Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life/Ann Patchett: Thoughts on a Helpful Kindle Single
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
It will be fun, I think. I'm just hoping that I can locate my speaking voice between now and 9:15 AM.
When I was all finished that, I decided to download one of the Kindle Singles I had read about yesterday in Dwight Garner's New York Times story. My choice, but of course, was Ann Patchett's Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, though in about five minutes I'll also be downloading Jane Hirshfield's Heart of Haiku.
In any case, there I was, four A.M., as wide-eyed as my puffy eyes would allow, reading Patchett's primer on writing. My verdict: Spend the $2.99. Please. It's memoir, it's advice, it's fantastic stuff on Grace Paley and Elizabeth McCracken. Patchett is realistic. She's not ashamed of the facts. Writing is hard work, she reminds us. And it doesn't get done until you show up to do it.
If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish but because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story, learn from it, pull away, write another story. Think of a sink pipe filled with sticky sentiment: The only way to get clean water is to force a small ocean through the tap. Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama. We must get all of them out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the fresh water underneath.Boy, I needed that.
And on another, final note: That is not my dining-room table (though it is a restaurant where I tend to take my clients). But if I did own that table and if I did have that much light, I'd work right there, writing the bad stories down so that I could finally (it's taking long enough) get to the good ones (they must be somewhere).