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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Secret Life of Bees

I've been uncovering all sorts of good writing advice this weekend, right under my nose. Literally. Computer files stuffed in folders. Paper files falling out of notebooks with names like "Character" and "Title picking" and "Revision."

Ha. Revision. As if that fits neatly into a computer folder. (Though it's beginning to fit much more neatly now that I've discovered/ almost mastered Scrivener!)

 Today I've been thinking about Secret Life of Bees, a book I loved. I recently re-watched the movie and, though I don't often say this about movies made from books, that movie wasn't half bad.

Now, I'm going to pay attention to some excellent writing advice I found tucked into one of those aforementioned computer folders, hiding on my desktop. This advice from Kidd has been on her website for a while, and perhaps you've read it. But I think it bears remembering. All 10 of them.

I'll share two of Sue Monk Kidd's Ten Most Helpful Things About Writing here, but you need to click on over to that link for the rest. I promise, it will be worth it.

7. Err on the side of audacity.

One day it occurred to me that most writers, myself included, erred on the side of being too careful in their writing. I made a pact with myself that I would quit playing it safe when what the story really wanted... what my heart really wanted, was to take a big chance. The best writing requires some daring-- a little literary skydiving. Look at your idea and ask yourself: how can I make this larger? The novelist E. M. Forster once said that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. After I finish each chapter, I read it with an eye toward figuring out where I’ve played it safe, where I backed off, where the small astonishment was lost.

8.Trust yourself, but listen to others (Certain Others)

As a beginning writer, I had to learn to trust my own creative instincts, but at the same time, gather a handful of trusted readers who would tell me the unmitigated truth. I had to learn how to detach enough from my work to listen genuinely to their advice and criticism, to see my work through their eyes. It is a difficult thing to sort out, but with practice I figured out how to stand by my best, most authentic impulses and words, while letting go of or revising the parts of my work that really were wrong, extraneous, unaffecting and plain mediocre. I eventually became ruthless about cutting my work. Sometimes it’s like pruning a tree-- the best work grows from the severed place.

Related posts: Writing About the 60s

1 comment:

Leslie Davis Guccione said...

Wonderful advice, of course. Loved the book.