To meet Lisa See, the author of the number one best seller, DREAMS OF JOY, I missed an art opening of a group show with three of my paintings at LaSelles Stewart Center's Guistina Gallery, in Corvallis. I certainly had a treat as the crowd gathered, I was not surprised that there was standing room only. Finally the gate was opened into the mall promenade.
Lisa talked about her life and writing process which is similar to a fine arts painter. She first thinks about the emotion in relationships. In SHANGHAI GIRLS she wrote about sisters escaping Japanese occupied Shanghai. In JOY'S DREAM a worried mother searched for her daughter in Mao's Communist State. A painter also looks for an emotional hook to draw the viewer into their paintings.
Lisa keeps a notebook of Chinese anachronisms. For example, a mother sets a direction for their child in adulthood and they will do what they want. This becomes the movement in her book. She does research about every aspect of Chinese history. Painters do drawings expressing the energy of an overall impression that they want to achieve in their finished work.
Lisa does extensive research everywhere. She goes and lives where her characters live. She even eats their food. Likewise the painter is immersed in their subjects.
One of the most important comparison between Lisa's writing and that of a painter is discipline. She writes I think it is a 1,000 words a day. Sometimes she writes it in 2 hours . Some days takes 10 hours. Discipline and balance between work and family is what women writers and painters have in common.
I highly recommend all of Lisa See's books including SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN and PEONY IN LOVE.