Hello Creatives! I want to recommend a wonderful book on the writing process. As many of you know, I have a long history with the writer William Least Heat-Moon, author of the best selling Blue Highways. I have never publicly commented upon or recommended his books. That stops now.
Recently, he published Writing Blue Highways, and though you may think me biased, I think this is one of the very best books on writing and the creative process I’ve ever read. I cried, laughed out loud, became completely mesmerized, enthralled, and exhilarated by this book. I highlighted and underlined and made arrows all over the place. I was in conversation with the writer! So many insights about writing, creating, publishing, and living. I highly recommend this one!
After reading the first paragraph (which is only two sentences), I wrote in my journal: “Sometimes you think you have so much to do, and then you read the most pure and beautiful sentence you’ve ever read in your life, and you realize there is absolutely not a single thing you could do today that would be of any importance.” The beauty of his language was enough.
Here is that first stunning paragraph:
The winter of 1977 began the day before Thanksgiving and lasted nearly to the first week of spring. Even in the middle latitudes where I lived in central Missouri, snow falling on the second of December took months to turn, glacially, into sooty heaps melting just enough to change into dirty ice that remained until a week beyond the vernal equinox, and only then did the remnants soften into gray honeycombs before at last turning to slush promising the end of the long and hard season.
Last fall was my last go-round teaching Editing Essentials at Rollins College where I helped my students explore the genius of rhetorician Francis Christensen and his “generative rhetoric.” This first paragraph alone of Writing Blue Highways is a gorgeous example of the kind of literary writing Christensen extolled and explicated so beautifully. And it goes on and on. You could parse every sentence of this book for its rigor, balance, and stylistic panache. If you love words and beautiful writing, if you’re interested in creativity, if you’re curious about the publishing process, and if you want a glimpse into the mind and heart of a brilliant writer, you’ll love this book.