, , , , ,

“The books are getting harder, to my great dismay … and I’m thinking I do not want to write if the juice is gone. I’ve seen writers who go on when they should have been put out to pasture. So, when I start a new book and I’m dismayed and distressed and can’t find the story line, I’m always thinking, “Uh-oh—maybe the juice is gone, and that’s why this is so hard.”

I recently met Sue Grafton at a cocktail party for volunteers and faculty at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. I didn’t realize who I was talking to until someone called out her name. I nearly fell out of my chair. I have a good excuse for not knowing who she is, and no it’s not that I’ve been living under a rock, but I’m not a huge mystery novel reader.  We chatted for a half hour about travel, writing and Southern accents before I realized who she was. She was the nicest, most down-to-earth person at the party.

In case you don’t know who Sue Grafton is, she’s the author of the Kinsey Milhone Alphabet mystery series. Grafton’s getting close to Z but as the quote above conveys, the books aren’t getting any easier to write. Writing, even for someone who clearly knows her characters and has found a genre that fits her writing style, can still be a challenge. It’s tough to continue to create compelling stories with characters readers want to follow, but writers like Sue Grafton keep writing, of course, until the juice runs out. Let’s hope that’s not until the end of the alphabet.

–excerpt from the Writer’s Digest online April 6, 2010

– Erin Dougherty