Saturday, October 23, 2010

Write Your Heart Out

Day 257...and Candace has been reading The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, by Joyce Carol Oates, because she is a writer herself, of fiction and poetry, and this is a book that helps you have faith in yourself as a writer.  She wanted me to read it, so I am, and it's such fine clear writing in several short--some very short--essays written for various purposes and published elsewhere, here gathered.

For example, I have already read "To a Young Writer," which begins and ends Write your heart out, because it appears in Letters to a Young Writer, edited by Frederick Busch, and I enjoyed that book.  Loved reading Oates again, because Write your heart out is good advice.  If you've got a heart, and you're a writer, what else are you going to do?

There's some repetition in the book--of childhood stories or locales, of favorite books, like Alice in Wonderland--but that's OK.  It ties things together, and this is a quick read.  I loved "Notes on Failure," because, yes, failure or just "not making it" in the eyes of the current culture or marketplace, so often deepens us, as writers or any kind of artist, and frees us to do what we do in our own way, anyway.

I'm halfway through the book and feel that Joyce Carol Oates is the Barbra Streisand of writing, in versatility, perfect pitch, and pure, clear voice.  Also they share some sensitivity and honesty.  I recall that Barbra Streisand had severe stage fright for a time, preventing her from doing live shows, and the "Notes on Failure" chapter applies here.  Also, these two women share perfectionism, I sense, or intense devotion to their art.

I was reading it between matches and during warm-ups at the Big 12 Junior Varsity tournament today, where other people were reading, too!  A coach was reading a mass market paperback mystery.  Parent spectators were reading hardbacks, library books, trade paperbacks.  One was 1776 by David McCullough.

And one of the players, the one who writes poetry, was reading while lying in a heap with her teammates, resting after eating during the long break.  I'm not sure, but it might have been The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Kim said...

Do you know of any books offering advice to middle-aged writers?

Kathleen said...

Actually, this is a good one for any age. The "write your heart out" message applies to anyone starting out, or taking up writing. The "young" part probably fits the request from Busch that Oates answered, and the impatience of the young. The middle-aged might have more built-in patience...though, also, a different kind of urgency. But I will mull it. Of course Anne Lamott!

Kim said...

That urgency can be helped with the right medication or some kegels.

Kathleen said...

I avoid medication, but I am kegeling right now, in your honor. (God, I hope I don't actually publish this comment.)

ron hardy said...

Jose Saramago, the Nobel novelist just died this summer. He was 87. He didn't get rolling until he was about 50 and wasn't well known until he was 60. His best work came after that. He was probably writing right up until his death. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is another good book on writing. Sorry to break in on your kegeling ladies.

Kathleen said...

I think Kim introduced me to Anne Lamott, not literally, as well as kegeling!

Jose Saramago will be an inspiration to me!

Kim said...

And I first heard of Bird by Bird from Linett Myers who is a writer, too!