Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life/Ann Patchett: Thoughts on a Helpful Kindle Single

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sleep did not befriend me last night (come on, I thought, what did I do to you?), but I made good use of time of the dark and restless time.  First, I prepared a series of reading/writing exercises for my visit to Villa Maria Academy today in honor of World Read Aloud Day.  We'll read Helme Heine's magical THE MARVELOUS JOURNEY THROUGH THE NIGHT as adults, for example, and then define our idea of paradise.  We'll dwell with the simple words of William Carlos Williams.  We'll write from different points of view and ask ourselves what makes for a first-chapter cliffhanger.

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.

A sliver:
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).


Sarah Laurence said...

I just read that article this morning. I'll download Ann Patchett's single. She's one of my favorite authors.

Gerri George said...

This looks good, Beth. I keep saying I must control my Kindle purchases, but I'll take your advice and buy the Patchett!

Melissa Sarno said...

I did download it and I read half on the subway ride this morning. Thanks for the suggestion :)

cynthia said...

Downloaded! Thanks for posting, Beth.
And hi to Sarah: )

Serena said...

Jane Hirshfield's Heart of Haiku appeals to me. I like that as a recommendation. Patchett's writing is something I have a love-hate relationship with, though I haven't read any memoir from her.

Btw, love that table too...the length, the texture, the light...all excellent.

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