The Divining Wand

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Sarah Pinneo: Why I Write

March 07, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In The Revealing of Sarah Pinneo, Sarah (The Ski House Cookbook) — debut fiction author of Julia’s Child — explained that her greatest fear(s) “will eventually become the basis for a novel.”

Is that the reason Sarah writes? Well, in today’s guest post, the novelist describes working out fears and much more. Enjoy!]

Why I Write

Writing appeals to me because it is the Rumpelstiltskin career: you spin gold from straw. Before I became a full-time writer, I worked on Wall Street, where investment was everything. Capital and money were always necessary to achieve anything.

With writing, everyone starts with the same thing: a blank page. It’s the ultimate meritocracy.

That said, I have a weakness for beautiful notebooks. I love crisp covers and tightly ruled pages, blank with expectation. I love pens which flow smoothly, and I prefer blue ink to black. I’d rather look at pens and paper than at designer shoes.

However, pretty paper is only a distraction. I might as well write on old grocery bags, as the result would probably be equivalent. The blank page is intimidating, but it’s also universal. Every book starts with one, and I don’t expect mine to be any different.

Also, I write because it’s the best way I know to work out problems. I wrote Julia’s Child because I wanted to make sense of all the noisy voices arguing about food and parenting. They surrounded me. By assigning their arguments to characters in my novel, I was able to have fun with a discourse that might, on another day, have caused me anxiety.

When I was a little girl my music teacher father used to direct a high school marching band.
He liked the music, but he didn’t enjoy the fact that he was expected to choreograph the band members marching around on the field at half time. He had a set of pawns that he’d made himself, from balsa wood. He would sit at the kitchen table–one pawn for each band member–and arrange them into formations.

That’s what I do when I’m putting together a story. I don’t literally move pawns around, but it’s effectively the same exercise. My father also used to curse at the pawns. The clearest memory I have of this exercise is how frustrated he became trying to form shapes and have everything come out even.

Novels and marching bands, unlike real life, usually have to come out even. It doesn’t always go well. But I’m so lucky to be able to try.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 8:59 p.m. EST tonight! The winner will be announced here tomorrow.

7 Comments to “Sarah Pinneo: Why I Write”


  1. The draw of notebooks and nice pens is hard to resist! So true, the blank page is the great equalizer for all writers.

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  2. I love the comparison between writing and spinning gold from straw!

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  3. This book sounds really good.

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  4. I think all writers must curse at their pawns, and of course the pawns curse back. Thanks for the one-day draw!

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  5. I have heard sooo many great things about this book! Would love to win a copy 🙂

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  6. Katrin W says:

    A new notebook or nice stationary is something wonderful! I, too, prefere blue ink to black!

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  7. Love everything about this–the straw into gold, your dad and his frustrating pawns, novels and marching bands. Looking forward to reading your book, Sarah! I’ve heard such lovely things about it.

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