by Berg, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Berg (Talk Before Sleep) is a can-do kid. Forget the common wisdom--that writing is difficult and getting published nearly impossible without contacts or an agent. "What you need most," she says, "is a fierce desire to put things down on paper." And if a gentle nudge will help you on your way, well, Berg wishes to provide just that, cheerfully, with Escaping into the Open. For Berg, writing--and success--comes easily. In fact, she says, "What I like doing best is writing.... I feel like a drug addict with an exceptionally wise drug of choice."
It is refreshing to come across a book so positive and friendly--even if a there is a little too much emphasis on the author's own experience (did she really have to include a five-page essay by an envious friend and three pages of topics about which she herself has successfully written?). Still, how could one not appreciate a writing guide that espouses napping, eating chocolate-covered cherries, and standing by your "man(uscript)," and that likens passionate, risky writing--the only kind that's worth anything--to great sex? Berg encourages her reader to look (and listen and feel) deeply, to learn from children, and not to let life interfere with writing any more than it has to. She addresses--sometimes with help from her friends--writing classes, writing groups, and the writing life. In a chapter called "If you're a man, be a woman," she offers up 30 pages of writing exercises. Berg is personable, whimsical, amazed by her good fortune, and direct. "There's only one person who can stop you," she says gravely at book's end, "and we both know who that is." --Jane Steinberg
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