I’ve read a very interesting book today. It’s called, “If you want to write,” and it was written by a woman who was born ninety years ago and half a world away from me. Her name was Brenda Ueland, and she died when I was four years old. I wish I could have met her.
The book is about writing, of course, but it has more than that in it. She talks about imagination, creativity, and the path to producing really great works of art. I picked it up on a whim in the de Young Museum in San Francisco last year, and this morning I finished it (having forgotten about it for months).
She has inspired me in so many ways. Everything I read in this one small book was true, and it spoke more powerfully to me than any lecture on creative writing could. I just looked at a piece that I’d written – part of the first chapter of the Novel (more on that later) – and immediately I thought, “Oh my! Brenda is right! I know how to make this better!”
Even what I’m writing at this very minute feels better, truer, more honest. I can’t believe that this one book could change how I feel about writing, and how that change is for the better. I’ve looked for other books, and read them, and thought, “Yes, that’s right, I should try that,” but nothing ever comes of it. They treated writing as a work, a chore – something to be analysed and edited and considered from every angle, with plots planned out and characterisations written and backgrounds examined. To Brenda, writing was an Art – it was expression and joy and discovery all in one, and she taught her students how to bring out their own expressions of that Art. I think she’s teaching me the same thing now.
I’m starting this blog in honour of her. One of the things she talks about in her book is keeping a diary, but I’m sure she would have lauded the invention of the weblog. I’m going to talk about… anything, really. Mostly writing, because that is my passion. I hope it’s yours too, and you can get to San Francisco to buy a copy of Brenda’s book.