I’ve spent the past few days thinking over what my next post would be about, seizing upon and discarding topic after topic – “too trendy”, “too political”, “too lame” (mostly they’ve been the latter). Surprisingly though, this has been an enjoyable process. Giving myself permission to consider any idea and just “wait for the creative” to come along has been satisfyingly self-indulgent.
Somewhere along the line this week, I picked up J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Cuckoo’s Calling. She wrote it under pseudonym (Robert Galbraith) but her true identity was leaked, resulting in book sales shooting predictably through the roof. Full disclosure: I’m one of those people who bought it after learning that she wrote it. In my defense, I had not previously heard of it, but I think this has something to do with her rationale for shielding her identity in the first place.
Anyhow, I bought it because I love her writing #noshame. Even as an adult, I read and re-read her Harry Potter series, simply to enjoy their sheer delicious, brilliant creativity. It boggles my mind how she was able to craft such a complex, detailed and compelling story over something like twelve years of writing and editing, draft after draft, and under the mounting pressure of the world’s anxious anticipation for the next installment. No wonder she wanted some anonymity when introducing her newest project!
But back to the Cuckoo. This week I realized why I love Ms Rowling, not as a reader but as a wanna-be writer, a writer-in-waiting if you will. When I cracked open the (e-version) of her newest story and sank happily into the first few lines, I heard it. Her voice. No matter that she’s not writing about wizards or curses or even small town elections (yes, I devoured The Casual Vacancy too). Regardless, or perhaps in spite of what she is writing, her voice shines through. Her choice of words, the cadence of her narration or her character’s speech; I can’t describe what it sounds like, but her voice is there in my head like a very old and intimate friend.
I read those first few lines and I heard that voice and I knew what I wanted to write about today. Its something that I think every author probably fantasizes about and it has nothing to do with sales or even popularity. Its the gift of a true and fine storyteller, and that it hit me while anticipating inspiration made waiting for the creative very much well worth it.
(P.S. For three years, all royalties from the sale of The Cuckoo’s Calling go to charity; as if you needed another reason to support a fabulous storyteller, there you have it!)