My Life in 8 Words
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Fall seven times, stand up eight.
Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. I actually once had a dream that I met the novelist Charles Dickens. He was at a signing for his latest book, and nobody came but me. I figured I had him to myself, so I should ask him something useful. I knew that his novels were serialized in magazines, a section at a time. As soon as he finished each section, it would be published – before he finished the novel! I can’t imagine doing this, because when I get to the end of a book I realize all the mistakes I made at the beginning and have to go back and fix them. So in my dream, I asked Dickens how he did it. Did he just start at the beginning and write to the end and hope everything fit when he got there? Did he outline ahead of time? Did he know all along where he was heading? His answer was incredibly helpful. Just incredibly. Unfortunately, I forget what it was. So I’d go back and ask him again, possibly with my iPod voice recorder turned on.
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. I would love to be able to dance a flawless, steamy tango!
Q. What’s your best quality?
A. I mess up so often myself, that I try to be understanding when others do likewise.
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. When I think of perfect happiness, I think of times when I am totally in the moment, completely engaged, not wanting to be or even think about a different time or place. Sometimes this happens when I’m writing, when the words are just flowing; I’m not really thinking, just taking it all down, living in that other world. When I was a kid, this would happen when I went wandering through the woods alone, or maybe playing the piano, or maybe dancing. Another ph occasion: holding my daughter in the rocking chair when she was a baby. She felt warm and heavy against me; her hair was silky; she smelled of milk. I could feel her breathing change as she slipped into a contented sleep. I flat-out knew in the deepest place that you can know things, that there was nothing in the world more important than what I was doing at that moment.