Meeting with authors I admire is like a big-old jolt of inspiration, and I got a Venti Double Shot of it last Saturday when Laura Lippman came to Gainesville!
I was introduced to her fiction several decades ago when my sister gave me a copy of Baltimore Blues as a Christmas present. Since then, I've looked forward to every new Laura Lippman novel and consider her one of the premier crime novelists working today. As creator of the Tess Monaghan series along with several stand-alone novels, her books are expertly plotted--with more twists and turns than the wild Ocklawaha River--but it is the authentic and superbly-drawn characters that keep me coming back for more.
From her smart novels, I already knew Laura was a smart woman, but in finally meeting her, I found her to be kind and gracious as well, with an almost working-class approach to her writing that I can relate to.
Simply put, writing is her job and she does it well.
Although Laura was there to talk about her latest novel Sunburn, she admitted that everything past the first two chapters contained spoilers, so the discussion was wide-ranging. One thing she shared about her own writing really struck home.
When Laura first set out to write, she made a conscious decision to cast herself as a genre writer, partly because the idea of writing the great American novel was a bit beyond her. I think it was a way to take some of the pressure that goes along with the craft.
I experienced something similar when I decided to try my hand at writing fiction. As a former English teacher, I loved Fitzgerald and Shakespeare and Faulkner, but I was no Faulkner. Heck, I wasn't even Sidney Sheldon, though I wouldn't have minded having his sales. But I might be able to write a mystery. But I'd read enough mysteries to fill a library. Maybe--just maybe--I could write one.
Sometimes we women are often way too hard on ourselves. We demand perfection of ourselves, yet
I think that learning the craft of writing is sort of like climbing a giant ladder, the top of which is hidden in the clouds. Rather than worry about what's beyond your reach, it's best to concentrate on getting onto the next rung.
And who knows? Maybe someday, you'll reach the clouds.