Writers on Writing: Thanks, I Needed This

Wow. Just wow. Maybe this won’t be new news to you, but I just found this awesome site:

Writers on Writing  –A complete archive of the Writers on Writing Column from the NY Times.

I decide to read a few of the opening paragraphs. The first link I open is Geraldine Brooks from July 2, 20o1:

My writing desk is a tankard-scoured tavern table that once saw service in an 18th-century inn. When I look up, the waved and bubbled window panes of my study offer a view that has changed very little in the 200 years since the glass was set in place. A small paddock rises gently to an apple orchard, the trees laced with white blossoms. An elderly stallion flicks at flies with a long, supple tail.

At this time of year boughs of unfurling oak leaves hide the black slash of electric wires. And that’s helpful; for every morning, after I turn off the urgent chatter of news radio — its breathless headlines and daunting traffic reports — I make my way up to this little room and attempt to leave my own time behind.

Tell me that’s not a tiny literary treat?

And this one from Jamaica Kincaid, June 7, 1999. It’s hard to stop at just two paragraphs:

How do I write? Why do I write? What do I write? This is what I am writing: I am writing “Mr. Potter.” It begins in this way; this is its first sentence: “Mr. Potter was my father, my father’s name was Mr. Potter.” So much went into that one sentence; much happened before I settled on those 11 words.

Walking up and down in the little room in which I write, sitting down and then getting up out of the chair that is in the little room in which I write, I wanted to go to the bathroom. In the bathroom Mr. Potter vanished from my mind; I examined the tiles on the floor in front of me and found them ugly, worn out.

 I open more, Annie Proulx, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Kurt Vonnegut, and they all have elements of story. Interesting. I was just part of a Twitter chat where the question rose:  Can non-fiction help us make life-long readers? Some responded yes, most responded no. Me? I think yes. Good non-fiction dwells in story. It sucks you in and spins you around and opens your eyes to thoughts, emotions, facts that you’d never considered before the telling. These short texts are evidence of that. And these short texts are about to become mentors in my writing class. Thank you, Literary God, I needed this!

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One thought on “Writers on Writing: Thanks, I Needed This

  1. jamharl March 20, 2013 at 2:20 am Reply

    whoever reads the introduction, will surely be able to see the writer’s place. Very detailed description of the place.


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