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The Accidental Novel
(July, 2004)

by Robin Schwarz, author of Night Swimming (Warner Books)

I never actually set out to write a book. I had come back from working and living in Paris and rather than coming straight home to New York, I decided to go to Rockport, Massachusetts, my second home and take three months off. These were the best three months of my life. (Thus far.) It was truly a summer of peeling back the layers of grit, sawdust, the feeling of wool in summer. Everything that ultimately wears us down to a grain, where there was once a rock. I finally felt free. But it didn’t happen right away. It happened in increments like teaspoons filling up a lake. Slowly, imperceptibly but never-the-less, constantly.

Everyday, I began to feel better. It was a summer of collecting beach glass, riding horses and motorcycles down unnamed roads that had tall beach grass glistening along the marshes. It was taking up an ultra light over Plum Island and turning off the engine to hear only what birds hear. It was a summer of staying in an old camp on a lake in Maine where water surrounded three sides of the cabin. It was gathering on Monday nights with good friends. Each one of us would bring a story or a poem or an excerpt from a book, to read aloud in front of the fire. It was a summer of playing guitars and singing and sailing and going for long walks with my boyfriend who showed me where the best blueberry bushes in Dog Town were.
Night Swimming by Robin Schwarz
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It was the summer of my liberation, where one morning in late August, when the house was empty, I began to write. Nothing in particular. Impressions, moments, extraneous thoughts and observations. The point was, the cobwebs had been cleared from my brain and I could at long last see, feel, taste, touch and hear the world again. I had room inside myself to dally and discover. And so I wrote and wrote and wrote.

Before I knew it, I had a book. Not by design but by freeing up enough space within myself to find myself. This was my first book and it was rejected so many times I lost count. The reason generally given was that the readers did not like the main character. This of course had a direct impact on my ego in that I was the main character. How could they not find her charming and candid and sensitive? Well, they didn’t and I must admit mild devastation for a while.

A couple of years later, Night Swimming was born from an idea I had carried around for years. The basic premise of the story is, what do you do if you only were given one year left to live? I had no idea where the book would go when I began writing it. The characters took over and seemed to create their own destiny’s. I felt lucky enough to pen it.

And while these characters are the inventions of my own imagination, they do take on a life of their own. I only hope I could be half as brave as Blossom in my own life. My characters have given me something to aspire to, for they have much to offer and I have learned a great deal from them, as odd as that may seem. I suppose this is one of those times when truth is stranger than fiction. My wish is for readers to enjoy this story of hope and heart as much as I enjoyed breathing life into it.

Copyright © 2004 by Robin Schwarz.

Posted with permission of the publisher.

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