Monday, March 25, 2013

Reads for Writers: Writers' Memoirs on Solitude Provide Masterclasses

From Kate's Writing Crate...
As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide Masterclasses for me within their books.
            Masterclasses take place when performance artists or musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don't generally have this option, but I have found some books to be Masterclasses for characters, dialogue, backstories, plots, settings, voice, and/or creativity.
            I don't just love to write, I love to live a writer's life—and read about other writers' lives. We all need solitude to do our work, but how do we find it and where?
One bestselling example is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, as she wrote:
"I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. And since I think best with a pencil in my hand, I started naturally to write…"
Lindbergh transports her readers to a shore they may never have visited, but can picture perfectly. Collecting seashells—Channeled Whelk, Moon Shell, Double-Sunrise—and her thoughts, she shares insights she could not have had so easily at home with her five children and busy social life married to the famous Charles Lindbergh.
Dorothy Gilman also traveled away from her home to write. Sometimes her trips were research for her popular Mrs. Pollifax series with CIA plots based around the world. With her sons in college, along with other reasons, she moved from New Jersey to a small Canadian coastal village.

As she wrote in A New Kind of Country:
"This is about living in a fishing village in Nova Scotia, and it's about living alone, and about being a woman alone…but this is not about myself, not really. It's about discovery. We're collectors, each of us, for all our lives, collecting years, illusions, attitudes, but above all experience, and to me it seemed very simple: I wanted a different type of experience."
From the back cover: And so she began her life again, discovering talents and interests she never realized were hers…and most of all, understanding the untapped part of herself, almost as if it were a new kind of country, to challenge, explore, and love.
How brave to leave everything familiar and live with élan.
Rick Bass, author of Winter: Notes from Montana, and his artist girlfriend, Elizabeth, wanted to find their ideal artist's retreat in the West.
"…a place where Elizabeth could do her painting and where I could write (separate studios, of course, because we both like to work in the morning); a place near running water, a place with trees, a place with privacy…[but] we were so damn poor, defiantly poor, wondrously poor—but not owing anyone anything, and in the best of health—we were looking for a place to rent..."
After scouring several western states, they found caretaking positions in "a wild, magical valley up on the Canadian line over near Idaho. Yaak…wasn't really a town—there was no electricity, no phones, no paved roads—but a handful of people lived there year round."
In a place where the community gathers at the Dirty Shame Saloon, bears and elk roam, and cutting enough wood for the winter without cutting yourself means the difference between life and death, Rick and Elizabeth found not only their artist's retreat, but their home and happiness.

Where do you find solitude?

1 comment:

  1. In reading, in writing, in needlework, in running.

    One of my Mom's very favorite books was "Gift From the Sea." She had a well-thumbed copy that got ruined, I forget how. Late in her life I replaced it, a gesture she cherished. I now have it among my own collection of books, a slender thread connecting us from heaven to earth.