“My Life in Sentences” by Jhumpa Lahiri is the first article in Draft, a new series on the art and craft of writing in The New York Times. Lahiri is one of my favorite authors for both style and content. Her first story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer in 2000. I also loved The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth. She writes exquisitely about writing too:
“But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace.”
Don’t you love her metaphors? Lahiri’s experience with writing, of waking in the night to scribble sentences on scraps of paper and having the story come to her like “pieces of a jigsaw puzzle,” is how I go about writing first drafts too. It was encouraging to find parallels.
I just looked back at my review of Lahiri’s last book and was amused to see that I read those stories in Cornwall. That trip to the West Country was meant to be a vacation from writing, but it inspired me to shift the setting of a novel I was researching in England. I’m revising that manuscript right now.
Lately it’s been a challenge to sit inside writing. As I noted in an earlier post this month, March is usually still winter in Maine. April is mud season, a time of melting snow and thawing mud. True spring, with everything blooming all at once, doesn’t normally kick in until May. Last weekend temperatures soared to the 60’s, and we’re due to hit 80 today! The last patch of icy snow in my woods vanished yesterday. Nothing is blooming yet and the grass is more dun than green, but I’m soaking in this warm sunshine with delight. More seasonal 40 degree temps are due at the end of the week.