January 25th, 2020 Newsletter

“Genius is 1 Percent Inspiration and 99 Percent Perspiration.”
– Thomas Edison

 Good morning!

I’m writing this as I rush off to the American Library Association’s annual Midwinter Conference, where I’ll be sitting at my publisher’s table this afternoon signing copies of The Ancestor. I’m excited to go to this conference because (first) librarians and libraries may very well be the reason I am a writer and (second) because I want to have the chance to meet some of the many librarians I have met on social media (there is really vibrant community of librarians on Twitter, I’ve discovered).

I follow librarians to get new perspectives about what to read, and to understand what their patrons are reading. Because their patrons are, well, (hopefully) my audience.

I have always loved the library. As a child I felt totally free there. My mom would drop me, my sister and brother off at the library and we would disappear into the rows and rows of books. I would leave with an entire bag full of books – too many to actually read. It was an exhilarating experience, having all of those new worlds to explore, new characters to meet, and new ideas to encounter.

It is hard to imagine where I would be if there hadn’t been a well-funded, safe, friendly library in my hometown. I wouldn’t have had such a rich childhood full of books, that is certain. I like to give back by donating books to my local library. Last year, after I was a jurist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, I donated at least a hundred books to the library.

This week has been a blur. I know I went to Manhattan, because I stopped by Magnolia to get some cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday party. I love Magnolia cupcakes, but their banana cream pie is my favorite. It is insane, it’s so good.

I stopped by to admire this man behind the counter frosting cupcakes. He was so good at it, so expert, that I asked if I could take his picture. Here he is, a cupcake-frosting wizard. I bought a dozen.

It snowed here, and I had a chance to get a photo of my porch blanketed in snow.

I’m beginning to teach a writing workshop this weekend, tomorrow in fact. I’m excited about the chance to talk about writing with people who love to write for the sheer pleasure of it. When I spend time with writers who are not ‘full time’ or ‘professional’ writers, I remember why I started writing in the first place. Writing was a way to reimagine the world, to know what I saw and how I saw it, and a chance to create something from nothing. I’ll never forget what my father said when he held my first book in his hands. He congratulated me and said, “You created something from nothing.” That has been the highest praise I have ever received.

A friend of mine (hi Dennis!) sent me a book last summer about the use of the semi-colon. I know this may sound like the most dreadfully boring read imaginable, but I have to say: it is incredible! For all of you out there who care about the intricacies and nuances of language, this is the book for you.

And, in keeping with the tradition of publishing a photo from a member of this list, I would like to present Marissa Gallerani, who sent this incredible picture of Yayoi Kasuma’s exhibit at the ICA in Boston. I could sit in this room forever.

Thank you for sharing my week with me! If you want to stay in touch, follow me on twitter, Instagram of Facebook (links below). I’m on there way too much.

Yours ,

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