I ordered a new writing book from Amazon last week. I have no idea why. No one recommended it. I had no real intentions of ordering any book at all, but I saw it on one of those links from something else I was looking at… to tell the truth, I can’t remember exactly how I came upon it, only that I did and for some reason it looked interesting.
It’s called One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft and it’s by Susan M. Tiberghien, an American-born writer, married to a Frenchman, with French-speaking children and living in Geneva Switzerland. Not the sort of person I’d generally choose for writing advice.
“Tiberghien’s advice, encouragement, and wisdom make this an invaluable book for writers at all stages of their writing lives.”
So says Michael Steinberg, founding editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction and author of Still Pitching. I have no idea who he is, and have never heard of Fourth Genre nor Still Pitching. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I got this book.
I think it might have been God the Holy Spirit prompting me to do so. I say that because the book came a couple of days ago, and when I opened it up, the very first thing I read, on the page immediately following the dedication was this:
“Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
That quote reached off the page, grabbed me by my shirt and pulled me close. It’s exactly what I had been thinking about, remembering what it was like to actually write a first draft, develop a new world, a new set of characters… It’s been awhile. And this just drove right to the heart of it all.
There’s more to this than just that, though — the part about the work being done “beyond the reach of one’s intelligence” echoes what I wrote in That Nameless Faculty Again about an aspect of ourselves we don’t understand and can’t control. The part of our souls that brings forth a story. Or a song or a painting… Mostly without our conscious control or even awareness.
Anyway, I’ve barely started it. Read the Introduction and part of Chapter One. Already I’ve got underlinings and comments in the margin and things I want to think about, ideas being added to things I have already been thinking about. If all those thoughts coalesce into something coherent, I might even blog about them.
And I did all this and still managed to work a bit on Sky — moved on from page 10 to page 14 in Chapter One (covering material that reached to p 17 in the original so I’ve cut another page…). Hooray!