Reading Sam Shepard


So there’s a lot of stuff going on right now – the disasters in this country, both natural and political, and then personal things – a trip to New York soon and getting my next retreat lined up for October, going through applications for the fall class at UCLA, etc. and now it’s Labor Day weekend up in Lake Arrowhead and my family’s due soon etc. Not to mention what I’m really trying to focus on – this book I’m writing.

There are so many voices to read and listen to – my head is cluttered not only with my life but what I’m constantly reading on my iPhone and online – and I’ve got a pile of books on my bedside table, and I’ve just joined something called Book Bub so I’ve got dozens of downloaded books on my Kindle (actually it’s quite a deal – discounted to $1.99 and some great books.) But the point is there’s a lot of noise in my head (and probably in yours too) – but I’ve got the solution. Read Sam Shepard. I just ordered his book Cruising Paradise and actually sat down in the middle of the day to read some of it. There’s no frou frou, the “writing” doesn’t show, it’s simply his moral compass, his voice, his eye – smart, funny, clear and concrete. One of the best writing lessons I’ve ever had.

And isn’t this is how we learn to write and keep inspired? By finding writers we love, who can show us how to do it.

My dear friend and once editor Paula Diamond told me years ago that to clear her head she read E.B. White. This is wonderful advice too. Check out his collected essays.

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