It is generally accepted thinking that when we do a thing, this makes us, even if at least temporarily, the owner of that thing, if not necessarily the master. A chef cooks. A dancer dances. A singer sings. And, of course, a writer writes. Yet how a writer writes, what they write about, when and where they write, and why, is a topic well worthy of consideration, particularly when there is such divergence there. Where do we get our ideas? Do we write everyday, every week - once a month, once a year? Who are we writing about? What is our voice and how do we find it? I was inspired to think about such matters when, it honor of spring and the rebirth of all things literary, I attended a reading at Kepler's bookstore by Susan Tiberghien, author of "One Year to a Writing Life - 12 Lessons to Deepen Every Writer's Craft."
I left feeling moved, enlightened, inspired, and warm and fuzzy inside, as if I had just seen a feel-good movie, or met up with an old friend.
Tiberhghien, an American-born writer living in Geneva, has written 3 memoirs and published widely in journals and anthologies. She also teaches and lectures at writers' conferences and graduate programs throughout the US and Europe. I found it fascinating that she did not start writing until the age of 50, and has published her books in the last 20 years. So for any of us out there who have not yet published their book, it is indeed inspiring to hear a writer like her remind us: "you have time."
Susan talked about the 12 lessons the book focuses on, including journal writing, personal essays, shorts stories, dreams and writing, dialogue, rewriting, and other areas, and spoke with a fluency and refreshing joy for the art which really came through. She talked about using journal entries to capture images and themes, and about writing as a way to "come home," to feel connected, to our communities and ourselves. And she talked about important nuances in writing that we may know, but have never heard articulated.
"Finding the right word," she stated, (according to Mark Twain), "is the difference between lightning and lightning bugs."
Of course, with every effort there are challenges as well as joys, and she reminded us that Hemingway rewrote the ending of "Farewell to Arms" 30 times. OK, I feel better now.
I am keeping the book close at hand and starting it soon. And then after that, I'm going for the lightning.