Monday, January 13, 2014

Reads for Writers: The Art of Writing True by Elizabeth Berg

From Kate's Writing Crate…
Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True is novelist Elizabeth Berg's invitation to anyone interested to join her in the writing world. "…I believe many people do want to share, do want to write, and are afraid to try. They need a gentle nudge to get going. It is my mission and my high privilege to try to make this book that nudge. …You feel the call. That's the most important thing. Now answer it as fully as you can. Take the risk to let all that is in you, out. Escape into the open." (page xv)

        Berg makes it easier to take the risk, to escape into the open because she is so open about her writing life, style, routines, successes, and failures. She started writing knowing nothing about the publishing world, only writing true to herself.
        "When you are first starting to write, you don't need to buy a whole lot of things. What you need most is a fierce desire to put things down on paper; and you need a certain sensibility, a way of seeing and feeling. These things cost nothing and, like many things that are free, are worth a lot—worth everything in fact." (page 19)
        Her Chapter 2 Getting Started is a descriptive list of all the useful information you need to begin. It's amusing that the first 16 items all begin with the letter P from Purpose, Plan, and Place to Privacy, Playfulness, and Payoffs, but Berg gives you all the information you need to know as a fellow writer.
        Berg's writing wisdom is found on every page. Here are a few examples:
"I'm sure you've also heard…Write what you know." I would change that to "Write what you love." The knowledge can be learned, the passion can't be…" (page 43)
"Nuance works. Subtlety works. Make the act of someone reading you an interactive process by expecting the reader to bring a level of willingness and acceptance—and imagination—to you. Lure, don't force, readers into a story with you. Remember they want to be lured, they want to lose themselves in your words." (page 47)
"Whenever people ask me where I get my material, I am befuddled…We need only be awake, and curious, and willing to share." (page 104)
"The best thing that can happen to me when I am writing fiction is to lose sight of the fact that I am writing at all. It's as though I enter into a kind of trance. I know I am writing, but I don't think about it. I just let my fingers type—it's as though the feeling comes out directly through them, bypassing the brain altogether. When that happens, I feel completely transported. There is nothing else like this feeling, very little else more important to me. That intimacy I feel between myself and my work is what makes me feel at home on the earth. I am basically a shy person, basically a loner and an outsider; and I have been all my life. But when I achieve the kind of connection I can get through writing, I feel I'm sitting in the lap of God." (page 118)
"I'm interested in helping people I know and people I don't know, too; that's why I wrote this book. I believe the more good writers we have, the happier we readers will be." (page 201)
        Many writers will be happier, too, if they read this book.

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