Inspiration & Perspiration:
Danielle Trussoni’s Newsletter
January 2022 Newsletter
“My New Year’s Eve Toast: to all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories, with which I do battle — may they never give me peace.”
– Patricia Highsmith, New Year’s Eve, 1947
Happy New Year!
Usually these new year newsletters are all about what happened over the past 12 months. But to be honest, the past 12 months feel like 12 years to me. So much has happened in my personal life. So much has happened in my work. And it seems to me that 2022 is going to be even more transformational.
As you may know if you’ve followed this newsletter, I moved from New York to Mexico. It has been in incredible experience, one that has met with a wide range of reactions from friends and acquaintances, everything from: “WHAT?!?! ARE YOU CRAZY??” To “San Miguel is amazing! I’m thinking of moving there, too!”
Moving to San Miguel has given me the chance to learn a new language. One of my new year goals is to make progress in Spanish. Maybe I will even be able to read some of The Ancestor in Spanish? It was such a thrill to see my book translated into Spanish this year. What do you think of the title and cover? Which do you like better?
Christmas in San Miguel was quite different from the snowy ones I’m used to but it was no less festive.
I have a tradition of having Italian panettone on Christmas morning. This year I bought individual ones for everyone. I may live in Mexico, but I’m an Italian girl at heart…
This year, we lost some incredible women writers. I chose the Patricia Highsmith quote above in part because I’ve been thinking of my friend Joan Schenkar, who died in Paris this year. She was the author of one of my favorite biographies, The Talented Miss Highsmith.
Joan and I met in New York City. One night, I was having a drink at the Cornelia Street Cafe with the owner Robin, when I mentioned that I was reading The Talented Miss Highsmith. He smiled and said, “Do I have a surprise for you!” and immediately called Joan, who lived upstairs from the cafe.
She came down and we had a drink together, and became immediate friends. I saw her before she left for Paris in the fall of 2020 and didn’t imagine it would be our last meeting. You can read about Joan’s life here.
In December, we lost both Anne Rice and Joan Didion. Both of these writers were influential to me and my work in wildly different ways. I found Anne Rice’s vampire books in high school. And while I wasn’t in love with her prose, per se, I loved her imagination, and the gothic elements of her novels.
Joan Didion’s style, on the other hand, was an enormous inspiration to me. I read her books obsessively in my twenties.
I recently spoke with Alina, a Romanian author, audiobook narrator, researcher, and reader of my books, about my upcoming novel, the state of the publishing industry, and my advice for writers. You can watch the interview here if you’re in the mood.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I often share interesting articles I come across having to do with books, writing, and publishing. Here are a few highlights from the past month:
Can Distraction Free Devices Change the Way We Write?
Finally, I received some questions from the community about the writing process:
At what stage of a manuscript should I employ a professional editor?
I’m not sure you should employ a professional editor at all. The first question I’d ask you is: what is the goal of hiring an editor? Are you planning to submit the novel to a traditional publishing house? If so, then an agent will help you edit and shape your manuscript. When a traditional publisher accepts your manuscript, you will then work with an in-house editor.
If you are planning to self-publish, however, you may want to hire a developmental editor, who will help push the book to the next level. When you’ve gone as far as you can with the manuscript, and when you feel that it is ‘almost ready,’ you might find that a developmental editor will give you what you need to make that final editorial push. If you’re self-publishing, I would be sure to hire a copy editor to edit your manuscript when you have the final draft ready to go.
What does your daily writing routine look like?
I’m at my desk every day from 8:00 AM until about 3:00 PM. I work intensely on composition and creating new projects in the morning, and then often edit, do things online, and take care of business (banking, bills, etc) for the last hour of the day. I write every day except Sunday, when my 4-year-old gets me all day.
What are your tricks for creating compelling scenes?
This is such an important element of writing, as the scene is what propels one dramatically through a book. I think of each scene as a way of proposing a narrative question, and the end of the scene as a way of answering that question.
So, for example, your character is encountering something new or surprising at the beginning of the scene, and this interaction plays out through dialogue, action, internal monolog, or interaction with another character until the question finds some kind of resolution. If the scene is compelling, it will both answer one question and propose a new one, so that one is interested in moving onto the next scene.
Here are some memorable photos from 2021. Please join me on Instagram to see more.
Thank you for following along this year with my newsletter and on social media. As always, feel free to respond to this email with your questions about reading, writing, or publishing. I wish you all happiness for the upcoming year.