Monday, December 3, 2012

Reads for Writers: The Writer's Home Companion edited by Joan Bolker, Ed. D.

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          There are authors we recognize as kindred spirits. We have all their books on our shelves, piled on tables, chairs, even the floor, or on our E-readers. We buy their latest books sight unseen, reviews unread. They just belong to us.

          On Charlie Rose, author Nicole Krauss described other authors as either "of, or not of, her tribe." In The Writer's Home Companion, Ruth Whitman describes kindred authors as "the company she wants to keep".
          As a writer, there are many writing books I consider the company I want to keep including The Writer's Home Companion edited by Joan Bolker, Ed. D. This book is a gem, a compilation of almost thirty writers sharing their thoughts and experiences about their profession which will appeal to many other writers.

          The book has two parts:

                     Part I: The Writing Process


                    Part II: Becoming a Writer


          Three to eight writers address each topic. While I found each writer had something of interest to say, several essays seemed to be written just for me. I'm sure others will find some are written just for them.

           In the Preparation section, Donald M. Murray shares, "Write what you need to write, feed the hunger for meaning in your life. Play at the serious questions of life and death. Cultivate the silence when writing speaks...If you let the writing---or the line or tune or dance---flow, you will be carried where you never expected to go..."

          In the Beginning section, Patricia Cumming, a published poet, lists over 200 writing prompts and creative activities she invented to get any writer started. Also, B. F. Skinner shares that Stendhal once remarked, "If when I was young I had been willing to talk about wanting to be a writer, some sensible person might have said to me: 'Write for two hours every day, genius or not.' That would have saved ten years of my life, stupidly wasted in waiting to become a genius."

          In the Poetry section, which I almost skipped as I am not a poet, Rita Dove writes: "How restless and curious the human mind is, how quick the imagination latches onto a picture, scene, something volatile and querulous and filled with living, mutable tissue!...Every discipline craves imagination, and you owe it to yourself to keep yours alive."

          A reprint of Helen Benedict's essay "A Writer's First Readers" in the Audience section quotes other authors. Cynthia Ozick states, "There's nobody, really, to trust outside the critic within you."...Yet making the choice to rely only on an inner critic takes tremendous faith. John Irving believes that having it is the mark of a mature writer.

          In the Practice section, Joan Bolker writes: "But I began to see that if I was going to be a real writer then writing had to become, with very few exceptions, the most important thing in my life."

          Writers of every genre have knowledge to share. Don't limit your horizons. Read. Learn from as many authors as possible--and keep writing!

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