This is one of those weird things about me that I never think to share when I have to tell people weird things about myself. I’m not triskadecaphobic, at all–I have nothing against Friday the Thirteenth. Nor do I particularly like it. But I really enjoy Thursday the Thirteenth, or as it was yesterday, Saturday the Thirteenth. I always think, “so close! But no…”

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Berg’s book, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True the last couple of days. It was one of the books that I picked up with the other writing books from the library. But this one was different than the others. I picked it up on impulse right as I was leaving the section on writing… Something about the title or the cover just grabbed me. I chose the other books I did because they were specifically about the craft of putting together a novel. Books on plot, on structure, on character. 

This book is something different. It has a chapter on recipes. As in, food. Okay, so that’s not exactly something you look for in a book on writing, but I think it gets across the essence of this book. It’s part memoir, part writing advice, part conversation with someone you really want to have as a friend. 

It reminds me a bit of Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing, or perhaps Anne Lamott’s. It’s not so much about how to write, as it is about how to open your mind and live as a writer, how to see the world through writer’s eyes and to translate it to the written word.

I think this book is worth its price alone for the chapter on writing exercises. Page after page of writing exercises, randomly arranged, writing exercises that open the imagination. Here’s just a few of them: 

•Use these three words in a sentence or brief paragraph: dream, heart, gold. 

•Light through her lace curtains, _________ as _____________.

•If your bed could talk, how would it describe you?

•Your favorite cup

Her “homework” for that chapter is to make up ten exercises of your own. In another chapter, one on “writing myths,” she challenges her own assertion about one of the myths she mentions, and asks you to try it yourself, to prove her either right or wrong. 

I love this book. I’m inspired simply reading it. I find myself itching to try the writing exercises, to try the homework in the other chapters, even to cook one of the recipes she shares. I want to keep this book close to me, and though I’ve never read anything by her before, I requested two of her novels from the library.