Today, I am happy to host author Sarah Pleydell. She’s here to tell us all about her writing process and one of her favorite characters. If you like what she has to say, feel free to follow the links below to connect with her online.
Stay tuned, because another post is coming later all about her latest release, Cologne.
My writing process begins with dreaming and day dreaming, setting lots of time and space aside to create the crucible where ideas spark and catch fire. When there is sufficient combustion, I take off to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC where I sequester myself for three or so hours at a time: brainstorming, revising and refining. When I am deep into project, I try and go there two or three days a week; I have a very specific ritual that I always stick to. I get a lovely breakfast at a French cafe with café au lait and an omelet or fruit crisp, (I order it ahead so I have no excuse not to show up and will lose face if I do!) Then I wend my way into the building, through the security and metal detectors, check my coat and settle myself at my favorite desk under the gorgeous inlaid reading-room dome. I have my own shelf and, even when I am not engaged in a project, I make sure to maintain it. The LC is where my working writer lives and breathes.
When I am writing I listen to the music sung by silence because within it I can discern my own lyrics, hear the stories I must tell and pluck them from the air, as sentient beings almost, as I reach for the right word, the right phrase, the stories waiting to be discovered, to be told.
My favorite character in literature –at the current moment anyway—is Jane Eyre. I love her independence, her spirit and her practicality. I pull up the covers and brace myself with dread and glorious anticipation for that first scene in the Red Room where her wicked Aunt Reid abandons Jane to her nightmares, and then for the Lowood section (the cruel Dickensian boarding school for orphans, paupers and recalcitrant girls where Aunt Reid consigns her niece); it is here Jane loses her best friend and first real soul mate, Helen Burns. It is a real tearjerker, a two-hankie job, every time. Yet in every situation where Jane is tested, Jane prevails so that when she comes to the brink of madness herself, after Mr. Rochester’s first marriage is revealed, the reader feels confident she will transcend this tribulation as she has the others before. What I love about her is that she is both a passionate and moral being who struggles to reconcile the two sides of her self with fastidious integrity. And it’s a great love story. The best!
I have lived in the US for over twenty years and writing the book was a way to reclaim my English childhood in all its beauty and complexity. It was a joy to sit and let the detail of that specific time and place wash over me, ascending or so it felt, from the recesses of deep memory. It was such a pleasure just to be there, even with all the suffering and sadness that was woven into the fabric. I knew some of the events would be challenging but I also knew this environment would support me in the telling of them.