Writers are great lovers*

>> Friday, April 8, 2011

"Writers are great lovers. They fall in love with other writers. That's how they learn to write. They take on a writer, read everything by him or her, read it over again until they understand how the writer moves, pauses, and sees. That's what being a lover is: stepping out of yourself, stepping into someone else's skin. Your ability to love another's writing means those capabilities are awakened in you. It will only make you bigger; it won't make you a copy cat. The parts of another's writing that are natural to you will become you, and you will use some of those moves when you write. But not artificially. Great lovers realize that they are what they are in love with....

...And don't be be jealous, especially secretly. That's the worst kind. If someone writes something great, it's just more clarity in the world for all of us."

- Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

She's here in town. I attended her reading and book signing tonight, and for the next two days I have the privilege of attending her writing retreat. I am so energized and inspired after far too long a hiatus from writing creatively. 

Tell me, who do you love? Whose mind do you study through their words? 

I think back through the years, and just a few spring that spring to mind: Blake, Thoreau, Robert Frost, Jane Austen, Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry, Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg... the list is deep and wide.

Even our contemporaries, writing I have discovered online -- I read their poems and essays and the poetry that sings through their stories and I come away gifted. Amber Haines, Krista Knott, Kate Ingles, Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz, Amy Turn Sharp, Bon Stewart... again, just skimming the surface of the ocean of inspiration out there.

So tell me, what writers do you love? Whose words lit you up as a child or teen or for the first time last week? Who should I be reading, whether novels, poems or even blogs?

*title of post from "Writing is a Communal Act", an essay in Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones


suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} April 8, 2011 at 11:32 PM  

how wonderful to sit at the feet of someone who knows. enjoy your weekend:)

i love your list, too. i just wrote about loving katherine patterson as a girl. i loved how she never dumbed it down.

now i wish i read more. thomas hardy, flannery o'connor, thomas merton. i like a good memoir--dave eggers and lauren winner stand out.

Jana@AnAttitudeAdjustment April 9, 2011 at 6:26 AM  

I wish I could see her in person and devote myself to a writing workshop right now. What you quoted is so true to me. Writers I love: Jhmpa Lahiri, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Franzen. If you have t read O'Brien's The Things They Carried, you must! So much about the power of stories.

Jane April 9, 2011 at 8:16 AM  

Great seeing you at the reading! One author that I return to is Terry Tempest Williams, especially her memoir "Refuge". One of my favorite poets is Naomi Shahib Nye, especially her collection "The Words Under the Words".

Lindsey April 9, 2011 at 9:29 AM  

Oh, wow!! I can't WAIT to hear about it ... that sounds life-changing. For me the list is so long .... lots of poets, Sexton, Rich, Olds, Tennyson, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, and then memoirists, Dani Shapiro, Katrina Kenison, Anne Lamott ... I could go on and on ...

Oh, and YOU. Yes, lady, YOU.


krista April 13, 2011 at 6:48 PM  

good lord, woman.
the company you put me in.
i feel like dancing.

your words make me dance, too. you know that, right?

natalie April 16, 2011 at 3:28 PM  

I just read The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, about the power of reading and how it informs who we are and what we become.

Thomasin April 20, 2011 at 4:43 PM  

Reaquainted myself with Muriel Spark this last month. Love her.

Also: poems by James Tate and the amazing plays of Martin DcDonagh. My mind wouldn't be the same without them rattling around in there.

Thomasin April 20, 2011 at 4:44 PM  

McDonagh, of course. ;-)

Cecilia May 3, 2011 at 8:06 AM  

I love Anne Lamott too...just love her voice and I read her sentences over and over trying to figure out how it is she can phrase things the way she does. I also like Yiyun Li and David Sedaris. For kids' books I love Arnold Lobel (The Frog and Told) and Mo Willems. They are brilliant!

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I'm a realistic optimist who relies on raw honesty and plenty of humor to navigate the boystorm that is my life. I am mother to three and wife to one. These are my stories.

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