Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tova Mirvis, author of the sublime The Visible World, writes about what happens if you never finish a piece of writing

I devoured Tova Mirvis' Visible City. About three different families in New York City whose lives intersect, the book delves into how the busiest city can also be the loneliest and how connections can break or bond. I'm thrilled that Tova offered to write something for my blog. And so honored to host her here. Thank you Tova!

What if you never finished? What if this was the piece of writing in which you would find no way to the end, in which you stared dumbfounded, forever, at characters you’d created but were now as impenetrable as strangers? What if you wandered in a world which you’d built but didn’t know how to navigate? What if you’d created a nightmarish maze in which there was no way out for the characters, no way further in for you – what if you remained in that half-made stage, where your characters were blow up dolls only partially filled with air, and now sagging, wilting, waiting for some more blast of breath which you couldn’t summon? What if your novel was bewitched, now a castle where everyone was immobilized for a century, a walled prison whose ramparts were sealed shut?
 And what if you had no choice but to accept that there is no potion to unlock this world, nothing but time and work. The minutes put in that somehow combine to make years. Each day, a small step deeper inside. Each month, a small accumulation of words. Amid the frustration, there is as well the reverence and awe for those rare moments when words gleam, when sentences seem bejeweled. When the ideas seem to exist not in your hand but in your fingers, as though they are a team of fleet footed travelers who suddenly know the way to go.

 And this is why you stay. Stay, in pursuit of that opening – a hole in the wall, a forest whose overgrowth is effortlessly slashed, a magical portal through time. Stay, for the moments when the novel unlocks itself, allowing you inside once again, to a world both familiar and strange, a world where you are both deferent visitor and all-powerful creator.

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