Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Peace Like a River, and trying to learn how to write

For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid reader and, as often follows, I have wanted to be a writer. And I am a the sense that I sit down and write nearly every day and I've had some small successes (which I celebrate like I've just won the Pullitzer). Everyone says that to become a writer, you should read--widely and voraciously. And this is excellent advice. But for me, I find myself terribly wrapped up in the story, no longer able to pay attention to how the thing got done. I just love books so much! When I was in the midst of hating my short story collection but not knowing what the heck to do with it, someone gave me the very sound advice to take apart a short story I've read before (this is key to the not-getting-wrapped-up bit). Look at descriptions, scene, how plot moves along, etc, etc. I have always been a good student, and I like a project, so I did this exercise with four or five stories and found it immensly helpful. So, I decided to try it with the novel. Why not? I chose Leif Enger's "Peace Like a River" because I loved it once. And, oh, I loved it again. I had to force myself to pay attention to the structure, the voice, the pace...I took notes, made an outline, wrote summaries as needed. And still I felt myself pulled into this story of family, miracles, the old-fashioned feel of a great adventure--it's a great book and I highly recommend it...even if you aren't trying to learn how to write from it!

Spell check isn't working tonight and I'm not near a dictionary...I hope this isn't too terrible...

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