Saturday, December 19, 2015

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Writer, Ann Patchett's, collection of essays gives insight into her creative process of writing both fiction and non-fiction.  Although specifically about her experience with writing, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage speaks to me as a painter.  Today I was specifically struck by a passage in the essay, The Getaway Car, a Practical Memoir about Writing and Life.  She states, "Why is it that we understand playing the cello will require work, but we attribute writing to the magic of inspiration?" 

And, "If you want to write, practice writing.  Practice for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say."   Patchett elaborates, "Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama.  We must get all of them out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the freshwater underneath."  Now she of course has a whole lot of compelling metaphors in between those statements above, and they illustrate her point well: That becoming good or great at anything requires learning the craft and practicing the craft. 

I believe Patchett is spot on.  Why do I trust Ann Patchett?  She does not give advice for the sake of the advising, she writes about the process as she has lived it.  And her words speak to what I know in my heart to be true about finding the good paintings that exist under the cruddy ones.  I believe most of us have some terrible paintings that we have to get out of our system---by painting them.

Patchett's collection of essays are witty, fresh and insightful.  Her writing connects the reader with the human part of him/herself by exploring her own humanness.  She reminds us of things we have suspected or known about ourselves as well as gives us a new perspective by tossing us morsels of wisdom.  And she does it all without pretension or elitism.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is for anyone questioning the way forward or seeking to learn more about themselves through their experiences.  It is especially beneficial to those of us who have creativity as a central theme in our lives. Loved it!


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