I love Sunday mornings with the Ottawa Citizen‘s wonderful book pages.


This morning I very much enjoyed an interview of David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and, newly-out, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Here are the passages I highlighted:

“Sometimes I try to write a scene, sometimes a sentence, and I can’t get to the end of it without half a morning’s research.”

I often fall into what I call “The Black Hole” of research when writing, and Mitchell’s statement makes me feel better about what I sometimes think is a diversion.

“Novelists … require a magpie mind.”

I love this.

I was thinking the other day about a South American author who said, “I’m a writer. Of course I steal.” (If anyone knows the name of this author, I’d love to give him credit.) I am incapable of making things up: I have to find each nugget, each tiny detail. Magpie mind indeed.

On the process of writing, Mitchell said: “It’s making something that isn’t working work. It’s like fixing an engine.”

And so, with that, I’ll head back into the machine shop … .