[Last May, Laura Dave’s (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America) third novel The First Husband (see presentation/review) was published and described as: “A fresh, funny take on the search for a soulmate.” —People.
It’s also brilliant, witty, and poignant yet the best news about the novel is that today it comes out as a paperback! Both the content and the flow of Laura’s writing are so natural that one might stop occasionally and wonder how does she capture that effortless magic? In today’s guest post, the author describes the simple (and successful) reason for why she writes.]
Can it be that simple? Maybe yes, and maybe no. In thinking about the reasons I write, there are so many answers that immediately came to mind. Writing helps me answer questions, it is my primary way of reaching new understandings, it provides me a sense of joy, and it has (long before I did it professionally) helped me figure out my place in the world.
All of those answers are true. But the most true answer is the first one. I write because I love to read. I have loved to read since I was too young to even know what I was reading. For me, writing is the natural extension of reading. It is the other side of the same conversation about what makes our narratives feel special—the unique ways we experience joy, work through relationships and figure out what we want our lives to be. Writing is another way to experience stories, another way to share them.
While working on my novel The First Husband, I often returned to the notebook I’ve kept since I was in High School—which is really a testament to my love of reading. It is a notebook of quotes and ideas from things I’ve read that touched me. Things that I didn’t want to forget. Ideas that came from a variety of reading sources: favorite novels and biographies and memoirs and plays and poetry collections. Bad magazines and beautiful story collections. All the words that stuck with me, like only music or words can.
In thinking about why I write, I opened it again to look through it. One of my favorite quotes (a very apropos one!) popping out at me immediately.
“Keep in mind that the only person to write for is yourself. Tell the story you most desperately want to read.” – Susan Isaacs
And as I start looking through some of the others—Ernest Hemmingway’s advice on writing (“write one true sentence”); Toni Morrison’s thoughts on love (“He can’t value you more than you value yourself”); W.S. Merwin’s thoughts on dreams (“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.”)—I get that familiar desire to sit down and start telling a new story. Or get back to figuring out an old one.
Reading does that. Which is why, when I’m stuck, when I don’t know how to finish a sentence or a chapter or how to begin one, I’ll throw my books down from the bookshelf and sit on the carpet with ten books and have a little reading party. Just to remind myself that reading and writing is a messy, wonderful business.
And that I write because it is.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.