Sunday, August 22, 2010

Furnishing the Mind

This week I haven't done much work on my novel in progress, but I've been quite busy with what Gurney Norman used to call "furnishing the mind." If you are not familiar with Gurney Norman, he is a Kentucky native and author who has served as one of Kentucky's poet laureates. He was also one of my creative writing professors when I attended the University of Kentucky.

I have never forgotten his lesson on the necessity of furnishing my mind with the materials needed to create a story. Writers must read. Of all the things I have learned about writing, this sticks with me because I find reading broadly essential to the writing process. I can't just read other novels, though I am enjoying Blaize Clement's CAT SITTER ON A HOT TIN ROOF. I can't stick to history, but I have spent several hours with Randolph Hollingsworth's LEXINGTON QUEEN OF THE BLUEGRASS. Along with these, I have thumbed through some reference works and read half a dozen blogs. Today I picked up a copy of a book on American railroads that should prove useful in crafting the chapter I'm currently working on for CONCEALED IN ASH.

No, I haven't made a lot of progress with my novel. What I have done is seed my mind with the kind of detail that will add depth to what I write next. I have also taken the time to listen to the voice of a fellow mystery author making the Florida coast come alive in my mind. It was time well spent.

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