Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Trail Through Leaves

From A Trail Through Leaves: The Journal As A Path To Place:

"It took many years of writing, thousands of pages, to discover that I could not find the fit between experience and record by writing with "summing up" words. To say that a canoe trip was wonderful, and that the river was beautiful, and that I had many adventures accomplished nothing in the journal: I didn't even have the pleasure of reliving the best moments while writing about them. And yet this ingrained tendency to generalize I still have to fight daily.

"A journal filled with "nices", "wonderfuls", "terribles", and "interestings" is one drained of any live juice. If that kind of writing merely reflects habit, there is hope for change. If the writer insists in it, consider it a sign of a deep-seated fear of the real."

This is the most intimate book on the craft of writing I have ever read. It falls somewhere between a suggestion of how and why to keep a journal, and a detailed, vividly illustrated book of nature. I've seen it featured on other sites as a way to teach writing through science. I believe it's closest cousin would be the much-loved Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden (1906).

Highly recommended to any aspiring or accomplished wordscribe or naturalist.

"Sometimes the pen on the page is alive, and sometimes it seems stupid and stumbling. Often I wait, bending over that dark pool full of hidden words, and suddenly the right ones surface. I'm ready for them, and feel something of the keen pleasure as I did when speed and strength became equipoise over a jump.

"Other times the pool stays blank, just a maddening lifeless flatness. The presence or absence of flow can't be dictated, but a person can remain agile and alert, ready to recognize and act on whatever comes.

"The pleasure of encountering the next blank page-spread in the journal seems never to diminish...."

A Trail Through Leaves: The Journal As A Path To Peace, Hannah Hinchman. Offered for Sale by Chewybooks, as of October 29, 2009.

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