Happy Monday, everyone! Today I have a special Guest Post from Emily Listfield, author of Best Intentions and Waiting to Surface. Best Intentions is sitting on my desk and is high up on my TBR pile, so look for a review here soon.
I am especially pleased by this guest post. I have some friends who are writers and I am always interested in the way that writers approach their craft. That’s one of the reasons I love going to book signings – I love to hear authors talk about their work. Emily Listfield was kind of enough to tell me a little about her creative process for Best Intentions, and I am really happy to be sharing that with you:
When I started writing Best Intentions I pinned an index card above my desk with four words written on it: Social Observation, Suspense, Fast, Fun. I had just finished writing a pretty intense novel, Waiting to Surface, based on my husband’s disappearance and death – and I knew that I wanted to do something totally different. Those four words served as a reminder of the tone and feel I was aiming for this time. A few months after I started writing Best Intentions, I was having drinks with my (then) boyfriend. I was attempting to put into words what the novel was about: How it’s easy to assume you know what someone you love is thinking, but without real communication you may be totally wrong – with deadly results. He asked if I knew this quote: The worst, most corrupting lies are problems poorly stated. I hadn’t heard it before, but that one line helped to crystallize my theme. I had him write it down immediately so I wouldn’t forget it. When I got home, I pinned it up next to the index card. That quote became the epigraph for the book. (He couldn’t remember where it was from. I found out that it was by George Bernanos by Googling it.) Anyway, those two scraps of paper where the first thing I saw when I went to my desk every morning to write –bookends about tone and theme.
I’m a morning writer. I get too distracted (and burned out) later on, especially when I’m writing a first draft. (I find re-writing easier and can go longer stretches of time.) If I’m working at home, I often like to write for at least a little while before I’ve even showered (after I’ve gotten my daughter off to school.) My head is less filled with ephemera, emails, etc. If I’m feeling stuck, I take a legal pad and pen and sit in another room, or a coffee shop. It’s somehow more immediate and can help break the logjam. Many days, I go to a place called the Writers Room in NYC – a kind of co-op that’s open 24/7. Because you can’t use phones or talk in the main room, a few hours there is like dog years. You get a lot done when you’re not wandering to the kitchen, checking out the news, fiddling around.
It took about a year and half to write Best Intentions. The day I finished, I took the two notes down from my bulletin board. They had done their job.