The Art of Fiction

I’m reading “The Art of Fiction” by James Salter, an essay full of treasures, like for example this, on the language of Isaac Babel: It’s like a handful of radium—a brilliance you would never imagine. and then – on writing: Of course, not every word can be the perfect word. Not every room overlooks the river….

The ideal writing life

I am a big fan of Virginia Woolf. In my opinion The Waves is one of the top 3 novels ever written. And I am also, as so many of you, very fascinated by her essays, and regard A Room of One’s Own as obligatory reading. I have, until now, considered Woolf’s advice on the importance…

The sound of the language is where it all begins

It’s Monday, it’s the beginning of a new week in pursuit of the gorgeous sound of language. I’ll be starting my day by reading a few pages in Ursula K. Le Guin’s excellent book Steering the Craft This is how it starts: The sound of the language is where it all begins. The test of a sentence…

Journal of a Solitude

May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude was first published in 1973. She had written memoirs previously, but turned to journal writing in a quest for “a more immediate, less controlled record of life.” Journal of a Solitude: September 15th Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where few leaves have turned yellow,…

how it works

Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart — your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That…

extraordinary books on writing – part two

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life First I listened to Word by Word, then to the audiobook version of Bird by Bird, and today I’m reading Bird by Bird on my iPad. Why? Because I got kind of hooked. Because Anne Lamott writes and talks exceedingly well about writing. Because…

it doesn’t all have to be about Christmas –

I have already told you about my experience with Dani Shapiro’s excellent book on writing called Still Writing (2013). Reading it made me curious about Shapiro’s authorship, so I went on to read Devotion – a memoir (2010). I seldom read memoirs, it’s not that I actively avoid the genre – it’s just that memoirs seldom appeal…

Maggie Nelson on “vernacular scholarship”

Today I will recommend GENEVIEVE HUDSON interview with Maggie Nelson at Bookslut, here is an excerpt:   I need to talk back, or talk with, theorists and philosophers in ordinary language, to dramatize how much their ideas matter to me in my everyday life. I can’t really partake in straightforward academic writing because its language…