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September 20, 2011 -- I'm sitting on the sun-washed terrace of La Terrasse restaurant in San Francisco's gorgeous green Presidio. It's a spectacular Indian summer day, with the rays warming my bones and the bay sparkling in the distance under a cerulean sky. All around me, California Mission-style buildings – pale yellow walls, curving arches, terra-cotta roof tiles – shine.
It's fascinating to me how the rhythms of a place can infiltrate us and change the way we create, even how we move through the world. This phenomenon has certainly been true in my own life. In the hard Grecian sunlight, I'm more decisive and my writing is brighter. More vivid. More clearly etched. In France, my sentences are more languorous, more nuanced, more apt to while an hour or two away over a café crème, watching the perfumed passersby from a windowside seat at a café by the Seine. In Hawaii, I surrender myself to sun, sand, and sea. In Japan, I'm attuned to intricacies, shadows, the larger meanings of little things.
"I started writing longer lines and lines didn't any more want to be cut at where the line break goes in a poem. I started keeping notebooks and it just started expanding, and I found myself writing prose. I never intended to and I think that it's just mysterious that sometimes the rhythms in your brain change and your genre follows after that. It wasn't a conscious choice, but I did start writing prose because I was writing out of excitement at living there and leaning a new language, meeting people. It was very spontaneous and in fact all of my books about Italy have been written out of just spontaneity and fun."
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