Remembering What This Writing Thing is All About

I just wanted to share something with you real quick and I'm not even going to count it as my "weekly" (I use this term loosely) post. I really like author Ann Patchett, especially "The Patron Saint of Liars." Her stories work for me and her style of writing resonates with me most of the time. A few days ago I happened to see in my library's catalog that she had a non-fiction book called "What Now?" which is a commencement speech she gave.

What the hay, I picked it up. Less than 100 pages, large print, lots of pictures. What could it take, twenty, maybe thirty minutes to read? Yeah, I blew through that book like a tornado through a trailer park, but the weight of what she offered can't be measured. The best part by far was this nugget I transcribed and pasted below. I hope you like it and find it as powerful as I do.

“I learned the most from sticking with my dream even when all signs told me it was time to let go. I came to understand that fiction writing is like duck hunting. You go to the right place at the right time with the right dog. You get into the water before dawn, wearing a little protective gear, then you stand behind some reeds and wait for the story to present itself. This is not to say you are passive. You choose the place and the day. You pick the gun and the dog. You have the desire to blow the duck apart for reasons that are entirely your own. But you have to be willing to accept not what you wanted to have happen, but what happens. You have to write the story you find in the circumstances you’ve created, because more often than not the ducks don’t show up. The hunters in the next blind begin to argue, and you realize they’re in love. You see a snake swimming in your direction. Your dog beings to shiver and whine, and you start to think about this gun that belonged to your father. By the time you get out of the marsh you will have written a novel so devoid of ducks it will shock you.”
~ Ann Patchett, “What Now?”

I wish for all of us to have fantastic, duck-less novels some day. Cheers.

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