It seems that at a certain point in a novelist’s career, he or she is bound to write a book on writing. I don’t know if this is something that occurs to the writer, or if the agent or publisher suggests it, but I find the writers-writing-about-writing genre helpful and inspiring. It’s not the material that grabs me, but rather the insight into how a particular writer approaches the craft. Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True is a particularly encouraging example.
The one thing I most admired about the book was Berg’s frank statement that she believes when you have small children they should come first – not that you should give up your writing when you have kids, but that you should weave it around their schedules rather than shoving them aside. She gives examples of how she wishes she could go back in time and do things differently when her kids were small, and describes how one of her now adult daughters felt about her work, concluding, “Whether it really took too much time away from her is not the issue; she perceived it that way.” I appreciated the way Berg wrote about balancing a passion for writing with living the rest of your life.
The book includes lots of writing exercises, which, to be honest, I did not do. I have several ongoing writing projects right now, and I am determined to finish the Easter dresses, so I didn’t feel the need to devote time to them, but they looked like standard writing exercises of the sort that would be helpful if you find yourself in a creative dry spot, don’t think you can write fiction, or feel like you need some writing practice.
Interestingly enough, Escaping Into the Open ends with a selection of recipes Berg calls “Food for Thought.” Apparently food figures prominently in her books (I haven’t read anything of hers, but I do have one of her books on hold at the library so I’ll let you know what I think in a few weeks). I marked her recipe for Sauce Segretto and am looking forward to giving that a try later this week.
I’d recommend this book if you write, blog, think you might write or blog, or if you’re interested in books on writing craft. If you’re not interested in any of those topics, you still might enjoy the recipes. 🙂