Thursday, July 15, 2010
Maggie Berry, also known as Mighty Girl, introduced the Life List concept to Karen Walrond, whose blog introduced it to me. Maggie calls her list the Mighty Life List. I made my list less than a week ago, but already I can tell you, making a life list is mighty.
Yesterday, Teagan stayed with me for several hours, which I love but means working earlier and later to keep up with deadlines and responsibilities. The weather was miserable--high 90s with humidity over 90%. By the end of the day, I was hot and tired and cranky. I had planned to go hear Audrey Niffenegger speak, but when the time came, all I wanted was a glass of wine and my comfy sofa.
I flopped on the sofa, ready to blow off my plans, but my list nagged at me. "If you're going to 100 author readings before you go, you have to get off your butt," she whispered. "It's hot. You're tired. This means you should not live your dreams?" (She's a sarcastic bitch, but I like her, this mighty list whisperer of mine.)
Audrey was a revelation: smart and spunky and...well...a little odd--in the best sort of way. She dyes her hair a shade of red definitely not found in nature and her skin is ghostly pale. She answers questions with her tongue firmly in her cheek. She chose the setting for Her Fearful Symmetry--Highgate Cemetary--because she personally loves the place and wanted to spend time there. She has not seen the movie based on The Time Traveler's Wife because she doesn't want the actors playing her characters to supplant her imaginings of those characters. She can, she says, always decide to see it. She cannot unsee it. So...not never, but not yet.
Niffenegger worked on Her Fearful Symmetry for five years. Five years: two of them before the success of TTTW. This woman believes in her self and her work so strongly that when 30 agents passed on TTTW, she kept going. So strongly that when the character she planned to build HFS around couldn't sustain the story, she invented a whole new cast of characters and a whole new story arc. So strongly that she continued to research and imagine and write for five years until the characters in her head fell silent. That's when the story is finished, she says. When the characters stop appearing on the radio channel in her head, the one set aside for a particular book or story, the book is complete.
Audrey was inspiring and entertaining and fun. I'm glad I went, and without the list whisperer, I might have missed her. So, thanks, Maggie and Karen. And Audrey. I can't wait to see what happens next.