09/15/2010 11:36 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Making of a Novel: There's Always Another Story to Tell

I visited another book club last night -- a group of super savvy women who had read The Threadbare Heart. They happened to gather in a clubhouse (the kind in a planned community, not the kind at a golf resort) just five minutes from my house. I've driven by that clubhouse about a million times, and never thought what lurked behind the gates. Who knew that there were a bunch of avid readers in there?

There was a gorgeous potluck with two of my favorite things -- deviled eggs and roasted vegetables -- and there was a lot of wine and there were a bunch of husbands in attendance. It was a very festive event. And there I was, the guest of honor, feeling sad because I decided to walk away from my book-in-progress in order to write something... what? More commercial, more viable, more suitable for this moment in time.

Well. These women made me feel like a super star. They came up in ones and twos to tell me how much they had loved my story. They asked insightful questions about my characters. They put their hands on my forearm to thank me for capturing the way they have sometimes felt about love and loss and grief. It was lovely.

I gave a talk, after which there were questions and answers. One of the questions was, "What are you working on next?"

"Oh," I said, "Well.... um.... I just decided to set aside a story about a musical family in turmoil. And today I've had about eighteen ideas for other books to write. We'll see what emerges."

"Tell us one of the ideas," someone said.

I laughed at what a preposterous request it was -- and then I did. I told those vegetable-roasting women an idea that I had formed in my head about three hours before.

"Very intriguing," they said.

"We like it," they said.

"When can we read it?" they asked.

I began to think about starting work on it, so that these women could have something to read. We'll see if that happens. But if not that idea, then another.

My old pal Valerie Frankel, who's also a novelist, commented on my "Gut Punched" post from earlier in the week with this note: "There's ALWAYS another story to tell."

It's so true -- and such a blessing, too.