writing books

Book Review: Wild Women, Wild Voices

WildWomen_CvrWild Women, Wild Voices: Writing From Your Authentic Wildness

by Judy Reeves

I was provided this book by the publisher, New World Library (whom I adore, because they always give me wonderful books to read) to review.  And then I promptly forgot about it.  Actually, the book got buried under a pile of papers on my desk and only was unearthed when I started cleaning up.  I wish I'd found it sooner, because its a wonderful book.

And here's my problem with writing about it: I start reading it and then stop to go do some of the exercises and follow the prompts.  And so I am slowly–very slowly–making my way through it.  And in this case, the slowness is a good thing.  There is a ton of material to absorb in this book, and for anyone wanting to explore the wild side of their writing (something to which, really, we all should aspire) it is well worth it.

You may be familiar with the author, Judy Reeves,who calls herself a "writing practice provocateur," through one of her other books.  The one that's been on my shelf for years is The Writer's Book of Days.  (It really has been years–I looked up the pub date, and it was 1999.) She, like me, encourages discipline as a path to letting the wild woman out–discipline as in writing every day.  Besides that, what I really like about the book is that her exercises encourage digging deep and cutting loose.  It is this kind of attitude toward writing that leads me back to the utter joy of it.

Wild Women, Wild Voices grew out of a workshop Reeves taught, about which she says, "And though I've been a lifelong daily journaler, it was the prompts, questions, and explorations initiated by our work that took me into the deep waters of memory and experience."   

Here's a look at what the book covers, which is based on the cycles of a woman's life:

–Claiming the Wild Woman–rediscovering the deep connections with ourselves and others

–Mother/Sister/Daughter and family connections

–Loves and Lovers

–Friendship–the wild woman in community

–Artist/Creator–the authentic work of wild woman

–Life Journeys–quests and pilgrimages 

–Death and Legacies–the unveiling of the wise woman

And, just for fun, here's a couple of examples of exercises (which she calls "explorations") from the book:

–Write the story of your name.  Where did it come from, what does it mean, how does it fit you?  Or how doesn't it?

–In Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey wrote, "Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary."  

Write about your "right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary."

–Have you ever met someone on a journey, and did the connection change your life, even though you may never have seen or heard from the person again?

 Have fun with these explorations and do check out the book.  

What kind of writing books do you like to read, if any?


Put it All On the Page, Put It All on the Page Now

I'm a junkie for writing books.

The good ones get me so excited about writing that I have a hard time finishing them because I put them down to go write (sort of like what I hope this blog does for people).  And even the bad ones generally offer some tidbit or another.

So when I saw a new book on writing by Annie Dillard, called Give it All Up, Give It All Up Now: One of The Few Things I Know About WritingI eagerly snatched it off the shelf.  The book had a colorful, bright cover done in gorgeous watercolors and that was enough to drive me to the bookstore cash register, even though the entire thing was shrink-wrapped.  No matter.  I anticipated serious and weighty thoughts on writing, precious secrets, and glorious inspiration.  I was excited and couldn't wait to get home to read it.

Imagine my dismay when I slit open the plastic that surrounded it and found that it is essentially a gift book, a coffee-table type volume that opens up in accordion folds.  The watercolors are awesome, but the words on the page are few, and to save you the trouble, basically they are variations on the theme of the title:  Give it all up, put it all on the page, don't hold back, don't hoard words…and so on.

I was angry at myself for succumbing to the lure of yet another book (something I've been doing since I was a tiny child so I don't know why I ever expect to change) and mad at Annie Dillard for enticing me to buy this worthless piece of @#$%^.

But here's the funny thing:  I've found those words ringing in my head ever since.  Give it all up, I hear as I open the computer.  Put it all on the page, the voice whispers as I begin to right.  Don't hold back, gets told to me as I pick up my pen to write in my journal.  It is not a new sentiment.  One of my most favorite self-help books ever has a chapter titled with similar words.  (I can't remember the exact book, but check out the amazing Alan Cohen's site and read anything by him.)

And so now I have come to believe that these are the most profound words on writing you'll likely ever hear.  So deep and yet so simple.  Give it all up, give it all up now.  Put it all on the page, put it all on the page now.  Don't hold back, splash it all out there.  Collapse, exhausted, from the effort, rest awhile and then rise to do it all over again.

STAY TUNED for an announcement about an exciting contest with an awesome prize to be held right here on this very blog.