Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul - chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!
I was standing in the schoolyard waiting for a child when another mother came up to me. Have you found work yet? she asked. Or are you still just writing?
The hardest novel to write was Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.
It seems to me that good novels celebrate the mystery in ordinary life, and summing it all up in psychological terms strips the mystery away.
I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them - without a thought about publication - and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside.
People always call it luck when you've acted more sensibly than they have.
When I'm working on something, I proceed as if no one else will ever read it.
For my own family, I would always choose the makeshift, surrogate family formed by various characters unrelated by blood.
In real life I avoid all parties altogether, but on paper I can mingle with the best of them.
I can never tell ahead of time which book will give me trouble - some balk every step of the way, others seem to write themselves - but certainly the mechanics of writing, finding the time and the psychic space, are easier now that my children are grown.
I don't want to say I hear voices; well, actually I do hear voices, but I don't think it's supernatural. I think it's just that when characters are given enough texture and backbone, then lo and behold, they stand on their own.
I've always thought a hotel ought to offer optional small animals. I mean a cat to sleep on your bed at night, or a dog of some kind to act pleased when you come in. You ever notice how a hotel room feels so lifeless?
None of my own experiences ever finds its way into my work. However, the stages of my life - motherhood, middle age, etc. - often influence my subject matter.
Time, in general, has always been a central obsession of mine - what it does to people, how it can constitute a plot all on its own. So naturally, I am interested in old age.
I remember leaving the hospital - thinking, 'Wait, are they going to let me just walk off with him? I don't know beans about babies! I don't have a license to do this.' We're just amateurs.
I consciously try to end my novels at a point where I won't have to wonder about my characters ever again.
I never think about the actual process of writing. I suppose I have a superstition about examining it too closely.
My family can always tell when I'm well into a novel because the meals get very crummy.
But what I hope for from a book - either one that I write or one that I read - is transparency. I want the story to shine through. I don't want to think of the writer.
I expect that any day now, I will have said all I have to say; I'll have used up all my characters, and then I'll be free to get on with my real life.