Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sharon Olds on Writing (H/T The Writer’s Almanac)

Have I mentioned that I love The Writer’s Almanac? I start every day with this e-mail feed, a production of American Public Media in association with the great Garrison Keillor of “Prairie Home Company” fame.

Before my sports fix from the Boston Globe, I read The Writer’s Almanac. Before the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.* Before anything.  

Sharon Olds: “Writing has self-respect in it. 
You’re not lying down.”

I owe this addiction to my daughter, a writer, who alerted me to it. Now, it is a constant point of conversation between us. Dad, did you see today’s? Yeah, I love the thing about—.

What I loved today was a quote from poet Sharon Olds. I didn’t know Sharon Olds from Ransom Olds, progenitor of the Oldsmobile. Maybe they’re related. (The picture is Sharon, not Ransom or my daughter, for that matter.)

What I can relate to is Sharon Olds’s statement about writing:

“Whenever we give our pen some free will, we may surprise ourselves. All that wanted to seem normal in regular life, all that fitting in falls away in the face of one's own strange self on the page....

“Writing or making anything—a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake—has self-respect in it. You’re working. You’re trying. You’re not lying down on the ground, having given up.”

That really is the way it is: writing as the eternal daily challenge. I have that daily challenge when I take up my memoir again and try to write the truth for an hour, a truth that informs and entertains. 

Blogging about my faith is like what Olds talks about too. I never know what “strange self” is going to appear on the screen in front of me.

Like this one. Which doesn’t feel all that strange. Probably should be stranger.

* NOTE: Actually I do the NYT XW after 10 p.m. the night before, usually on back in bed, in the digital version that arrives by subscription on the dot of the hour. 

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