Thursday, November 4, 2010

WRITERS [ON WRITING], Collected Essays from The New York Times

Writers [on Writing] contains essays from forty-six contemporary authors reflecting on what impels a writer to write. Some of the essays are hilarious--how could Carl Hiaasen be anything but funny?
Some are deeply serious, as is Elie Wiesel's piece titled, "A Sacred Magic Can Elevate the Secular Storyteller," in which he tells of his struggles in trying to put the Holocaust into words. He says, "I felt incapable and perhaps unworthy of fulfilling my task as survivor and messenger. I had things to say but not the words to say them."
As a writer, I was able to identify with sections of many of the essays. One, by Carolyn Chute entitled, "How Can You Create Fiction When Reality Comes to Call?" had me laughing out loud. Ms. Chute begins the piece with waking up in the morning filled with ideas and ambition to write, then details each interruption in her day. There are many of them. Babies, dogs, husband, UPS man, friends. By the end, it's four in the afternoon and she hasn't written a word. A friend drops by, one of many during the day, and as she tells it:
"'How’s your book coming along?' Pete asks. I laugh."
End of essay.
I read Writers [on Writing] over a couple of months, one essay at a time, so I'd have the opportunity to think about each one. For writers, the messages shared in this book are inspirational in the sense that we recognize our own foibles in other authors, which somehow makes us seem normal.
I'd recommend Writers [on Writing] even to people who have no interest in writing, but love reading. The insights in this volume will enrich the time you spend with books. And for writers--run out a buy a copy. It's a keeper.
If you've read it, please let me know which essays were your favorites.


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