000 words. But I keep a record of it.
- Separate the final product from the process.
This last one is something that I am working on now, and one that is transforming the way I’m thinking about my writing. In the beginning of my career, I thought that I should absolutely embrace all feedback from readers and reviewers. Then, I read my first Publisher’s Weekly review for Falling Through the Earth. It was a bad one, and even though most of the other reviews that followed were stellar, and that book was chosen as one of the New York Times’ Best 10 Books of the Year, this first experience of reading a review taught me an important lesson: the reaction to what I create has nothing to do with the creative process. Or with me.
This is a hard thing to learn, especially in a time when Goodreads and IG reviews are being zapped at you every day. But I am gradually peeling away the idea that everyone’s reaction to my work matters. It doesn’t. What matters is that I’m creating something I believe in, and that some of you (hopefully you!) – fans and people who get what I am doing – enjoy my books.
Speaking of enjoying my books, are you familiar with the pop-up book groups happening through Book The Writer?
It is a wonderful program in which authors drop into your living room and join you for an evening. In normal times, it was an in person gathering held in New York City. Now it is on Zoom, but it is still as intimate and rewarding as ever: you get to spend an evening with a favorite author, ask questions and have a real discussion about writing.
There are some great Book the Writer evenings coming this spring that you should definitely not miss: Bill Buford on April 8th and me on April 19th at 7:30 PM, for example. I would love to see you there and spend an hour with you talking about books! Buy your tickets now, as they sell out fast.
Here’s a link to the Eventbrite page where you can buy a ticket.
In my last letter to you, I may have mentioned that I have been working on a new novel. Well, reader, I have a draft of the novel. It is in need of a few rounds of editing, but I can say that it exists and it is going to be another strange and wild ride. The novel is largely set in a big Victorian house in upstate New York, where a writer has taken a house-sitting job.
Things begin to go wrong almost immediately, and soon she discovers that the house has a strange and secret history, and that she has become a part of it.
I don’t know about you, but being stuck at home so much in 2020 has made me want to travel. Lately, I’ve been inspired by reading books set in other countries. I’m currently rereading Malcom Lowry’s Under the Volcano, partially because I want to slip away into Mexico for awhile.
Do you know of any good books that will transport me to another place?
For those of you who follow my horror column, I’d like to share my favorite horror novels of the year. Here’s a list of my Top Ten:
On that note, I’ll get back to work and will end this by saying thank you for being part of my 2020 and may we have an amazing 2021!