Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True

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9780060191795: Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True
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“Crystal clear, bracing as ice water, Escaping Into the Open should be read by all scribblers regardless of material success.”
—Rita Mae Brown

“This is a really good book.”
Booklist

Bestselling, award-winning novelist Elizabeth Berg knows a thing or two about writing, having graced the world with wonderful works of fiction including Talk Before Sleep, The Year of Pleasures, and the acclaimed Oprah Book Club Selection, Open House. With Escaping Into the Open, she offers an inspiring, eminently entertaining, and delightfully practical handbook on the joys, challenges, and creative possibilities inherent in the writing life. Now revised with new material—a classic in the vein of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird—Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping Into the Open is an indispensable guide for any aspiring storyteller.

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Review:

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

From the Back Cover:

Elizabeth Berg touches women's lives with heartbreakingly funny and true novels -- including the New York Times bestseller Talk Before Sleep -- that distinctly capture the essence of their lives. Now this critically acclaimed author and writing instructor offers an inspiring, practical handbook on the joys, challenges, and creative possibilities inherent in the writing life.

Both autobiography and primer, Escaping into the Open interweaves Elizabeth Berg's story of her own journey from working mother to published novelist with encouraging advice on how to create stories that spring from deep within the heart.

For the beginning wordsmith, she provides guidance and concrete suggestions for getting started. She outlines the fifteen essential Ps of writing -- from purpose and perseverance to priorities and patience to playfulness and pens, pencils, and paper -- and shares the ways she uses to make the writing process as painless and joyous as possible. Offering advice grounded in the real-life experiences of writers, she sagely reminds us, "there is no single right way to do anything in writing. There is first the desire to communicate something on paper."

With wit and honesty, Elizabeth Berg provides numerous exercises that will unleash individual creativity and access and utilize all of the senses. Most important, she tells how to fire passion -- emotion -- into writing itself; to break through personal barriers and reach one's own outer limits and beyond. The author also provides useful information on making the transition from nonfiction to fiction, lists guaranteed techniques for getting unstuck, weighs the merits and pitfalls of attending writing classes and workshops, and shatters myths that can destroy a newly budding writer's dreams.

Listen to Elizabeth Berg. "It is all-fulfilling for me to be a published writer. It is literally a dream come true. I got into this business with no contacts, no writing classes or degree, and no experience. Please believe me when I tell you that with a little talent and perseverance, you can too." Escaping into the Open offers the key to fulfilling a personal, often secret, lifelong dream.

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