"Within the last year I have discovered I can compose whole paragraphs in my head and find them waiting, intact, next morning."
Our minds are very powerful and capable of doing more than we imagine. In a recent New York Times Book Review essay on the lives of aging writers, Godwin, 73, tells us that she is now able to compose paragraphs in her mind and retain them — something she was unable to do in her youth. She remembers as a young writer hearing Jorge Luis Borges tell his audience at the Iowa Writer's Workshop that blindness taught him to compose his stories in his head. I know of poets who compose poems in their minds and are able to recite them from memory.
Many young writers and artists feel that if they are not successful by the time they turn forty, they have failed. Yet, writing and painting is a learning process. Creativity does not rest with only the young. Some of us don't get our first wind until we are over sixty. I remember reading the story many years ago of a writer who published his first novel in his thirties and his second in his eighties.
While Gail Godwin is best known for her thirteen novels, she has also composed music with Robert Starer and keeps colored pencils at her bedside. On her website Godwin says that she will often draw before she goes to sleep. She says: "I also draw when I am baffled by some aspect of the character. Making a visual image of that character in action almost always reveals something new."