Sunday, 18 October 2009

Read and Be Inspired

If you don't know who Annie Dillard is, you are missing something that you don't even know you are missing. I had to read "The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" for a class at University. I didn't just enjoy that book, I appreciated the beauty of the language (even before I had decided to be a writer), and I read that non-fiction as if I was reading fiction - hooked. To give you an idea of how amazing it was for me to like that book, I should also point out that I hate insects - all of them - and I am not particularly big on nature details as a subject. You are talking to a city girl through and through. But this was beautiful. This was the kind of language that makes you realise why you love language. This essay from Alexander Chee describes what it was like to have Annie Dillard as a teacher. Here is a little sampler: Talent isn’t enough, she had told us. Writing is work. Anyone can do this, anyone can learn to do this. It’s not rocket science, it’s habits of mind and habits of work. I started with people much more talented than me, she said, and they’re dead or in jail or not writing. The difference between myself and them is that I’m writing. Talent could give you nothing. Without work, talent is only talent, promise, not product. I wanted to learn how to go from being the accident at the beginning to a writer, and I learned that from her.