Review (& Thoughts On) The Art of Slow Writing by Louise deSalvo

slow writingSo, this book is called The Art of Slow Writing, but the truth is that I read it very slowly. It’s taken me months to finish this book, not because it wasn’t good (it was!) but because I’ve been so busy and overwhelmed, plus it has content I wanted to take in over time.

I really enjoyed this book– it was a constant reminder to let art run its course, to let books reveal themselves in their own time, to embrace the uncertainty of the writing life, and how important persistence is to she who wants to be an author.



Loved this:

uncertainty writing

I’m writing slowly right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m not working hard. I spent last Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday doing research, hammering out details, brainstorming, plotting, and finishing up my VERY LONG AND DETAILED synopsis, which is now up to thirteen pages, double-spaced. I could NOT have created this synopsis early on. I needed to spend over a year with this story and let ideas build and build before I could pull this blueprint together.

But now that it IS together, I have a map from the beginning to the end of my novel. I have 60K words written already, but SO MUCH editing to do … plus I’m imagining about another 20K left to write.

This page from deSalvo’s book is Where I Am At:

slow writing quote

It is one thing to amass 50 or 60 thousand words of prose. It’s an entirely different beast to shape those words into a book. I learned so much while writing Lights All Around— and learned even MORE writing Truest— but there is still so much to learn. Every new book is a new mountain. Climbing one mountain does not mean I know how to climb all mountains.

It’s fulfilling work, but it is most definitely WORK.

Big Magic: Courage, Enchantment, & Suffering

In the grip of depression, anxiety, and perfectionism last week, I asked for a pep talk on Twitter.

It was really what I needed to read. Seriously.

I listened to the audiobook, and I’m so glad I did because Elizabeth Gilbert’s sweet narration was like being mentored by a big sister in the arts.

big magicThis isn’t really a review, per se, just a few of my thoughts on the book.

“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, and trust.”

This quote really touched me because it really nails some of those ingredients that people don’t seem to realize are so necessary. What do you need to write a book? I bet a lot of people would say talent or time or (cheekily) a pencil. I agree with Liz: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, and trust. (Though I might swap “trust” out with “faith” to get a little closer to what trust looks like for me.)

“There is a famous question that shows up, it seems, in every single self help book ever written: what would you do if you knew that you could not fail? But I’ve always seen it differently. I think the fiercest question of all is this one: what would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail? What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant? What do you love even more than you love your own ego?”

This is huge to me. I just read an article about the same thing. (It’s right here and well worth the read!) This article said the question to ask is: How do I choose to suffer? Basically, what is worth suffering for?

I like how the writer of the article summarizes a failed dream of his: “I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.”

I’m learning. Slowly.

Writing, I believe, is worth the suffering. Writing is worth it, even without success. But it takes courage and enchantment and faith.

I want to cultivate those things in myself.

Slowly, slowly …

My Hunger Mountain Story

Hunger Mountain 18 is finally out, and it includes my short story “Covered Up Our Names.”



(You may recall that I had this crazy idea about teenaged wards of the state living in hospice care, wrote the story and submitted it to Hunger Mountain with no expectations, and then won the 2013 Katherine Paterson Prize for it!)

Now that it’s been published, the rights have reverted back to me, so I have posted it over at Crux Literary Journal, the online arts project I curate.  I hope you’ll take ten minutes or so to read it and tell me what you think!