- Paperback: 166 pages
- Publisher: T.S. Poetry Press (August 28, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0984553169
- ISBN-13: 978-0984553167
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing
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A few brave writers pull back the curtain to show us their creative process. Annie Dillard did this. So did Hemingway. Now L.L. Barkat has given us a thoroughly modern analysis of writing. Practical, yes, but also a gentle uncovering of the art of being a writer. --Gordon Atkinson, author Turtles All the Way Down
The real beauty of this book is the truth it teaches slant: good and beautiful and honest writing comes from a life that pursues the same. This is not just a book about writing well, it's a book about living well. --Leslie Leyland Fields, author of Surviving the Island of Grace and The Spirit of Food, and columnist for Christianity Today
I love living and breathing in L.L. Barkat's writerly mind. The way she weaves the story of her girls alongside her writing journey is invitational. Her book was a beautiful pause in my day, and it made me ache for a more attentive life. --Mary DeMuth, author of Thin Places: A Memoir
L.L. Barkat models a vibrant writing life, nourishing the reader with moments infused with meaning. Her words satisfy, like a fragrant cup of Christmas tea. --Ann Kroeker, author of Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families
About the Author
L.L. Barkat is a books, parenting, and education contributor for The Huffington Post blog and is the Managing Editor of Tweetspeak Poetry, where writers and poets can find everything from basic inspiration to full-fledged writing workshops. The author of eight books, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children's learn-to-read titles, Barkat understands the writing process from all angles and gently, skillfully mentors both up-and-coming and established writers.
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I'm so glad I did.
Although a book about writing, Rumors of Water is, at its heart, an offering of love. L.L. Barkat invites the reader into her love of language, the craft of writing, and the art of living passionately and well. Her book transcends mere writing instruction, offering glimpses of the life of creativity Barkat has sought to cultivate in both her daughters and herself. To have a voice, a writer must have passions, says Barkat. She shares stories of encouraging her daughters to pursue their passions through experiences of working in the garden, catching fireflies, playing story, embarking on a tea pilgrimage, and even watching old episodes of I Love Lucy. Something tells me these girls are being raised right.
An accomplished writer and publisher, Barkat addresses many of the roadblocks which keep folks like me merely reading about writing instead of doing it. She talks about lacks of creativity and the fear that one's words won't do what we want. She encourages writers to risk being brave and daring in their description and, in a pair of sentences which made me laugh out loud asks, What if someone calls the godliness police? What if someone accuses us of a crazy mind?
Barkat acknowledges the realities of the publishing world, the likelihood for rejection, and the need for the writer to be willing to work at the craft. She offers wisdom gleaned through her experience, not in a harsh and critical way, but with warmth and playfulness. She invites the writer to begin, to work with what she's got; to be willing to start small and write in community with like-minded people who will be compassionate toward her words.
Having finished Rumors of Water, I probably won't be buying any more writing books again soon. There is much here to chew on, to return to and be encouraged by. While reading her book, I finally took the time to figure out how the highlighting feature on my Kindle works so I can return to L.L. Barkat's words again and again.
We should not worry about the process, says Barkat, but simply trust it and move on.
There are rumors of water out there to refresh the weary, fearful writer's soul. Go get yourself some.
Of course, it helps if you bring extensive experience as a writer, as the author of three previously published books, as the editor and or publisher of four books by other writers (and more on the way), as the managing editor of an online site for faith, culture, work and family, and as a contributing writer for Curator Magazine. And it helps if you've been homeschooling your children for several years, and that you were once a public school teacher. But still, it seems something of a stretch.
It works. It works stunningly well. It works so well that I think I've just finished one of the best books on writing I've ever read.
In 32 pointed and tightly focused chapters, Barkat (and her daughters, Sara and Sonia) walk you through creativity and inspiration, voice, the habit of writing, the structure of writing, publishing, roadblocks and problems, and how and why writing takes time.
Places writing within the context of family and children, within the personal and the everday, within what one experiences in 99 percent of life. She took a similar approach with "God in the Yard: Spiritual practice for the rest of us," by spending a set time each day, every day, in her garden. And she found God there, as did the rest of us who read the book.
Without overtly saying so, in "Rumors of Water" Barkat is telling writers to consider that a children's game, that minor disappointment, that simple joy of seeing a garden grow, that pain of climbing the steps of a lighthouse are all metaphors - and lessons - for writing.
A visit to a local farm, with her daughters tasting "the reddest strawberries they ever saw," becomes a lesson in where writing starts: "Writing starts with living. Living starts with somebody caring so much about something that they need to drag you out of your writing chair and take you where you'll be surprised to find your words."
A talk about a story her daughter is writing and what to name the main character becomes a discussion of that all-consuming worry most writers have - voice. "Writers worry a lot about this, about voice," she writes. They are always wondering if they can find one. The truth is that every writer has a voice. It is probably best heard by listening to oneself speak."
A neighbor teaching her girls about Tai Chi (and how she first heard of it when she saw Sesame Street's Big Bird in China) opens the door to how to care for your writing: have goals; rest on a weekly basis; choose writer friends carefully; choose share-timing wisely; watch out for siphons.
By telling the stories of Sara and Sonia, "Rumors of Water" invites you into the Barkats' home and garden. You are made to feel a welcome guest, and outgoing Sonia might even let you play one of her online games (or maybe not). Sara, shy, will hold back for a time, and watch even if you think she's not. And then you ask her a question about Sherlock Holmes, and you listen to her respond with the passion and knowledge of a true fan. And in this visit you find yourself enchanted, and a little amazed that you're understanding your writing in ways you never have before. And you don't mind when Sonia cons you into weeding her garden, because weeding and pruning are important.
Rumors of Water is more than a book about writing. It is an invitation. And it is a gift.