Writing Advice from Readers (and some talk about Cheever)

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We are half way through the week. You would think that the week would feel shorter because of the holiday on Monday, but I think that day just threw me off… It’s been a long few days—illness, a wake, lots of work. Tonight is my Literature Seminar. We’re discussing The Stories of John Cheever. I just finished reading “The Country Husband” and can’t get over how brilliant Cheever is, how well he depicts the crooked world of suburbia. My professor says Cheever writes about the precariously bourgeois, the “have mores, but have not enoughs.”I’ll tell you, being from Boston’s South Shore myself, I can relate to the culture he writes about in many of his stories.

In the preface, Cheever admits to loving some stories best, especially the ones that took less than a week to write and that he composed aloud. The famous ending of “Goodbye My Brother” was apparently spoken aloud in front of his doormen. “I watched the naked women walk out of the sea!” Cheever exclaimed. He recounts his doorman politely saying, “You’re talking to yourself Mr. Cheever.”

I’ve heard of people who compose their work aloud. I wonder how that would feel, if it would simply be more organic to tell the story that way. I suppose it would as it goes back to something primitive, the origin of story telling. Professors always recommend reading work aloud, as we catch things when they’re spoken that we can’t otherwise. Often things just sound off. I love hearing the rhythm of the piece come to life as it’s spoken. This, by the way, is one of my most favorite things: getting the rhythm right.

This weekend I’m off to the beach in Massachusetts (Cheever���s birth place!) to spend some time with the family. I hope to get some writing done and I’m sure I will as there is no place like the beach to lull you into that peaceful vibe. And don’t we all write better when we’re relaxed? An old teacher of mine used to say she took baths and lit candles before she dove into her writing.

As promised, here is some writing advice from readers… some inspiration to push us through to the weeked. Have a good day, everyone!

“Self deprecation is not allowed. We are all here because we possess a talent for language. It would serve us all well to be confident in our skills and not to be scared to share our writing with our peers, our friends, and the world." –from Beauty Blogger, advice she received from a professor

“Don’t be afraid to kill your “babies.” Your babies being sentences or scenes you think are particularly brilliant. Are your babies brilliant, or are they merely ego?” –from Bonnie

“Climb the mountain (Sarah Dunn). And write what something is, not what something is like (Erica Wagner).” –Jessica shares advice from two different authors

“My professor said… to make sure our writing was clear, concise, and compelling.” –from Monica

“Everything we learn to write is a stepping stone for the next level of conversation we are capable of having with ourselves.”

-Christina Baldwin


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