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Monday, February 22, 2016

Gail Godwin — Writing Habits

Our minds are very powerful and capable of doing more than we imagine.  In a New York Times Book Review essay on the lives of aging writers, Gail Godwin told the reporter that she was able as she grew older 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.  Creative power does not rest only with 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 fourteen 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."

(Photo of Gail Godwin by David Hermon.)