“I can feel the tight grip of the ice around me, around my life, and what I want, this evening by the edge of the river, is to be cast back upon the water, to be set free.”
- Helen Humphreys, The Frozen Thames
Last week I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two readings given by Canadian authors I admire. Steven Heighton read from his novel, Every Lost Country, which I look forward to reading, and Helen Humphreys read from her novel, The Reinvention of Love, which I have read and enjoyed tremendously.
Both writers were generous and thoughtful in their responses to audience members’ questions, also interested in what we were all up to.
Over the last few years I’ve read and re-read Humphreys’ little book, The Frozen Thames. I so admire it, I’ve bought and given away a good dozen copies to friends. Well, now I’ve got a new little book I’m tempted to buy and give to everyone I know, Steven Heighton’s Work Book: memos & dispatches on writing.
Since I haven’t managed to lay hands on more copies, I’ll give a little sampler of some of Heighton’s memos and dispatches:
“Interest is never enough. If it doesn’t haunt you, you’ll never write it well. What haunts and obsesses you into writing may, with luck and labour, interest your readers. What merely interests you is sure to bore them.”
“You don’t “graduate” from poetry to short stories, or get promoted from stories to the novel. The only graduation is to better writing.”
“Writers have no monopoly on poverty, humiliation, self-doubt, or aggressive inner demons. Close your eyes and get on with it.”
Food for thought.