A couple of years ago during our family’s Naramata interlude (aaaah, Naramata!) I bought this beautiful accordion-style book (in its own lovely slipcase) as a gift for a writer friend of mine.
This year, when I saw it on the shelf at The Mustardseed Bookstore, I knew I wanted it – no, I needed it – for myself.
It takes less than a minute to read and every time I do a thrill runs through me: “Yes, gol dang it. Quit holding yourself back, Maxine. Give it all. Give it now.”
This includes the times – like the last few months – when I’ve been holding myself back from writing at all. In this instance the Give-It-All exhortation includes all that pump-priming gunk that feels like trite, over-wrought garbage. Give it all. Give it now. Give it a chance to clean out the sludge so you can tap into the clear, free-running wellspring again.
Even the back cover is inspirational (and it only takes an extra 15 seconds to read):
“Annie Dillard . . . is unequivocal in her advice: save nothing: let it all go, now. The only way . . . to accomplish your dreams, to satisfy your potential, no matter how frightening, is to be fearless and courageous . . . get out of your own way: no more worrying that you might run out of good ideas, no more planning ahead and saving things for later, no more manipulating.”
“Saving things for later” – that’ll be me. I have countless scraps of hoarded gems that will never see the light of day. They needed to shine when they first glimmered to the surface. Instead, I buried them in a special coffin called “The Perfect Piece of Writing” that has long-since disintegrated to dust.
Author, Susan Cheever, quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson in her introduction to the book: “The way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent.”
Isn’t that lovely?
She goes on to say . . . okay – just stop it, Maxine.
You are going to quote – verbatim – Susan’s eloquent words, correct?
Um . . . Yes. I love what she says.
And then you are going to share the 123 words that make up Annie Dillard’s entire message because they are so profound, not only for the life of a writer, but for Life, period. Right?
Which will rob everyone of the opportunity to experience the power of this beautiful book for themselves.
Do you really want to do that?
What you really want to do is create your own accordion-style, slipcovered, charmingly illustrated book of profound insights that will uplift, inspire and delight others. Am I right?
Preferably profound insights that have flowed from your own pen.
I know, I know. Delusions of grandeur.
But it’s true.
I want to make a book like this.
Especially when I read about Audrey Niffenegger’s (of The Time Traveler’s Wife fame) experience with one of her books.
For now, I highly recommend that you experience Annie Dillard’s words and Susan Cheevers’ introduction and Sam Fink’s illustrations for yourself.
You can borrow my copy if you like.