I have visited many book clubs in the past ten months to talk about Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate and listen to what its readers have to say. Recently I spent time with my two sisters in Sacramento, California, and each of their book clubs invited me to join them for discussions of the novel. The conversations were fascinating and I’m going to devote the next two blogs to them.
Chris Brownfield’s book group asked some of the anticipated questions about certain plot points. One woman was sure that my reference to the “orgasmic groans” of a coffee pot was from an anecdote she told me (no—I had a coffee pot like that, too). For the most part, however, the group was most interested in the process of writing: how did I come up with the idea (long story), do I make an outline (no), do I know how it’s going to end (no, again), how often do I write (five days a week). That much focus on how I write was new to me and really fun to discuss. A couple of women in the group have begun to write stories. One, a classmate of mine from Stockton, is working on a piece of historical fiction.
I have two wise quotes I keep in mind as I write. One is comforting when I’m starting to worry that I don’t know what’s coming next. It’s from E. L. Doctorow: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” The other is less elegant but contains a powerful lesson: “If the story you’re writing is the story you’re writing, you’re in deep shit.” Thank you, Robert McKee. Your Story Seminar helped me more than I can say.
Next week: Elizabeth Mekjavich’s Book Club
P.S. to book clubs in or near Hartford, Boston, or San Francisco Bay Area: If you’d like me to visit your group when they’ve read Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, send me a note and we’ll work out a date.