Desire overwhelmed me once she had gone. But it was not a desire for Homer. I had to return to the library. I could already smell the books' muskiness and in my mind turned over pages with as many differing textures as a forest; pages that were brittle and fragile which had to be coaxed to turn; pages that were soft and scented, presenting their words as if the were a gift in the palm of a hand, and pages that fell open heavily of their own accord as if weighted by the importance of their message. But more than anything else I was compelled by their mystery, by all the stories they had yet to tell me. 'I have to go to the library, Homer. I have to be with the books.
Beginning a novel is always hard. It feels like going nowhere. I always have to write at least 100 pages that go into the trashcan before it finally begins to work. It's discouraging, but necessary to write those pages. I try to consider them pages -100 to zero of the novel.
At first, all is black and white. Black on white. That's where I'm walking, through pages. These pages. Sometimes it gets so that I have one foot in the pages and the words, and the other in what they speak of.
The world is your exercise book, the pages on which you do your sums. It is not reality, though you may express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write lies, or nonsense, or to tear the pages.
When I open them, most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out between the pages - a special odor of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers. Breathing it in, I glance through a few pages before returning each book to its shelf.