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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
34 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 3 I n 2003, when my second novel was pub- lished, I felt like everything in my life and in the larger world was falling apart. My father had died several years earlier after suffering a series of heart attacks. My coun- try, still reeling from the shock of the attacks on September 11, 2001, had been plunged into war. My mother, who already had Alzheimer’s, was diagnosed with cancer, and my husband and I were trying to care for her in our home on a remote island in Desolation Sound, British Columbia. In addition to all this—or because of it—I found myself unable to write. No, that’s not quite right. Let me clarify. I was writing, or trying to write. I sat down at my com- puter every morning. Characters would come to me, suggesting shadowy ideas for plot. Random congruencies began to accrue into themes, and images would resonate. Cautious, but fueled by hope, I would fill pages with scenes. At the end of the day I would shut down my computer with an uneasy sense of satisfaction, which grew into an uneasy sense of excitement as months passed, and the story—a nascent world or, dare I say, novel—grew larger and richer and more complex. And then, invariably, a couple of hundred pages into the project, I would face the screen one morning and find that overnight my beautiful round world had gone flat. Shriveled and limp, it lay on the floor like a deflated balloon, and no amount of huffing and puffing could resur- rect the shimmering bubble of fictional promise. Despairing, I would spend the next few months moving commas around before finally giving up. Confessions of a Zen Novelist PHOTO KRIS KRÜG