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Live the life you haven’t imagined

Saturday, July 24, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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The wonderful Helen Heath published an interview this week with New Zealand’s best loved literary couple, Elizabeth Knox and Fergus Barrowman. Of course, Elizabeth, the author, is loved with less conditions than than Fergus, the publisher. That appears to be the fate of publishers.

I highly recommend that you go over and read the entire interview, which touches on the process of writing, what makes a publisher keep reading a manuscript and who would win in a fight between a zombie and a vampire.

What struck me most about this interview was Helen’s first question, and Elizabeth’s answer.

HH: The wrong stuff – are accidents and mistakes good material?

EK: So, accidents – I don’t know that I recognise them anymore. I’m working with the silent partner of my subconscious and nothing feels wholly accidental or deliberate. I do plan, but the planning is mostly a way of tricking myself into proceeding with the story. It’s like 1) Imagine the story. 2) Write the story you haven’t imagined.

This may be the best description I’ve ever read of my approach to life. “I do plan, but the planning is mostly a way of tricking myself into proceeding with the story.”

If you asked me for my take on everything I’ve ever learned about life, you’d have to go a long way to find a better summary than this: 1) Imagine your life. 2) Live the life you haven’t imagined.

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3 Responses to "Live the life you haven’t imagined"

  1. Meg says:

    Wow, so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. SusanJ says:

    This really IS a wonderful description of the dance/dialogue! I figured out a while ago that life is more like a conversation, and I have to do/say something in order to get the next response back and then respond to it.

    And just like a really good conversation, it never goes where I think, and that’s the joy of it! But I really love the honesty of saying that the plan is just to trick me into taking the next step!

    A teacher of mine used to say “when you want to get somewhere or have something, imagine all the possible ways that it could come to you, and then know that it will be NONE of those.” = >

  3. Kimberley says:

    That is so perfectly how it is!

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