Susanne Dunlap

Thankful for the pain

In Books I have read, Random thoughts, The writing life on November 24, 2010 at 10:21 am

I suppose it’s predictable of me to write a Thanksgiving message on my blog. But I woke up this morning feeling really, really thankful, and being a writer, any strong feeling makes me want to commit something to the page.

First, I’m thankful that last night was my first truly good night’s sleep in nine days, and a sign that despite a few lingering symptoms, I’m pretty much over my flu. (That’s one reason I’ve been rather quiet here recently.)

In the Shadow of the Lamp

Coming April, 2011

During these last few weeks, I’ve been going through what I consider some of the more magical parts of the process of having one’s books published: I received the ARCs for In the Shadow of the Lamp (coming out April, 2011); I received and went through the first pass pages of the same. I’ve started thinking about publicity, and book trailers, and ways to get readers excited about this, my third, young adult historical novel.

I received copies of The Musician’s Daughter in Japanese. What a trip! And how humbling to think of my words and stories being read halfway across the world.

I am so very, very fortunate to have found the art and craft of writing, to have had the ability to hone my craft and the determination to keep going despite often crushing disappointments.

I am one of the lucky few who wait for reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly with bated breath—and experience both good and bad reviews from them.

I have the unbelievable good fortune to work with a superb team of highly critical, intelligent professionals, from my agent and his partner, Adam Chromy and Jamie Brenner, to everyone at Bloomsbury Children’s—but especially my editor Melanie Cecka.

The Musician's Daughter in JapaneseAs for my writing friends—there simply are no words adequate to thank them for their support and guidance. Stephanie Cowell. Susan O’Doherty. Masha Hamilton. Caroline Leavitt. And a whole bevy of people on forums, listservs, Facebook and Twitter who understand the pain and pleasure of writing and have given me a feeling of solidarity and shared experience.

I’m also thankful for all the fabulous books I have read in the past year. So many treasures and moving stories. A few of the top ones are Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Lily King’s Father of the Rain, the Hunger Games trilogy, A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book. Caroline Leavitt’s Pictures of You. Masha Hamilton’s 31 Hours. C. W. Gortner’s The Last Queen. And so many more. I should really keep track of them on Goodreads, but I’m afraid I’m too lazy…

But I’m so thankful for the exquisite pain of thinking I could never write anything as good, yet continuing to try despite this belief.

Where would we be without words? Without the ability to form them into thoughts and ideas and feelings and stories? Without the privilege of sharing our painful process and deep, inner agony with those readers out there, who somehow find comfort or pleasure in our books?

So thank you, to whatever higher power or combination of mysterious forces resulted in our ability to do this magical thing called writing fiction.

I hope you enjoy your turkey. Or your manna. Or whatever nourishes you. I’m planning to devour the rest of David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

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  1. Susanne, I love this post. I am thankful you wrote it, to be reminded what a blessing it is to be a writer. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours…

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susanne Dunlap, Marcia Douglas, Christy English, Kamillah, Stephanie Cowell and others. Stephanie Cowell said: http://t.co/Ih1RMhN A terrific post on joys of writing fiction by Suzanne Dunlap! A real Thanksgiving message!#writing, #amwriting, #fiction […]

  3. Ah – at last, someone who’s read or is reading AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book. My M-in-L gave it to me last birthday: beautiful cover, fascinating atmosphere. Too heavy to read in bed! I loved Possession (read it 3 times) and the Biographer’s Tale.

    We don’t have Thanksgiving in Australia, of course, but happy day to you!

  4. AS Byatt is an intellectual writer of the kind whose books are layered: there are numerous literary and historical references, but the reader’s enjoyment is not squashed by them. Neither will those who do not ‘get’ the references be short changed, because the story does not entirely depend on them. A sort of John Fowles way of writing that is also intuitive and arch (in the best sense).

    BTW – your books have arrived and the Christmas holiday promises to be a lovely time for my daughter thanks to you.

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