Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within/Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Here, on this day, I stop to celebrate Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, who is the voice behind "Writers on Writing," one of the best radio shows on and about writing in this country; who is so beautiful outside that she once floated down runways; and who is even more beautiful within. I've had the privilege of spending time with Barbara as she has asked the penetrating questions. I've read some of her essays, taken note of her work as a teacher, had private email conversations that made my writerly days.

And this morning I sat here and read for the first time, cover to cover, Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within. This book has gone into printing after printing since it was first released, and I understand why. It's chock-full of wisdom. It offers one helpful prompt or exercise or guiding thought after another. It's has a most companionable voice. And it is full of the insights of the writers Barbara has gotten to know through the years. Really fine insights, all beautifully tapestried together. Some of the voices belong to my friends—Susan Straight, for example, and Dani Shapiro. Some are my heroes/heroines: Alice McDermott, Gerald Stern, Aimee Bender, Ron Carlson. And some of them—or, one of them—is me.

Oh my gosh, I thought, when I stumbled upon something I must have said years ago. Oh my gosh, you sweet surprising gift of a woman, Barbara D-M.

Some of what I think about in Handling the Truth—form, voice, tension, research—is thought about newly and wonderfully here. But this book goes into so many other territories, too—like, to begin with, how we find the time to do the work we do. I read those pages hungrily, thinking about this odd life of mine and the five minutes and the fifteen minutes and the half hour I struggle to find. And I thought about all of you.

I wish I'd read this book sooner. You can read a copy today. (I downloaded mine, quick and easy.)

To listen to Barbara and I talk about memoir on "Writers on Writing" show, check out this link.


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