Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19, 2015
          Writers of the world, have you been working on your opus without a breakthrough for years?  Take heart. The mathematician Yitang Zhang, after decades of beating his head against a brick wall, intuited the solution to a very nearly impossible problem involving prime numbers while walking around in a friend’s back yard.  The only remotely comparable experience I’ve ever had was back in the summer of 2002 when virtually all of my novel Waiting for Teddy Williams came to me in a minute or two while I was driving very late at night on the New York State Thruway, near Batavia.  In small ways, however, I think we clueless scribblers intuit solutions to problems of character, story, language, and structure all the time.  To return to the field of mathematics – with a very bad pun – go figure.  Still, as I was putting the finishing touches on my own new novel (God’s Kingdom, St. Martin’s Press, Oct. 2015), it occurred to me that when it comes to the sources of creativity, there’s probably more in this world than is dreamt of in anybody’s philosophy.