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What to Write?

2010 November 18

    It’s early. I’m wrapped up in the garden room, trying to decide what my next novel will be. It’s a decision not made lightly: characters, setting, and problem will be with follow me around, day and night, for a long time.

    Of course I want to write about the history of Kings Highway in Brooklyn. But there’s a tiny bakery near there that draws me in, too. In back of that bakery are a few tables; a pair of turtles sun themselves on the edge of a small pool. I remember putting my head back to the sun and telling myself I’d write about that place someday. I have pages of notes, dozens of ideas with that tiny bakery at the heart of a story.

    But ah, there’s still Pfaffenhofen in Alsace.

    Jim and I stood there in the square, looking at the fairy tale magic of those aged buildings. It was morning and that bakery was open: people came out with sweet smelling bread.

    And I think about Elise again, Elise who was there in Alsace during the Second World War with her daughter. I’ve blogged about her earlier. She  told me snippets of stories while she showed me how to make a coffee ring. Her small deft fingers worked the dough quickly, lightly; the finished product was perfectly braided. I’ve always wanted to fill out the story using research…and imagination. But how can I write about the war in Alsace unless I know what they managed to eat, how they managed to survive with the little they had?

    Help, someone?

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Hallie permalink
    November 19, 2010

    Dear Mrs. Giff,

    It was such a pleasure to hear you at the reading conference today, and I want to tell you that my 11-year-old daughter is very excited that I got to meet you.

    I would also like you to know that you reminded me immediately of my mother, and, hearing you speak about your preference for books over the company of other children is confirmation of your similarities of spirit. Whenever one of my cousins speaks of my mother, they always recall how “Aunt Bobbie” was such a great babysitter because she always had a story to tell from one of the many books she had read. She would gather them around and share one when she could be drawn out from her book long enough!

    So glad you have had good experiences in Arkansas–we have a truly wonderful state, I think!

  2. Lois permalink
    November 22, 2010

    Thank you for sharing the process you go through in starting a new book – how you think about meaningful places you’ve been, people who have touched your life in some way and the problems they may have had. I like the bakery idea. Think of all the wonderful research you may have to do there. Coffee rings, doughnuts, cakes, pies…….

  3. Wendy Lamb permalink
    December 3, 2010

    Gosh Pat, all these sources have baked treats in common. A truly childlike source! I can’t wait to read a book that comes from such sweet inspiration.
    ever thine, W (on my way home to eat a brownie)

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